Should Height Restrictions Be Amended?

This blog is part of an ongoing public education effort by the Citizens Campaign For Open Village Government

At the Patchogue village board meeting of of Jan. 14, 2013, Trustee Tom Ferb introduced a resolution to amend height restrictions in areas zoned E industrial.

A public hearing on this resolution is scheduled for Jan. 28, 2013 at village hall at 6pm.

This resolution, in an attempt to accommodate the new FEMA floodplain requirement, addresses the definition of "height of building" and, as well ,would allow a 15 foot increase in building height, that is, from 45  to 60 feet in E industrial areas. 

Introduction of this resolution, at this time, suggests that the Board wishes to attract and accommodate further development in the villlage.  In and of itself, this may not be a bad thing.  Why not, however, let the Zoning Board of Appeals decide issues, such as height, on a case by case basis?  This provides residents the opportunity to have a voice regarding each application, allows the ZBA to fulfill their responsiblilty to protect the interests of the residents and helps to maintain a reasonable balance between the rights of the residents and the rights of the developers.

Allthough the impetus for this resolution is the new floodplain requirement, this is not a riverfront issue only. It affects E industrial throughout the village. It was introduced, however, without specifically identifying all of the areas in the village zoned E industrial and therefore impacted by the height amendment.  Some residents may be unaware that they live in close proximity to an E industrial zone and may suddenly and surprisingly find themselves living next to a 60 foot building.  Itemizing the affected parcels would serve to notify those residents, living in or near E industrial, of a change which can have significant impact on their property values, their quality of life and the character of their neighborhoods.

A "blanket" or overall extension of height allowance throughout the village ignores the fact that many E industrial areas are not in floodplain, are not subject to the new FEMA requirement and therefore those residents and their neighbors will be unecessarilly exposed  to the effects of overdevelopment

Why the haste?  If this resolution becomes law the aesthetics and character of the entire village will be forever altered.  Shouldn't that require more careful consideration of the issues?


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John Bogack January 29, 2013 at 12:34 PM
Well, well, well we all got surprised. No proposed 60 foot allowance...gone. Old standards reamain effect. Changes now related to the flood zones of the village and not just the E industrial district. Homeowners and business owners of all zones get the same break in terms of measuring height. That is an offset for what FEMA wants for safe building. The people spoke, the Mayor and the Trustees listened and the law that was passed seems a lot more practical, has more common sense, and less the appearance of self interest than the law ealier that had been slated for approval. So maybe things can change for the good after all. BTW big turnout of residents too.
David Kennedy January 30, 2013 at 03:13 AM
Well, well, indeed! But alls well? Not so sure... Yes, glad to see what the Village passed was more reasonable and more directed to answer new FEMA regulations regarding building in floodplains. And John, you are right...the public spoke up, showed up, and the Village responded. ( To Mr. Adriano...residents are in charge when residents take charge.) Make no doubt about it, these changes were made do to the growing concerns coming from residents on this proposal. Still, some concerns linger...while no reasonable person can argue that those who rebuild from damage sustained by sandy, or new construction being built in a flood plain zones, should expect some compensation in height to make up with lost usable space on lower levels as FEMA now requires. Still, the rush to pass this really left no time for some proper analysis and explanations what these changes could result in long term. Which leads to my next point...why the rush? The fact is, when the smoke is cleared, a current project along the riverfront (Fatfish), currently stalled because of their request to have current height restrictions lifted, now can see a clearer path to approval under these new regulations. The speed in which these changes were approved enhances the argument this was really about Fatfish all along.
David Kennedy January 30, 2013 at 03:15 AM
More importantly, the quick passage kept residential comments and questions to a bare minimum. Truth is what was passed was very different to what was proposed. Though I understand Attorney Egan did a nice presentation, it was the first time anyone had a chance to digest the information presented. What would have been wrong if the public comment period on this was extended? As far as I see it, we deserved, at the very least, a second public hearing to consider the new changes. Obviously the public showed interest on this, no one would have objected more time to consider. Why not provide that? Regardless, what’s done is done, just keep it all in mind. Those newly engaged by this, please say engaged.
Been Here a Long Time January 30, 2013 at 09:17 PM
David, I agree 100%. The law/statute they passed on Monday evening was completely different from the one which was being considered in the first place. The initial change should have been voted down and the new information should have been presented at a new public hearing on a date certain so that the board and the community had an opportunity to digest it. Fatfish can now rise to 53 or 54 feet which is, I believe, their initial fall-back height. The whole thing smells!
Jo Miller January 30, 2013 at 11:00 PM
David, Indeed it was about Fatfish from the start. The goal was never 60 ft but Fatfish getting 53 or 55 ft without going before the ZBA. Furthermore, there should have been a new public hearing scheduled re the revised plan. I guess they didn't want to give the public a chance to think about it.


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