neighbors oppose hemlock rezoning plan

By Elizabeth Simmons

Livingston County News
June 9, 2005

Town of Livonia

Neighbors of Ledco, Inc. and the 18123 Country Store in Hemlock are not willing to bet that the merchants and manufacturers will be there forever.

In an effort to encourage local businesses and employers to stay in the area, the town board chose to approve the rezoning request of the property of the 1812 Country Store and Ledco Inc. on Route 15A, near Big Tree Road.

A public hearing was held at Thursday's town board meeting. Robert Scott and Mark Wemett of Hemlock both feel that rezoning the property from residential to light industrial could be detrimental to Hemlock.

Though both property owners stated they have no problem with the current businesses operating at the locations, they are concerned about a bar or industrial operation moving into the area.

"There's nothing permanent in this world," Wemett told the town board Thursday. "What will happen to that property in the future? There may be a bar there ten years from now."

Robert Scott wrote a letter to the board in opposition to the rezoning , saying that it will increase the value of Ledco's property for sale to another business and Ledco could also receive tax benefits after gaining an industrial designation.

All manufacturers are eligible for this ten-year tax program but Ledco has not yet applied for it, according to Livingston County Economic Development Director Patrick Rountree. Though Scott pointed out that the program would require the rest of the Livonia community to absorb the benefits, Rountree said that it does not reduce taxes, it actually freezes them at the current taxation level.

Scott and Wemett suggested that the town encourage businesses to locate in the industrial designation in Lakeville.

All local businesses cannot locate in Lakeville, said Councilwoman Maureen Reynolds in response to Wemett's Request.

Kevin Masterson reminded the board and the public that the planning board would have prohibitive powers to determine what is suitable for the area if either of the businesses should vacate.

Comprehensive Plan

The town board has been struggling over the next step to take regarding the updated comprehensive plan.

Should the board conduct the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR), accept the plan and begin implementing the recommendations, or should they allow one final meeting at which they can hear the public's feeling on the final plan? That is the question they grappled with Thursday night, a topic which had also been discussed at the previous meeting.

Where the latter option may take them puts the board in an uncomfortable spot. Town Attorney Jim Campbell asked them if they allow a public hearing, which is not required by law, will they be taking action on the opinions and recommendations. The board concluded that none of them would like to see the plan revised again, and an extended contract with FRA.

Tara Boggio will present the SEQR findings at the June 16 meeting and Wahl said they have decided to allow a public comment period.

Councilman Andy English has been advocating for some further public input. English had expressed disappointment in the plan at the March meeting when John Flint of FRA presented the plan.

"I don't think they've really had the opportunity to do so, as the final plan"

The town has received some negative feedback from citizens, especially regarding public involvement in the plan. The meeting held in each hamlet of Livonia and in the village generally did not draw many people, according to Councilwoman Maureen Reynolds, who was on the plan's steering committee.

A final meeting at the school at which the draft plan was presented by Tara Boggio of FRA gleened a larger crowd. Reynolds said she believes the public had ample opportunity to respond to the plan.

4501 N.Main Street
P.O. Box 245
Hemlock, New York, 14466

May 31, 2005

Rezoning to Industrial


Dear Town Board:

I am Robert K. Scott, residing at 4501 North Main Street, in the Hamlet of Hemlock. I have resided at this location for more than 30 years and in the past have served the town on the Planning Board.

I am in opposition to the Ledco Inc. and related application to rezone lands from residential to industrial (light). For the reasons and comments presented in this letter I ask that the Town Board no further entertain the application and treat it as a Type II action as provided under the State Environmental Quality review Act (SEQR) regulation. the Town could offer its assistance and incentives to relocate the operation to the existing designated industrial lands in the Town. the existing industrial zone has been planned for the purpose and also has utilities of ample electric and natural gas, railroad, highway network and nearby interchanges which are in contrast to Hemlock. However, if the application is further entertained, an environmental impact statement should be required to address issues in this letter. A SEQR negative declaration cannot be supported considering an industrial designation in a setting of long standing residential use.

It is recommended that the Town Board contact Pat Rountree of the County ODA and Economic Development Office (next to the County Planning Department) for his written input on this specific matter. My visit with him indicates that once the lands proposed for industrial zoning are given that designation that a ten year tax abatement program is available and would reduce the Town, County and Livonia School District taxes for the entire parcel. Others in the community would absorb the benefit to Ledco, based in Cleveland Ohio, under the tax abatement.

One of the issues here is not just interim use by Ledco, but new industrial users that are not in the prohibited category of the Town regulation. If the parcel is rezoned it allows the sale of the land by the Cleveland Ohio based company at a higher market value to the new industrial user. The concern with potential new users, which a rezoning decision would allow, are the environmental and health impacts to residents and impacts to the community character of Hemlock. Potential industrial users could discharge very substantial amounts of pollutants underNTSDEC regulations to the ambient air and affect the well being of adjacent and nearby residents including their children. Industrial use could potentially include industry generating industrial and hazardous wastes that could be stored on site. the local community could be potentially at risk from accidental discharges and releases of product material and wastes from a new user even with preventative measures and safeguards. Noise and odors from users of an industrial parcel could adversely impact nearby residents. The outdoor storage of product and materials can detract from the character of the community and the residential setting. Residential property values could be adversely impacted by incompatible nearby industrial use.

The proposed industrial designation creates too many conflicts with the long established rural residential neighborhood and character of Hemlock. Such a designation excessively compromises the visual and aesthetic environment associated with the rural residential character of Hemlock. the proposal conflicts with the vision and goals of the adopted Comprehensive Plan for quality of life and health for residential areas, and the draft plan modification for preservation and protection of environmental resources. The community character and visual aesthetics environment of the Hamlet of Hemlock are environmental resources as defined in SEQR.

County Planning Board Comments - The following is offered based on a visit to the County Planning Office and a discussion and review of their records including the 5-12-05 staff report.

Under County - Wide Issues the County Planning Board fails to recognize the importance of focusing development i areas already appropriately zoned for industrial use, and is endorsing spot zoning in isolated rural areas. How can there be real support for Empire industrial zones in the County when there are competing industrial designations in rural residential areas.

Under Ag District - The County Board fails to recognize any of the long recognized conflicts between industrial zoned lands and the pollutant discharges from industry that can affect agricultural lands and agricultural products.

The County comments are incomplete in that they relate to the assumption that the applicant, Ledco, will continue as the user of the parcel. there is no recognition of other users who can occupy and use the site. in fact, it is likely, that a new industrial user will use the site as the Cleveland based company would be able to market the parcel as an industrial zoned parcel, and probably sell the land for more than under its present zoning classification.

County comment on the Comprehensive Plan - This County comment section is in error and unsupported in the presently effective Comprehensive Plan, or in the proposed modification. In fact, the County comments seem to avoid any recognition of the Town's Comprehensive Plan components to preserve and protect the community natural resources or the Hamlet's character.

It is worth noting that via recent contact with the County, the Town Planning Board Chairperson who is the town's representative to the Board voted in the affirmative to rezone. It would seem more appropriate to abstain from the issue since the person operates a commercial business in a residential zone, the information is incomplete and the matter is a land use decision for the Town Board.

In summary, I am in opposition to the request and am available to meet and discuss this with you.


Robert K. Scott

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