January 05, 2009

Approved Meeting Minutes from December 18th Meeting

Town of Varick Planning Board Meeting Minutes


Date of meeting: December 18, 2008 

Meeting called to order:  7:10pm

¨     Attendees:   Thomas Bjorkman, Phil Knapp, Bill Larzelere, Linda Masteller,  Susan Ottenweller, , Kevin Swartley

      Absent: Bill Squires

A quorum was present.


With Chairman Squires not present, Thomas Bjorkman agreed to run the meeting.


 Suggestion to Bill Squires:  There was a comment that it would be helpful to all if there was an agenda circulated before the meeting.


Meeting Minutes:  Bill Larzelere noted that the November minutes had been changed as per e-mail notes from Linda Masteller.  Susan Ottenweller moved to approve the October and November minutes as written.  Phil Knapp seconded. The vote to approve was unanimous.


New Business:

Thomas Bjorkman reported that as of August 6, 2008, the Cobblestone Farm in the Town of Varick had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  Noting that this was a very desirable happening with much work from the owner, Bob Rozzano, he suggested that a letter of “congratulations” from our Board be drafted and sent to the owners with a copy to the Town Board.  All agreed that this was a good idea and Kevin Swartley made a motion that this be done. Susan O. seconded the motion and the vote to approve was unanimous.  Thomas Bjorkman agreed to draft the letter.


Zoning Code Changes:


Discussion about the definition of “A Place of Worship”:


Susan Ottenweller  reported that in her research  “A Place of Worship” was handled differently in the Zoning codes of surrounding towns.  She also found that  in 2000 Congress passed the Religious Land Uses and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) to protect religious groups from zoning and historic landmark regulations that would significantly interfere with religious exercise. Most zoning codes allow places of worship in any zoning district where the impacts of the facility would be similar to other uses allowed in the district; and in all districts that allow public assembly. Ancillliary/accessory  uses such as day care, schooling, homeless shelter, food pantry...even a catering business.... may be regulated separately; although there appears to be considerable case law for ruling that ancilliary uses are integral parts of the church. There is also NY state case law favoring the use of one's home for church services. Most places maintain that localities have the responsibility to respond to legitimate community concerns associated the location of churches including compatibility, noise, traffic...but should be sure to not regulate them more harshly or leniently than similar land uses.


Our discussion concluded that the use table will have two categories for “Place of Worship”   One will be “In Home Worship” and will be permitted in all zones.  The second will be a “Place of Worship “ and will be a dedicated building or Church. This building will be allowed in all zones except the Conservation and Green Energy zone as a “conditional use”.  


Items that will be addressed for the conditions for a “Place of Worship” will be lighting, signage, screening , and parking.  Parking discussed was 1 parking space for 4 persons of occupancy.   Kevin Swartley has been working on a project for his church in the Town of Fayette and will e-mail the language they use for the conditions of a church in the new Fayette Zoning code. We will use this in consideration of our language.  Possible new conditional paragraph will be 310.23.


“In home worship” will be “permitted”  in all zones. 


“Restaurants” in use table will be allowed as conditional with 310.18 conditions in all Zones except Hamlets. Hamlet zones will have “Special Use” for restaurants and Churchs because of the need for control of parking, lot design, etc., for correct use in the more dense development area of a Hamlet.


Dave Stonesifer Letter to Board 

East Lake Road resident Dave Stonefiser wrote a letter to our board with copy to the Town Board, criticizing the Zoning Code for not allowing Residential Home Care in the Lake District Zone.  Dave’s description of “In Home Care” for disadvantaged folks allowed for a licensed, NYS inspected facility and care for four or fewer people.  After discussion, our board agreed  that this hould be a permitted use in all zones with four or fewer residents cared for.  With 5 to 9 residents cared for the use table will be the same as is now.  This allows these facilities as permitted in all zones except the Lakeshore Residential and Conservation and Green Energy Zones.  A facility with 10 or more residents will have to be investigated to develop consensus. Thomas Bjorkman will write an e-mail to Dave outlining our position and thanking him for clarifying the use.


Next Meeting:

The next regular meeting of the Varick Planning Board will be January 22nd 2008 at 7:00pm at the Varick Firehouse.


The meeting was adjourned at 8:35pm


Minutes respectfully submitted,

Bill Larzelere- Secretary