Council to consider new laws

GLOVERSVILLE — The Common Council on Tuesday will conduct a series of public hearings and consider several proposed ordinances that would reduce minimum parking space requirements for development projects to promote growth and would allow administrative enforcement of existing landscaping requirements by the city’s neighborhood quality administrator, potentially reducing penalties for non-compliance while speeding up remedies.

Among the ordinances up for consideration by the Common Council on Tuesday is a piece of legislation that would modify a section of city code containing an itemized schedule for minimum off-street parking requirements for development.

The ordinance would reduce the minimum number of parking spaces required for residential projects to one off-street parking space per housing unit. Under city code residential development projects currently require one parking space for each studio apartment, one and a half spaces for each single bedroom apartment and two spaces for each two-bedroom apartment.

The ordinance would also remove mandatory minimum off-street parking requirements for commercial, industrial and manufacturing projects, instead leaving the determination of adequate parking levels to the discretion of the Planning Board.

To ensure adequate parking to support projects is secured by developers, the city code would be modified to state, “During the site plan review process, with respect to off-street parking, the Planning Board shall take into account the proposed use, pedestrian accessibility and other reasonable indications that the amount of parking is adequate to meet estimated parking needs.”

The proposed ordinance comes on the heels of several redevelopment projects that proposed to renovate existing downtown buildings that struggled to meet minimum parking requirements currently contained in city code while undergoing Planning Board review.

In one instance, the Planning Board was only able to approve a special permit application for the planned renovation of 20-24 S. Main St. calling for commercial space on the ground floor level and approximately 14 apartments on the upper floors in July after developers secured letters from the city and the Fulton County Center of Regional Growth dedicating parking spaces to support the project at nearby properties.

In another instance, the Planning Board overrode minimum parking requirements in September to approve a site plan application for the renovation of the former Matty the Jeweler building at 13 N. Main St. seeking to convert the ground floor space into a gourmet coffee shop. City code regulations called for the provision of 40 off-street parking spaces to support the cafe. The property includes just four existing spaces.

City officials have pointed to the minimum parking requirements as overly restrictive and a hindrance to the revitalization of downtown by limiting the ability of developers to rehabilitate existing buildings and hampering efforts to make the city more pedestrian friendly.

The Common Council is additionally set to consider a pair of related ordinances on Tuesday that would allow for the administrative enforcement of existing city code requirements surrounding landscaping and visible refuse.

City code already requires lawns, hedges and bushes to be mowed, trimmed and otherwise kept from becoming overgrown. Lawns must be maintained at a height of less than nine inches. Additionally, the exterior portion of properties visible to the public must be kept free of refuse, trash, garbage, rubbish, debris and litter.

The ordinances if approved would establish a new chapter of city code allowing the city’s NQAs to enforce those provisions and expand the scope of the administrative appeals panel to hear and make determinations on appeals from residents cited under the new chapter for non-compliance.

Under the provisions, any property owner found in violation of the landscaping and visible refuse requirements would be subject to an administrative fine of $30 issued to the address on file with the city for tax billing purposes via first class mail. If the administrative fine is not paid within 65 days, the amount of the administrative fine will increase to $90. If not paid within 90 days, the administrative fine will be added to the property owner’s first subsequent city tax invoice.

The proposed ordinances follow ongoing efforts by officials to address issues surrounding blight across the city. Mayor Vincent DeSantis during the Sept. 22 Common Council meeting noted that the city currently can issue a notice to remedy instances of visible refuse that if not resolved within three days result in a $400 abatement fee, pointing to the administrative enforcement of violations as a more reasonable avenue to address issues.

The Common Council will conduct public hearings on each of the proposed ordinances during Tuesday’s meeting at 6 p.m. at City Hall before considering each piece of legislation for possible adoption.

By Patricia Older