Concrete issues

Saratoga planning commission hears possible zoning violation, discusses rezoning, grandfathering concerns


The Saratoga Planning Commission met Tuesday for its monthly meeting, finishing in what one member called “record time,” but a letter from a Saratoga Town Council member slowed it a bit.

The letter, read aloud during the meeting, was from Steve Wilcoxson, a member of the Saratoga Town Council. In the letter, Wilcoxson alleged that the concrete plant on the east end of town was in violation of zoning ordinances. Wilcoxson requested notes and meeting minutes detailing the planning commission’s decision to grant authority to the owner of the concrete plant to build in that location.

In Wilcoxson’s letter, he said the land on which the plant sits is zoned for light industrial use, and alleged that the plant is in violation of the rules for a light industrial zone.

Saratoga’s zoning ordinance prohibits any structure in a light industrial zoned area that disseminates “smoke, gas, dust, odor or any other atmospheric pollutant outside the building.”

Saratoga zoning officer Dan Ferrin, who was at the meeting, was asked by a committee member if the concrete plant emitted dust.

Ferrin said he assumed it did, as dust is common at concrete mixing plants.

The committee also discussed a proposal to have the parcel of land occupied by the concrete plant rezoned as heavy industrial, which is the zoning category Wilcoxson said was required in his letter.

The commission pointed out that such a rezoning would be difficult to do, since the object of light industrial zoning is to act as a buffer zone between heavy industry zones areas and residential or commercial zones.

The light industrial zone the concrete plant occupies abuts a residential neighborhood.

While discussing how the commission voted to allow the concrete plant to build on land zoned as light industrial, commissioners said much of the decision was due to “grandfathering” the request; because a concrete plant had existed previously, the commission simply used that as a precedent.

One commission member said he thought the current plant would be built where a previous one had stood, but it was clear from looking at the map Tuesday it was built in another place.

Ferrin, for his part, said he hoped as town zoning officer that “grandfathering” of permitted usage would cease to occur in the future.

The commission voted to send the requested records to Wilcoxson.

The commission elected to not vote on a proposed Planning and Urban Development ordinance which is designed empower the commission to approve more mixed use zoning.

The commission said it would discuss the proposal at its next meeting and, if passed, would pass the ordinance on to the town council for adoption.

The next regularly scheduled meeting of the Saratoga Planning Commission is 5:30 p.m., Aug. 8 at Saratoga Town Hall.


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