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Board approves live-work designation for high-visibility residential areas

The Town of Amherst has created a new zoning designation that seeks to preserve the homeowner quality of older parts of the town while allowing the properties to house limited commercial uses.

The "live-work zoning district" was approved by the Town Board last week. The goal of the new zoning designation is to give residential property owners along major town arteries more opportunities to capitalize on their high-visibility locations while protecting and maintaining the area's residential status, said Assistant Planning Director Gary Black.

"This actually turns a home on a busy road to an advantage," he said.

The first area where this live-work designation will likely apply is along sections of Bailey and Kenmore avenues in Eggertsville, he said. This area was once entirely residential but was rezoned to a "general business" classification in 1976. Despite this, most of the properties in this area remained residential, Black said.

The town's comprehensive plan encouraged the creation of a live-work zone that would embrace limited commercial uses of otherwise residential buildings. Property owners in the Bailey-Kenmore area were very supportive of the concept, Black said.

"We got 100 percent positive feedback," he said.

Individual properties in the live-work zone could house one or two families, in addition to the following types of low-intensity commercial businesses: ad agencies, tailor and shoe repair shops, art studios, beauty/barber shops, bed and breakfasts, offices, photography studios, on-site arts and crafts production and sale, and day cares.

Most general retail uses would be prohibited. Restaurants, drive-through businesses and any industrial uses would also be banned.

On any property that houses a commercial business, the business may not occupy more than 50 percent or 2,000 square feet of the overall property. Parking and signs would be restricted, and commercial hours of operation would be limited from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

A public hearing will be scheduled on the location of the first live-work zone at a later date.

The new zoning classification will likely be applied first to 25 to 30 properties in the Eggertsville/University Heights area, Black said. This includes properties on Kenmore Avenue west of Capen Boulevard and residential properties on the west side of Bailey Avenue, south of Grover Cleveland Highway.

"I would say it's a stable area," Black said. "We didn't see signs of deterioration, but we wanted to keep it that way."