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Johnstown approves zoning law

December 21, 2010
The Leader Herald

JOHNSTOWN - The city has its first new zoning ordinance in decades.

The Common Council unanimously approved the measure Monday night.

Among other provisions, the ordinance increases the number of zoning districts from nine to 14; creates a commercial zone for the central business district and a preservation overlay zone in it; and allows industrial uses in the city's two industrial parks only.

The new commercial zone is more restrictive than the current industrial zone.

Existing mills will be allowed to operate under an "existing non-conforming use," said 2nd Ward Councilman J. Christoper Foss, chairman of the city's Zoning Review Committee.

Any mills that close will be allowed to reopen within 24 months under the existing non-conforming use, but if they take longer than 24 months to reopen, they will have to adhere to the new zoning regulations no matter where they are in the city, Foss said.

Robert Subik, an attorney in the city, spoke during the public-comment portion of the meeting and encouraged the council to drop the 24-month provision.

"The things we do to make it more difficult to create jobs are counterproductive," he said.

City officials want to see fewer industries in the center of the city and more in the city's two industrial parks. The new ordinance allows for that to happen gradually.

"Historically, they have been in the center of the city so people could walk to work," he said.

Foss said the revision was done at little or no cost to city taxpayers.

"Other municipalities have spent money to hire outside consultants, but we did it without that," he said. "It was all done with volunteer work from the Fulton County Planning Department."

The Zoning Review Committee began its work in June 2007.

"Zoning has to be based on the comprehensive plan, so we started with a review of that," Foss said. "It was revised and passed, and then we rewrote the zoning law for the city."

Mayor Sarah Slingerland praised Foss and the committee members for their work.

A draft version of the ordinance is online at City officials said a final version of the ordinance will be posted on the website in a few weeks.

This story has been updated to correct an inaccurate name.



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