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MORATORIUM SOUGHT ON CHANGES IN DOWNTOWN AREA

Some Village of Lancaster officials are hoping that a proposed six-month moratorium on changes to current businesses in the downtown district will give the village time to plan a coherent future for the area.

Mayor William Cansdale said Thursday that he will ask the Village Board at their next meeting Monday to approve the moratorium on use changes for buildings in the business district.

"The intent behind this is to prevent any undesirable changes in the business district until our revitalization study is completed and we have our ideas in place," Cansdale said. "My fear is that there might be some changes in vacant businesses down there that won't fit with what our consultants tell us."

In June, the village began a revitalization planning effort, led by Peter J. Smith & Co Inc. It should be done by mid-November, Cansdale said.

After the plan is finished, Cansdale said, the village's Planning Board will examine the downtown district to see if zoning changes are necessary.

"We didn't want to make the moratorium a year because a year was too long. Six months gives us time to consider our plan," Cansdale said. "We need a study of what's feasible, what will work downtown."

Cansdale said the ideal business district would be "a mix of retail and housing."

"Right now it's predominantly office space, with a little bit of retail and some vacant buildings. That's not the mix we want," Cansdale said. "We want the village business district to become the center of the community."

One official said that he, at least, will vote against any moratorium.

Trustee Francis X. Stock called the proposal "silly" and said it will send a bad signal to business owners already located in the downtown district.

"You're telling private businesses that they can't use their business properties the way they're entitled to," Stock said. "And it's not like we have a big rush in businesses changing uses in the business district."

"It just seems like grandstanding to me," Stock said.

To get a use change for a downtown business an owner now must file an application with the village's building inspector. The matter then is brought to the Village Board for consideration.

The Village Board will meet at 8 p.m. Monday in the Municipal Building, 5423 Broadway.

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