CORTLANDVILLE — Nancy Harmon was shoveling snow from the walk in front of her Halstead Road home Wednesday just a few dozen feet from Route 13 in Cortlandville.
Harmon, while taking a break from shoveling, said she dislikes the idea of rezoning the stretch of Route 13 from McLean Road to the Cortland city line to allow for the development of high volume businesses, including gas stations, shopping centers and hotels.
“We have gas stations up here,” she said, pointing in one direction along Route 13 near her home, “and down there,” pointing in the other.
The town is considering rezoning Route 13 from McLean Road to the city line to a B-3 from a B-2 zone. The new designation would, with a special permit, allow a gas station and convenience store, as well as other large-scale developments, such as shopping plazas and hotels. Now, the B-2 zone allows smaller business and residential development.
There is nothing on the town’s agenda for Wednesday night’s meeting yet about the proposed plan, nor has a public hearing been scheduled, town Supervisor Richard Tupper said this morning.
The neighborhood where Harmon lives includes middle- to upper-class housing and a couple of apartment complexes. Other nearby neighborhoods in the area include the Village Park apartment complex, a mobile home park at Route 13 and Starr Road and other homes off of Vernon Drive and Levydale Park. A planned unit development has been proposed on Starr Road near Route 13.
Harmon, who has lived at her Halstead Road home for 2 1/2 years, worries about increased traffic on Route 13. “It’s hard enough to get out now,” she said about leaving the neighborhood she lives in to get on Route 13.
Across Route 13 from Harmon at Hage Tailor Shop, Louisa Brown and her mother May Hage, who lives in part of the building, didn’t know a lot about the proposed rezoning. However, neither one opposed to the idea or the idea of a gas station filling the old Willcox tire site. “If it’s Byrne Dairy, fine,” Brown said.
Having a Byrne Dairy that close, within almost half a mile, would create a place where people could get gas and groceries in one stop, Hage said.
However, traffic would be a concern for both Brown and Hage. Hage said she would like to see a traffic light at Route 13 and Halstead Road, where she has seen accidents over the years.
At the Cortlandvillle Town Board meeting on March 7, six town residents spoke out against the rezoning during public comments.
Sixteen correspondences were also handed to the Town Board following the March 6 town planning board meeting, where the board voted to oppose the plan, which would allow gas stations to be developed over the town’s sole-source aquifer with a special permit.
Supervisor Richard Tupper had said that while the opponents of the zoning change feel it is over one applicant, the board is actually looking at the zoning for growth.
Soybyrne Sales Inc., which runs Byrne stores and gas stations, requested approval to build a gas station and store at the former Willcox Tire site within the zone.
Businesses allowed in B-2 zones include retail stores, bakeries, drug stores, dry cleaners, banks, restaurants, indoor theaters, animal shelters, veterinary clinics and automobile dealerships. A B-3 zone, such as routes 13 and 281, also allows high-volume businesses, including shopping centers and hotels.
The town had previously considered opening B-2 and B-3 districts to gas station development. Proposed legislation drafted by Town Attorney John Folmer and submitted to the Town Board in October 2015 would redefine “gasoline stations” and “filling stations” as “retail petroleum sales facilities.” The board has since abandoned that proposal.