Cortlandville Z-B-A Rejects Car Dealer Request to Add More Blacktop
Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Cortlandville Z-B-A Rejects Car Dealer Request to Add More Blacktop
A proposal to increase the amount of blacktop at a car lot on Route 281 in Cortlandville has been rejected by the town’s zoning board of appeals.

Citing concerns of increased storm water run-off and negative impacts on water quality both in the Town and the City of Cortland, the Cortlandville Zoning Board of Appeals has rejected a request by the owners of the Sun Auto Warehouse to increase the amount of impervious surface at the over 5 acre car lot located near the intersection of Rt. 281 and Luker Road.
The owner was looking to add additional black top so the business could display another 167 vehicles on the site.
Z-B-A members pointed out that the proposal would decrease the amount of green space on the site from 46% to 23%.

The site is located in the town’s highly restrictive wellhead protection district which was enacted back in 2008 in an effort to protect the sole source aquifer that runs under the Rt. 281 corridor and provides drinking water to the Town and City of Cortland.
Under the requirements of the well head protection district properties in that area are supposed to have 50% green space, the idea is that the unpaved area allows water to filter back into the aquifer and replenish the water supply. The district also includes strict storm water management rules to protect the water quality in that portion of the town.
Under the town’s zoning law when property’s in the wellhead protection zone are redeveloped or modified they are supposed to reduce the amount of impervious surf ace by 5 percent, not increase it.
Sun Auto’s Attorney Mike Schaffer argued that the car lot has been in existence for nearly 50 years, and compared the request for more blacktop by the auto dealership to a retail store adding additional shelf space, which is critical to the store’s success.
Shaffer pointed out that while the town has recognized the environmental sensitivity of the wellhead area, the town has continued to allow development and will continue to grapple with these variances.
ZBA member David Alexander said that the auto dealer did not clearly illustrate why the ZBA should compromise the wellhead protection district. Alexander says the board is not trying to chase business away but was trying to strike a balance between business growth while protecting a critical resource.
Shaffer said his client may look to revise the proposal including reducing the amount of paving, but he did not rule out the possibility of a lawsuit to overturn the ZBA’s decision.
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