In an effort to make Valley Stream more business friendly, the village board approved a series of zoning code changes on Monday night, but not without some debate.
Though lightly attended, the public hearing had its share of heated moments, with Allen Bauman, an alternate member on the village planning board, calling on the Board of Trustees to delay the changes. He said that he was dissatisfied with some of the code changes, that there was disagreement over how some of the changes could be interpreted and that the zoning code should support the village’s master plan and the concept of smart growth.
“I think you have to do this entire thing over,” Bauman said, adding that developers could take advantage of a flawed zoning code.
However, Mayor Ed Fare said there has been more than adequate time for public comment, and many people did bring their concerns to the board prior to the hearing.
Village Clerk Bob Barra said he was offended by Bauman’s comment that the zoning changes were being done in a “piecemeal” fashion. In fact, Barra said, a committee of village officials worked on the changes for more than a year to address a wide variety of issues.
Barra also said that the zoning changes do support the master plan. The changes are necessary, he said, to support the plan, adopted last year by the village board, to foster a vision for the future of Valley Stream’s downtown.
Among the changes to the code, restaurants with 50 seats or fewer will be allowed to open without having to go to the Board of Zoning Appeals for a parking variance. Village officials say this is a way to encourage new businesses to come to Rockaway Avenue without the burden of trying to meet an unrealistic parking requirement.
David Sabatino, president of Envision Valley Stream and owner of the Sip This coffee shop, said that if this new provision had been in place when he opened in 2011, it would have saved him three months.
He also supported the new provision in the zoning code to allow hotels in the village’s commercial zones. Another major code change adds a provision to allow mixed-used development, which is typically ground-floor retail with housing above.