December 6, 2021

Byrne Dairy dispute

City, county disagree over proposed store, gas station

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

A plan to build a Byrne Dairy and gas station at the site of the former CNY Rentals on Port Watson Street in Cortland hit a snag when the Cortland County Planning Board voted against recommending its approval, citing — among other things — the proximity of similar businesses, such as Bill Brothers Dairy across the street.

A proposed Byrne Dairy convenience store and gas station on Port Watson Street in Cortland would need a supermajority of votes in the city planning commission, zoning board of appeals and Common Council if it is to be built, following disagreements between the county and the city.

The project calls for a 4,232-square-foot store with four gasoline pumps, according to planning documents. Additionally, the project proposes for three parcels to be consolidated into one and for one of those parcels to be rezoned from residential to general business.

The Cortland Planning Commission recommended approval of the project’s preliminary site plans on June 2 so long as contingencies were met, including:

  • The city weighed the benefits of the applicant in obtaining area variances versus the health, safety and welfare of the neighborhood.
  • That the rezoning of the parcel is in line with the city’s comprehensive plan recommendations for the area.
  • That any potential impact from the project — including light and odor emissions — are mitigated to the fullest extent.

However, the Cortland County Planning Department recommended denial of the project, citing reasons including several similar businesses in the area such as Bill Bros. Dairy and increased traffic, according to a June 16 resolution by the planning department.

Byrne Dairy gave a presentation Monday to the city planning commission, where the site plan was reviewed, commission Vice Chairman Jim Reeners said Thursday.

Reeners said Byrne Dairy could be in a tough position if it comes back to a later city planning board meeting having addressed the contingencies, but the county planning board still doesn’t back the project.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” he said.

A representative from Byrne Dairy could not be reached for comment Thursday.

The county can make recommendations, but cannot prevent the project from happening, said Dan Dineen, a planning adviser with the Cortland County Planning Department.

The city must have a supermajority approval when voting on the different aspects of the project. That would be one extra vote beyond majority on the city planning commission, zoning board of appeals and
Common Council, said Cortland Corporation Counsel Ric VanDonsel.

This would require five votes of approval in the city planning commission, five votes in the zoning board of appeals and six in the Common Council.

The proposed project is still in the early development phases as the developer is working on changes — such as placement of a walkway — and may come back to the city at a later date with a revised site plan, VanDonsel said.