15 Sep 2014
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Zone Change Allowed For Greenwood Avenue Properties

More zoning changes may be in store for downtown area of Bethel

Zone Change Allowed For Greenwood Avenue Properties Zone Change Allowed For Greenwood Avenue Properties

 

 

Planning and Zoning met last night for a work session on whether or not to change the zoning of 225 and 227 Greenwood Avenue from Residential Multi-use Office to Commercial.

 The request alarmed neighboring residents, who wanted P&Z to consider changing the zoning from RMO to solely Residential.

 At last night's work session meeting, no public comments were allowed and a motion was distributed by Steve Palmer and was read by Commissioner Pat Rist. The motion was to approve an amendment to the official zoning designation of the properties from RMO to C.

Reasons given for the motion were: 

“In approving the zone change the Commission has determined that it is in keeping with the recommendations of the Plan of Conservation and Development, that it is consistent with the zoning scheme of the town and in particular in the immediate vicinity. Specifically, the Commission considered that property directly to the east and across the street on the south side of Greenwood Avenue are zoned commercial (C) and there is no discernible distinction between the two sides of the street that warrant the more restrictive RMO zoning designation on the subject properties. Moreover, the Commission believes that the zone change to (C) is a natural extension of the core downtown area and the area is desirable for mixed use development particularly because the subject properties have their frontage on State Route 302. Lastly, the Commission believes that because the subject properties are bound by the Village District Overlay zoning regulations, preservation of the historic character will be maintained and the potential negative impact of future potential uses on the surrounding neighborhood will be minimized."

Most, if not all, of Commissioners would have preferred to see the zoning changed to Village Center zoning, which they agreed was not dramatically different than commercial in terms of use, but in terms of zoning regulations, the difference was important.

 Under General Purposes, Section 41, Village Center zoning is to maintain, enhance and promote a mixed use pedestrian use with a strong sense of place. Commercial zoning seeks to maintain and enhance areas containing commercial uses to meet the needs of residents and businesses.

 According to Beth Cavagna, of the Inland Wetlands Commission, making that change could not happen at this time. She explained, “When you do a zone change it has to be adjacent to properties with that zoning. No other houses are currently zoned VC. They are either C or RMO.”

 Cavagna said that after the issue has been studied, the Commission can come back and change the entire area to VC zoning.

 A motion was made to put on the next meeting agenda to revisit the VC zone and regulations, and to begin studying the possibility of changing that area, as well as other downtown areas, to the VC zone.

 A vote was taken to approve the zone change for the two Greenwood Avenue properties to Commercial, and passed 5 to 2. However, the vote to allow the zoning change does not automatically approve any businesses, which must still have site plans approved.  

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