SYRACUSE -- Driven by a request from a local business for better visibility, city leaders have adopted a new zoning classification.
Members of the city council voted to create a neighborhood services zoning designation. The request was driven by Russell Rentmeister of Rentmeister & Co. Inc.
The zoning designation is expected to create a zone that would be either isolated or transitional in nature, which would permit a mix of small-scale uses, including commercial, professional office and local services.
City Planner Kent Anderson said city officials will be able to select where the zone will be applied in the city when the Planning Commission tackles an update of the city's general plan. That update will be subject to final approval by the city council.
Anderson noted the zone was not created to deal with a zoning controversy in the area near Syracuse High School, where a proposed flex zone was proposed for a development in the area by Ninigret but eventually voted down by the city council. The neighborhood services zone will only apply to areas of five acres or less, he said.
City officials wrestled with permitted uses in the newly created zone and also established conditional uses that would be allowable before approving the measure.
Councilman Brian Duncan did not like the idea that an automotive repair facility would be allowed as a permitted use in the zone. He pushed for limiting what permitted uses would be in the designated areas. A number of potential uses in the designation were changed from permitted to conditional for the final plan.
Resident Ray Zaugg worried that if the zone was being created to deal with only one business, a poor precedent would be set.
"It seems to me this zoning was put in with a certain company in place. It concerns me. It sends the wrong message if it looks like we are making a zone to accommodate one company," Zaugg said.
Duncan agreed, but said he sees other applications for the zone beyond Rentmeister's need for visibility.
"If this were just a question of a zone for Rentmeister, I wouldn't be interested in it, either. I see this as a useful benefit. I'm not doing this for Rentmeister."