The Town of Wayne held the second in a series of public hearings on their proposed new Land Use Regulations (LUR) Tuesday, Sept. 11. The audience of about 25 were invited to hear the reasoning behind the new laws and to offer suggestions for the final draft.

Town Supervisor Stephen Butchko explained that the old law really only made distinctions between lakeshore properties and the agricultural/residential district, with one small area for industry. 

“Since that law was drafted in the 70s and 80s, the town has evolved,” says Butchko, and the old code was creating problems for residents as well as the planning board. 

Stan Witkowski, Chairman of the Planning Board, says the old law “is a disjointed mess,” adding that it is inconsistent and disorganized, with legislation written in the definitions section as an example. Witkowski says that there are hundreds of variances required by residents every year, and the board spends their time flipping back and forth in the old code hoping to find the relevant passages.

Butchko explains that unlike the old “one shoe fits all” way, the new regulations create nine “neighborhoods” with rules designed to fit the character of each area. For example, there will be large and small lot regulations for the different lakefront neighborhoods on Keuka and Waneta Lakes. An area like Sylvan Beach on Waneta Lake, created with tiny lots long before any code existed, requires its own regulations because of those lot sizes. Butchko recalls one resident there required nine variances under the old code to do a rebuild project. Steep-slope, hillside residences with lake views are another relatively new type of neighborhood requiring specialized codes; as are the 54 farms now claiming agricultural exemptions, up from nine just a decade ago, growing from 600 acres to over 4,000 acres in total.

“The object is to help get these existing places out of non-conformity,” says Butchko, and he hopes the new LUR will help preserve the character of Wayne while also improving life for the residents. 

One of those future improvements may be a public water supply. With areas of the town having poor access to or quality of well water, and questions over the future quality of lake water, Butchko says he is trying to think 50 years down the road. With that in mind, the NYSEG hydro-electric plant property has been proposed as municipal use only if ownership is ever transferred. That will allow Wayne to have access to the lake for a water supply, and property for a treatment plant in the future. Butchko stresses that by New York State Law, NYSEG will have to conduct a cleanup of the site before a transfer of ownership to anyone else can be made.

Butchko says all the suggestions taken at the public hearing as well as stacks of emails received, will be considered in the next draft. The board will meet for a workshop session to consider the suggestions from residents in the new LUR, and then present the new draft before the next public hearing at the Oct. 9 town board meeting.