FALCONER - Ellicott officials will re-evaluate potentially out-of-date zoning laws by reappointing a new zoning commission.
"This is something we started a while back," said Robert Heintzelman, town board member. "We want to take a look at our code and our zoning and try to get it up to date. Last time we spoke about this, we had a long talk about signs, which got us to the idea of getting some people together to form a commission. We started this a few years ago with but then (a key member) left and the ideas went away, so now we're trying to get some people together to see about revisiting that."
When the reappointment of a zoning board was brought to discussion, several members of the town board began to discuss two neon signs which are posted by Southwestern Central School.
"Bright neon signs like the ones at Southwestern School are prohibited in the town of Ellicott," said William Wright, town attorney. "However, schools are given lots of priority. They are not required to come in for site plan review, they are not required to follow certain zoning laws and they are given lots of exemptions. ... It's just hard to argue to other residents that you're not allowed to do that in the town of Ellicott when they can point to those signs."
Wright suggested the proposed zoning commission be kept to four members, which received approval from members of the board. Subsequently, Wright offered to serve as a member.
"Really, I've said for years that the town of Ellicott is extremely diverse, but we have a one-size-fits-all residential zone," said George Beckerink, town board member. "Our (zoning laws) are meant to apply to (expansive) residential areas, as well as tight lake communities where people are creating buildings on top of other buildings. It simply doesn't work."
Though each member has not yet accepted their position on the commission, Cecil Miller, town supervisor, believes that Dan Evans, Dave Rowe and Steve Hoagland will assume positions, in addition to Wright, on the zoning commission. Heintzelman will serve as the commission's liaison to the town board.
"The town of Ellicott is a large with diverse neighborhoods, centers of agriculture, commercial areas and industrial parks," said Miller. "However, our zoning laws do not reflect this diversity. The reason for forming this commission is to accommodate each part of the town with reasonable and updated zoning laws, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. We hope, with the aid of the commission, that progress can be made."
The commission will meet independent of the town board. Updates will be provided to the board intermittently.