SYRACUSE -- One potential zone already has been rejected and another possible zone appears to be in trouble, so Mayor Jamie Nagle is going back to basics in an effort to advance a possible development near Syracuse High School.
Nagle is working to establish an ad hoc committee made up of residents, city staff and at least two members of the city council, in an effort to break what appears to be a major logjam in moving forward a development near SHS proposed by Ninigret Corporation.
Councilmen Craig Johnson and Doug Peterson and resident Ray Zaugg have been asked to be part of the committee. Nagle hopes to bring opponents and proponents of the development together to find common ground, to see if the project can move forward.
The effort comes following the latest roadblock to arise since the project was initially outlined last year.
"In the interest of trying to remove government from being a barrier, let's start there, instead of going back to square one," Nagle said of the impasse.
Two zoning designations designed with the developer in mind have run into trouble. The first, a proposed flex zone, was rejected by the city council in early May and the second, a business park zone, ran into a number of roadblocks. During a recent city work session, council members suggested the designation would not be a fit for the proposed development area.
A potential business park zone was developed from discussions this year at the planning commission level, but has never been brought before the city council for final approval.
Mike Ostermiller, who represents Ninigret, said with just a few more permitted uses in the business park zoning designation, the zoning would fit.
"I think a lot of this zone is great. It's a great starting point," Ostermiller said. He said adding some permitted uses, including equipment rental and storage, warehousing and wholesale and bulk distribution, and fabrication and assembly treatment, would help Ninigret accomplish what it needs to move ahead with the development.
There are 23 proposed uses in the business park zoning designation, so Ostermiller didn't think adding a few would adversely impact the zone.
Besides permitted uses, the landscaping provisions of the business park zone were seen as potentially problematic. The zone could require as much as 15 percent landscaping, rather than the standard 10 percent, which several officials think could be an issue.
Councilman Brian Duncan said creating a business park zone is something the council should consider even if it doesn't fit the Ninigret project. He discussed his problems with the zone in the area Ninigret proposes to develop.
"I want to give Ninigret their day. I don't see this as the place a create a zone. I don't see this happening with this right now," Duncan said.
Ninigret has proposed developing 193 acres of land between 1000 West and 2000 West into a light manufacturing hub, with the promise of generating as many as 1,200 jobs. Part of the proposed development land is currently owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
A small portion of property close to the high school is already zoned for industrial use. Ostermiller said Ninigret will move ahead with development of that area.
After more than an hour of discussion among council members, Nagle decided the next course of action is to form a committee and step back to try and find common ground.