Penn Yan starts work on waterfront zoning

Loujane Johns

Village officials agree with a resident who has raised concerns about wording in a proposed amendment to zoning regulations in the waterfront development district along the Keuka Outlet.

The village board agreed to pass the proposed regulations on to the Yates County Planning Board for its review, and assured Anne

Gunn that a section of the law requiring properties in the district to provide a pedestrian easement for a walking trail will be amended to clarify that the requirement will apply to the south side of the outlet only.

Following the Yates County board’s review, the regulations will be brought back to the village planning board for final action.

Gunn told the board she is concerned that officials in the future might interpret the original wording as a requirement that all property owners give an easement for a trail over their private residential property.

Gunn lives on property on the north side of the Keuka Lake marsh, on the Elm Street side of the waterway. She has spoken out in the past about a proposal in the village’s master plan for a boardwalk spanning the marsh which would pass behind her family’s property.

“There are a very small number of things I consider precious and privacy and enjoyment of one’s property is one of those things,” Gunn said.

Rich Pierle, chairman of the subcommittee that established the new zoning regulations, said the requirement pertains to future development and will not impact Gunn’s area.

He said the intent is to establish a walkway on the southside of the outlet that goes as far as Red Jacket Park.

“You are setting legal groundwork and we know from past experience, after 10 to 15 years, no one will  know what your intent was,” said Gunn.

Mayor Robert Church said he agreed with Gunn’s concern, but said he didn’t think the intent of the proposed regulation was to force existing property owners to provide an easement.

He suggested the regulation be amended to require such easements on the southside of the outlet only.

Village and county officials appear eager to have regulations in place as soon as possible for the waterfront district because developers are showing interest in proposing major projects in the area.

Church said his most recent discussions with county officials lead him to believe Yates County will have clearance from state environmental officials to sell the former Penn Yan Marine property, which is a major portion of the district, and an area where there is interest in development.

The state DEC has established a plan for cleaning up the contamination on the former boat factory site. Some of the clean-up work has been done under the supervision of the Environmental Protection Agency, and county crews have done additional work. Future development will need to include additional clean-up and monitoring measures.

While the county planning board reviews the regulations as they are written, Pierle’s subcommittee will begin working on an amendment clarifying that the trail easement requirement will apply to the southside of the outlet only.

Once the county planning board reviews the regulations, the village board will adopt the local law that adds the regulations to the village code. By moving forward now with the wording as it is, the board should be able to adopt the local law in January so regulations are in place as soon as possible, before a property sale goes through and building plans begin.

If the amendment was made now, before going to the county planning board, progress in enacting the law would be held up because another public hearing will need to be held on the amendment.

When Gunn asked Church if he would give his word that the amendment would be put in place, he quickly replied, “Absolutely.”