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Proposed Local Parking Law For Plattsburgh Criticized

Plattsburgh City Council listens to public comment during hearing on proposed Local Law P-4 of 2021
Pat Bradley/WAMC
Plattsburgh City Council listens to public comment during hearing on proposed Local Law P-4 of 2021

The Plattsburgh Common Council recently held a public hearing on a proposed local law that would make changes to off- street parking requirements in the city.  Most of those who commented were zoning board members who slammed the proposal.
Proposed Local Law P-4 of 2021 would amend Plattsburgh’s zoning code to state “Parcels of real property within the City of Plattsburgh shall not be required to establish a minimum number of off-street parking spaces.”  It removes section 26 regarding off-street parking and loading regulations; section 21, which includes minimum lot size requirements, and section 29, pertaining to residential and commercial conversions.

Public comments on the proposed revisions predominantly came from members of the zoning board. Chair Ron Nolland told councilors he assumed their intentions were sincere but no relevant boards were notified about the proposed local law.   “Nobody said a word to us. I didn’t even know it was a consideration. And the other thing is that we have right now another committee that’s rewriting the comprehensive plan, that’s rewriting the zoning code. What about that? Why are we doing this all of sudden, slamming this through when in fact there is this whole process in committee with many involved community members working to change the code?”

Scott DeMane has been on the zoning board for about nine years. He says an intent of the proposed law is to encourage people to use public transit, but says that won’t work.  “We do not have an adequate public transit system here. So this is kind of putting the cart before the horse. I have not seen any research on this. Is there a city in the state of New York that has no requirement for parking and how is it working? Has anyone researched that? The other thing this P-4 2021 and also P-4 2020 seem to be eroding the total function of the zoning and planning boards. And if that’s the intent then go ahead and just disband those boards. You’re taking all the power away that we have Instituted to us.”

City resident and businessman David Merkel found out about the proposal in that day’s newspaper and felt action should be delayed.  “I’m not sure why this action has to be taken now especially when there is a comprehensive review in process and to me that would be the place to handle something like this. I respectfully request that you table this item.”

During the council’s regular meeting, deliberation was held on a proposal to authorize preparation of an environmental assessment form and submit a referral packet to the Clinton County Planning Department on the proposed law.  Ward 1 Independent Jamie Canales moved to table the item.  City attorney Dean Schneller explained that passage of the item allows a review process to move forward.  “This is just a motion to refer the matter up to the county planning department which is required because of the potential amendment of a local law. We need to refer those to the county so that they can review it. They could comment or act within 30 days. So basically it’s a precursor to taking any further subsequent action.”  

Ward 5 Democrat Patrick McFarlin was attending his last meeting as a councilor before stepping down to move to the Capital Region. He sponsored the proposal and said the local law had been in the works for nearly two years.  “It won’t finish today no matter what we do. We knew it was going to the county planning board when it was first proposed or even a long time before it was first proposed. So I don’t think it’s been pushed at all.”

Canales then withdrew his motion to table. The measure carried unanimously with McFarlin abstaining.


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