2018-02-13 / Front Page

Proposed Walton Zoning Change Met With Resistance

Gifford‘s Sport Supply owner Dick Gifford asks for a zoning change from residential to multi-use for a portion of Stockton Avenue at a meeting of Walton trustees on Monday, Feb. 5. Gifford‘s Sport Supply owner Dick Gifford asks for a zoning change from residential to multi-use for a portion of Stockton Avenue at a meeting of Walton trustees on Monday, Feb. 5. WALTON - Nearly 50 Walton residents turned out to voice their objection to a proposed zoning change, from residential to mixed use, along a portion of Stockton Avenue in the village of Walton at a public hearing held on Feb. 5.

Many neighborhood residents complained of the potential for additional traffic, as well as fears of non-residential development in the area. The proposed zoning change, on Stockton Avenue from Sewell Place to Maple Street, was advocated for by Code Enforcement Officer and Flood Plain Manager Steve Dutcher, who said there are many businesses operating in the area including Delaware Valley Hospital, Gifford’s Sports Supply, The Walton Grange, and The Castle on the Delaware, that have obtained variances.

The change, Dutcher said, would merely allow for what was already occurring in the area.

Dick Gifford, owner of Gifford’s Sport Supply, at 133 Stockton Avenue, spoke in favor of the proposed zoning change because it would make his two adjacent lots more saleable.

Charlene Gregory favored the proposed change but asked that it be limited to the specific area where the current businesses are operating.

Brian Foster, who lives at the intersection of Stockton Avenue and Sewell Place, opposed the rezone, stating that a similar attempt at rezoning 13 years ago failed. “It doesn’t make any sense to go commercial,” Foster said, “It’s always been residential.”

Dutcher explained that commercial businesses would not be permitted under a mixed-use designation, and only “momand pop-type shops,” similar to those that are currently operating, would be permitted.

Paul Wood spoke out against the proposal indicating that a rezone would not help direct traffic back to Delaware Street, which has always been the commercial district. Additionally, Wood said, the zoning board of appeals exists for specific nonconforming use requests.

Dutcher explained that because of the sizeable area along Stockton Avenue that already has variances it is largely out of compliance with what it is zoned for. Additionally, Dutcher said, “If people want businesses where their feet are going to be dry, let’s give them options.” Dutcher then stated that even with all of the planned flood mitigation work completed, that Delaware Street will continue to flood.

Many Delaware Street buildings are aging, Dutcher said, and it would be cost prohibitive to flood-proof any of those structures located in the flood way. If those Delaware Street buildings were demolished, Dutcher said, rezoning on Stockton Avenue would give those existing Delaware Street businesses relocation options.

In response to Dutcher’s statement, Howell Street resident Maxine Locherer asked the village board members why work was being done on Delaware Street if flooding was not going to be prevented.

Dutcher explained the Delaware Street is still the village’s “Main Street,” and that proposed flood-mitigation work will make it “look inviting.”

Jim Hoyt, a Fancher Avenue resident, also opposed the proposal. If the village “began chipping away” at south side zoning, Hoyt said, that it may pave the way for the relocation of the proposed new Delaware County Mental Health Facility to be built on Fancher Avenue, which neighborhood residents have publicly and vocally opposed.

Mayor Ed Snow stated that the proposed relocation of the mental health facility is a separate issue from the proposed rezoning on Stockton Avenue.

Following the 42-minute hearing, trustees unanimously voted to rezone a portion of Stockton Avenue, from Sewell Place to Williams Street, upon the approval of the village attorney, despite the fact that New York discourages small section rezones as “spot zoning.”

Snow announced on Friday, Feb. 9 that the village’s attorney advised against the proposed rezone, and because of that, Snow said, the municipality will not move forward on the issue.

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