Caroga updates zoning laws

Town of Caroga clerk Linda Gilbert asks questions regarding the proposed new town zoning ordinance on Wednesday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

CAROGA — The town held a public hearing Wednesday on the proposed update to its zoning ordinance.

Town Planning Board Chairman Al Kozakiewicz went through his presentation on proposed updates to the town’s zoning ordinance and some of the changes made.

Following his presentation, residents were able to ask any questions and address any concern they might have on the proposed update to the town’s zoning ordinance.

“There’s two main reasons we wanted to update the zoning ordinance. One was to at least set the stage to realize the comprehensive plan and basically to do updates to the ordinances that basically have been unchanged since 1979,” Kozakiewicz said. “We wanted to make sure that the ordinance reflected the circumstances today and not what they were 30 years ago.”

Kozakiewicz said it wasn’t until the 1960s when the town had any regulations, such as building codes and sanitation laws. It was in 1992 when the town had its first building code, and the first comprehensive plan didn’t come until after the town’s current zoning ordinance, which was adopted in the late 70’s.

Town of Caroga Planning Board Chairman Al Kozakiewicz goes over the proposed new zoning ordinance Wednesday. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

He said after a few decades and following the closing of Sherman’s, officials began to look at what their vision for the town is and created a new comprehensive plan.

“There was a committee that did that and asked the planning board to create an updated zoning ordinance to help realize the plan,” Kozakiewicz said. “So we started that in 2012 and finished in 2016.”

The comprehensive plan is a vision document stating what the goals of the town are and the zoning ordinance has to be in accordance with the comprehensive plan.

Kozakiewicz suggested that every one glimpse through the town’s comprehensive plan, which is built around tourism, restaurants, commercial presence and is centered around Sherman’s and maintaining the beauty of living in Caroga.

Some of the constraints the town has had to deal with regarding the updated zoning ordinance include Caroga being in the Adirondacks and the constraints the Adirondack Park Agency have on it. The APA has to approve the town’s land use plan.

“We’re one of 18 out of 80 Adirondack towns that actually have our own zoning ordinance that the APA has accepted, which means that for almost everything we do here — building, sub-division, site-use plans, special use permits, things of that nature — we get to do ourselves,” Kozakiewicz said. “We have control. For towns that don’t have a zoning ordinance, everything goes to the APA.”

One of the things APA looks at is structures and how clustered the structures are.

“So, what we focused on was what uses would we allow in the existing zoning districts. Lest anyone worry, nothing has changed in terms of what you’re doing with your property today,” Kozakiewicz said.

Kozakiewicz showed residents maps of the current zoning and of the proposed zoning.

Some changes made between the two maps were changing some areas from resort to lakefront and rezoning a strip of property near Fisher Road and Sgt. Witzke Drive to highway commercial with the idea of it being used as a commercial development since it’s one of the entrances into the town.

“There was no point in having a confusing set of uses for properties that didn’t make any sense,” Kozakiewicz said.

In the old ordinance, there were only 71 terms and definitions, and the proposed ordinance now has 223 terms and definitions.

A lot of that has to do with commercial uses which has 71 definitions and before was only defined as “business” but was vague on what type of business was being run, Kozakiewicz said.

Dimensional standards were updated to be consistent with the APA guidelines.

The proposed zoning ordinance has four regulations of use types: Uses allowed by right, uses allowed with site plan approval, uses allowed with special-use approval and prohibited uses.

Anything requiring a special-use permit includes manufactured home parks, an accessory dwelling, any agriculture, animal hospital, cemetery, private clubs, wind energy systems and solar farms.

Other zoning updates include signage, fencing, plantings, parking regulations and more. The proposed updated zoning ordinance can be found at the town’s website at townofcaroga.com.