Letter to the Editor
I would like to correct what I believe are some mistakes, in the July 19, 2017 article addressing the concrete plant issues. The concerns of mine are the actions of the Planning Commission not in the article published in the paper.
The first correction that I would like to point out is that in my letter to Councilman Faust I stated that I want to be perfectly clear that I support the Concrete plant in our town and believe that it should continue doing business in the town. That was pointed out in my letter to Councilman Faust. I have included a copy of my letter to support my position. What I don't support is the planning Commission making a decision that should have been done by the Town Council.
I served as the Council Representative for the Planning Commission in my last term and during that time there were a couple of things that was explained to me at that time, by the Town Attorney and the Attorney's for the Liability Pool was that zoning ordinances have specific uses, outlined in each zone. These differ from zone to zone and the only conforming uses are out lined in permitted uses or special use. Not about smoke, gas, dust, odor or any other atmospheric pollutant outside the building. Anything outside of the specific uses or special uses, had to be approved by variance or by a change in the zoning ordinance to allow the different use. This should have been handled by making a change to the Zoning District not by the Planning Commission "interpreting" the ordinance, as Councilman Faust told me what happened, but by the City Council. At the time I was on the Planning Commission these type of questions was turned over to the Town Attorney for his legal opinion. I would like to point out that the Planning Commission is a board that recommends, to the Council, action that should be taken according to them, and then the Council takes the action, if it agrees.
The changing of the zoning to allow different use happened more than once when I served in that capacity. Retail business was changed to allow a property owner in that district to have concerts on their property, something that was not allowed before. The next example was when Will Ward came to the planning commission for a building permit to build a shop, in light industrial, with living quarters upstairs. It wasn't allowed but the Planning Commission agreed that it should be, so Light Industrial was changed to allow it.
I believe that the Light Industrial Zoning ordinance should be changed to what is being allowed at this time! The Planning Commission appears to agree that this use should happen so Light Industrial Use should be expanded, by the City Council, to reflect what the Planning Commission recommends. For the record if the Planning Commission had a proposal, to change the Light Industrial Zone to allow this use, in front of the Council, at the next meeting, I would support it.
I understand that the Planning Commission believed that the Concrete Plant would be a benefit to the Town, which I agree with, but I do not agree with the way it was allowed. If the Planning Commission is going to ignore the ordinance and allow something that is not conforming,
Because they think that it would be good for the town, then that same attitude should be extended to anyone else that wants to use a piece of property for other than what is permitted.
This brings me to another point, within the last 6 months I was approached by a land owner, in residential district that wanted to start an automotive repair shop on his residential property.
I explained that this was not allowed, even by variance, so he would have to proceed in a zone that allowed it. If we were to apply the same logic as what was used, in allowing the concrete plant, he should have been allowed to start his business. It is only when the laws are not enforced equally that the problem occurs. From the first time I ran for Councilman one of the complaints was that the citizens of this town did not believe that the laws were being enforced equally and I have made that a priority when I serve as a Councilman.
I would also like to go on record as saying that I support any change that would allow more freedom for the land owners to use their property as they see fit. Example: Mixed Use Zoning.
I encourage our citizens, that have an interest or opinion of this issue or the nuisance ordinance, our airport, our roads, river project etc, to contact a council member to have your voices heard.
Steven E. Wilcoxson
Saratoga Town Councilman