Margaretville zoning will stand; new retail buildings permitted

By Julia Green
The first item on the agenda following the call to order at Monday’s Margaretville board meeting was a discussion regarding the zoning law and previously proposed changes that would make possible the construction of new retail space in the village.
On hand for the discussion were Nicole Franzese, director of the Delaware County Planning Department, and David Merzig, the village attorney.
Franzese echoed what the board communicated at its March meeting: that changes to the zoning proposed in 2001 were never filed with the New York State Department of State, and the 1992 zoning amendment is the ordinance that is currently in effect. That zoning law permits use of retail space in existing buildings and requires that retail use in new buildings be considered “special use” and, as such, require a special permit.
“There’s just no question – it is what it is,” Merzig said in the meeting, but added that, “The board always has the power to change its laws.” That is, if the board wished to implement the amendments that were never filed in 2001 they could, provided that they followed the proper procedure required for any local law.
That leads to the question of why, if the board already went through the proper channels of holding public hearings, taking the issue to the board, and voting, they don’t simply adopt the amendments of 2001.
“There’s been such a significant change in circumstances,” Merzig said in an interview. “It would be improper and invalid to file the ones from 2001. Local laws need to be filed within a reasonable time after they’re passed to be valid.”
He added that five or six years is not a reasonable time.
The zoning ordinance came under scrutiny when a proposed change coincided with plans to build a Family Dollar store next to the Margaretville post office. Critics of the plans cited the zoning regulations presented to investors who purchased the A&P with plans to renovate the plaza, and argued that those investors operated under the assumption that no other retail space could be built in the village.
“There isn’t always a legal cure for any injustice,” Merzig said.
He added that the courts will usually allow someone who has acted in good faith under a law assumed by all parties to be valid to continue going forward, particularly in the area of zoning, but said that injuries in the future are more difficult to address.
A request was made that no changes to the zoning be made until the Comprehensive Plan is finished; it is anticipated that a public hearing with the committee will be held in early July, after which the plan will go to the village board.
In other business Monday, a motion was carried to appoint Harold Fox as the new village constable. Fox spent 20 years with the NYPD, 15 as a detective, and will begin work Saturday. The board also approved a motion regarding Smart Growth funding, which, if received, they intend to put toward landscaping and lighting of Bridge Street.