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Rensselaer Falls zoning law up for review

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RENSSELAER FALLS - The village Planning Board’s work to bring its land use and development code up to date will continue at its meeting Thursday at 6 p.m. in the village office.

“What the village really seeks to do is clarify what goes where,” Planning Board Chairwoman Bonnie M. St. Denny said Tuesday. “For instance, if a block is strictly residential, they’d like to keep it that way.”

Issues with the current law, last updated in 2006, came to light after resident Kevin M. Reynolds proposed constructing a 40-by-120-foot storage building at 214 King St.

Mr. Reynolds’s site plan review application was denied by the Planning Board in July because members felt the storage facility wasn’t compatible with the neighborhood.

Mr. Reynolds has appealed the decision, arguing that his proposal abides by the code.

St. Lawrence County Deputy Planning Director Jason P. Pfotenhauer has said the village’s land use and development code is too vague, consisting of just “one large, mixed-purpose zone.”

A section within the code actually permits a storage or warehouse-type facility, he has said.

Village Mayor Jeffrey W. Dollinger said public outcry over Mr. Reynolds’s proposal has spurred the activity. He said he supports updating the code.

“Mr. (Code Enforcement Officer Timothy C.) Tuttle informed us that some of our local laws lacked the detail to allow for more efficient enforcement,” Mr. Dollinger said. “He’s not the law writer, but he’ll be along to steer us in the right direction.”

Mr. Tuttle said he will be bringing a large map of the village to Thursday’s meeting and will color code existing residential and commercial properties.

“They have zoning, but it’s not quite cut and dried, not quite black and white. There can’t be any gray area. For the most part, Main Street represents the commercial properties,” he said, including Chapin’s Country Store, Fiber Options, and McAllister’s Liquor & Wines as examples.

The map will serve as a visual aid to help designate possible zones, he said.

“They’re toying with dividing the village into different zones. I’m just there to help with wording,” he said.

Though Thursday’s meeting is open to the public, according to Mr. Dollinger, most of the talking will be done by Planning Board members and Mr. Tuttle.

“Eventually, everyone in the community will be able to take part in these public sessions,” he said.

Mr. Tuttle said several meetings could be required to update the code.

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