SENECA FALLS –– The Town Board Tuesday rejected a proposed zone change without even voting on the amendment.
First, the board voted 3-2 to declare itself lead agency for the State Environmental Quality Review Act process required for the zone change from one-family residential (R-1) to two-family residential (R-2) on the east side of Route 89 from Cayuga Lake State Park south to Noble Road.
Then members effectively killed the change by voting 3-2 not to approve a short form Environmental Assessment Statement that contained a declaration of negative environmental impact for the zone change.
The board made no effort to authorize a more detailed environmental study, making it moot to actually vote on the zone change.
The change would have affected 13 parcels, some of which already have the two or more dwelling units allowed in a R-2 zone.
The change was recommended by the town Zoning and Planning boards and the Seneca County Planning Board.
Town Attorney Patrick Morrell said the change would mean someone could build a two-family home in the area or a multi-family home with a special use permit from the Zoning Board.
He also said the change would be consistent with the town’s 2006 comprehensive plan.
“I feel this would be good for the community and help improve the town for the future. I support it. I don’t see it as a negative,’’ said Peter Same, town supervisor. “I think this is a good area for an R-2 zone, since it’s being used for that now.”
But board member Timothy Snyder asked why the change was needed, suggesting that anyone wanting a use that corresponds with an R-2 zone could be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Board member Duane Moore also questioned the need for the change, citing some neighborhood opposition and no housing project being in the works.
Morrell said three properties in the area have two or more housing units and that the town has approved a Planned Unit Development of townhouses at Route 89 and Noble Road, which has yet to be built.
“The market shows this is a good area for two- or multi-family uses,’’ Morrell said, noting the discussion began in September.
Board member T. J. Casamassima said the change could open up an opportunity for a development neighbors might not want.
Same suggested the board consider the future, not individual complaints, adding that the board is elected to make decisions.
When Moore said he wasn’t comfortable with the change in light of some opposition, Same asked if members wanted more information before making a decision. No one asked for more information.
Before the votes, Lower Lake Road resident Lucille Cook, a former board member, opposed the change. She said only two properties would qualify for R-2 designation and that only one property owner, Robert Povero, has asked for the change.
She requested that the Zoning Board be asked to rehear Povero’s denied request for permission to have more than one unit and to change the law to require a majority vote to rehear a case, not the current unanimous vote.
“I just want to be in compliance and go on with my life,’’ Povero said, noting that his property had four units when he bought it in 1999.