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New site plan and subdivision law proposed

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HAMMOND – The Planning Board presented its proposed site plan and subdivision law to the Town Council Tuesday.

The law, which has not been updated since the 1990s, aims to give the Planning Board more control over property changes in the town and village, Chairperson Ronald R. Papke said.

“Under the old law, there were opportunities that allowed people to avoid site plan and review,” Mr. Papke said. “Now, anytime there is change in the use of a property, those changes have to go through a site plan and review with the Planning Board.”

There are exceptions, however. For instance, property owners who want to convert a residence from a one to two-family dwelling, Mr. Papke said.

Under the current law, property owners can change property lines without approval from the board.

“Under the new law, any changes to property lines must be approved by the town,” Mr. Papke said. “We want to try to preserve the viable property of the town without creating landlocked lots.”

With the town’s permission, the Planning Board will also be able to levy fines against unapproved junkyards, salvage yards and landfills.

If the law is approved, the Planning Board could decrease from nine to seven members, with the option of appointing one alternate board member. Terms of service could also be extended from five to seven years.

“This could be changed by the Town Council,” Mr. Papke. “These are just options we have proposed.”

Under the proposed law, two Planning Board appointees from the village and one active farmer will no longer be required, but preferred.

“This is not meant to restrict the number of village-represented Planning Board members,” Mr. Papke said. “Rather, if the village board wasn’t able to find two people in the village, they could reach out to someone else in the town.”

Overall, Mr. Papke said the proposed law will not overreach the Planning Board’s current role in property development in the town and village.

“The site plan and review does not make a determination whether we like the idea or not,” Mr. Papke said. “There is nothing that prohibits anything from happening. What the Planning Board does and what this law does is it controls how it happens.”

In past years, little, if any, plans have been denied, Mr. Papke added.

“There has never been a site plan request that has been denied, but what they do is approve it with modifications and changes. At the end of the day, if someone wants to build a convenience store, and they are in compliance with the state and county rules, the Planning Board’s main goal will be to make sure the plan is compatible with the community as much as possible.”

The law will be discussed and reviewed by the Town Council at its next meeting on April 9, Mr. Bertram said.

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