FULTON, NY – There is one more area in Fulton where people can live where they work, correcting a measure that the mayor believes helped “kill downtown.”
During regular business Tuesday (July 15) Fulton’s Common Council approved a zone change request from C2 – Commercial to C2A – Commercial for all properties located on the city blocks surrounded by Rochester Street, State Route 481, East Broadway and South First Street.
“It’s a very simple change. C2A will allow everything that’s allowed in C2 now, the only thing that will add to it is you’ll be able to live in a C2A,” Mayor Ron Woodward said. “You could live in it and could have a business because it’s commercial.”
The mayor explained that when Common Council changed the area to C2 during the last master plan update, but the zoning classification of C2A did not exist at that time.
“Since that time we have allowed businesses downtown to have mixed-use and reside down there. That’s when C2A was created – it’s considered a multi-use district,” Woodward said.
The mayor added that he feels this is a good thing for the city. “Right now, when they made this a C2, anybody who lived in those areas were grandfathered in. However, in the law for C2 or any of zoning that is grandfathered, if the property becomes vacant for a year or more it loses its non-conforming status and the grandfather clause no longer applies.”
“This will take that away,” Woodward said, adding, “If you are living in a C2 and something happens – you have to move for a year or it’s vacant for a year, (with this new classification) you don’t lose that use. You retain it for the life of the property.”
During the public hearing, Fultonian Scott Clark spoke to the Council and mayor as an affected resident and business owner in the proposed re-zoned area.
“I have to say, the designated use I love. I live in a multi-use building … the intent of the Council – I’m all for it,” Clark said. “My only concern is the other building that we own, the business center, is right in the middle of this designation. … The C2A designation does not include professional or office space.”
Clark noted that the C2 – Commercial Zone classification does specifically include this type of use, but the C2A does not. “The C2A has a similar list,” Clark said, “but it doesn’t list professional office space.”
Woodward responded immediately to Clark’s concern and said, “Well, if that becomes an issue, you’re still grandfathered, but we’ll change it, we’ll add it, we’ll do whatever we have to do.”
Woodward further assured Clark that even with the C2A – Commercial Zone change his property would retain its business use without the need for variances or special permits.
The businessman asked if it was possible to amend the resolution before the council voted but Woodward said, “no,” that would require re-advertising the matter.
The mayor explained that the C2A – Commercial Zone was now used in the downtown area.
“We couldn’t use C2A in the downtown until the Urban Renewal contract was up because that contract forbid anyone to live in the downtown area,” then the mayor added he felt that restriction, “pretty much killed our downtown.”
Going forward, Woodward wanted to assure Clark that Tuesday’s measure would be looked at again in the near future and modified as needed at that time.
“The Financial Restructuring Board has recommended that the city update its Comprehensive Master Plan,” the mayor said. “When we do, we’ll look at all this and correct anything we need to correct.”
The vote passed unanimously with councilors Tom Kenyon and Jim Myers absent.