The Village Board on Monday unanimously adopted a master plan that allows townhouses and condominiums in areas where they are not currently permitted and extends the Center Street business district to the waterfront.
Trustee William Geiben, who headed the Master Plan Committee, said two-thirds of the village remains unchanged.
Michael Merino of R&D Engineering called the plan a guide for future development, allowing townhouse and condominium development in current R2 (residential/duplex), R3 (residential/multifamily) and R4 (residential/multifamily and professional) zones. They are already allowed in R5 (single-family townhouse) zones.
"There is a demand for owner-occupied, higher-density housing in the village; that's why it has become allowable. Any potential development would have to be reviewed. Just because it's in the master plan doesn't mean its automatically allowed," Merino said.
"When a developer comes in," Geiben said, "we will work with the developer to get the best project for the property. Each project is unique."
Many of the 50 residents who came to the hearing had negative comments about the plan. Several said they thought that the new designations would significantly alter the village's character.
Pearl Arrington was an outspoken opponent, calling it a plan for overdevelopment.
"Developers will come in and ruin Lewiston and get out," Arrington said.
Gretchen Morgan compared Lewiston to Niagara Falls of 45 years ago, warning the board that Lewiston would be destroyed by suburban sprawl.
Jeff Williams supported the board's plan and counseled against being overly restrictive. "Each project should be looked at individually so that it can match its neighborhood. When you set one plan it becomes like a cookie cutter box. You take away all the individuality," Williams said.
"We feel the same as you do," Trustee Kenneth Kenney said. "You know it looks better now than it did 50 years ago when it was all beer joints and gas stations," said Kenney.
Trustee Terry Collesano said, "Ken and I have lived here all our lives, close to 60 years. We don't want to change the character. We don't want to see big changes, but it needs to grow, and we do have areas for it. It can (grow) if it's done in a tasteful way."