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The Grand Island Town Board on Monday night adopted a new townwide zoning code that is designed to be in line with the goals of the town's master plan.

"It takes the master plan and puts it into practice," said Councilwoman Mary S. Cooke.

The new code, which was three years in the making, adheres to the comprehensive plan, Supervisor Peter A. McMahon said. "It will help preserve the character and quality of life of the town."

For years, the town's comprehensive plan and zoning code have been out of sync,McMahon said. The town's comprehensive plan went into effect in the mid-1990s and calls for the creation of a centralized business district, contained exclusively between the north and south Grand Island bridges, with the surrounding area to be residential.

But the old zoning code, which was adopted in 1972, encouraged sporadic business development all over town. The new code designates the centralized commercial area as described in the comprehensive plan. Businesses in other areas of the town are grandfathered into their locations, McMahon said.

The old code also allowed high density in subdivisions and other residential developments, while the comprehensive plan calls for preserving open space. The new code requires bigger lots for homes, creating more spacious communities. For example, on the west side of the town, a minimum of three acres is now required, up from a half-acre in the old code. "It will reduce the density,"McMahon said.

In addition, McMahon said the new code sets stricter requirements for special-use permits and creates enhanced environmental districts to protect "environmentally sensitive areas," such as streams and creeks.

About five public hearings were held while the new code was being put together, with residents and business owners adding their input and expressing concerns.

Without going into details, Councilman Daniel F. Robillard said he had some misgivings about the new code and its legality.

But Daniel A. Spitzer of Hodgson Russ, who specializes in land use law and worked on the code, said: "I'm not aware of anything in this code that is close to illegal." He said it boils down to how the town applies the code.


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