ReZone

April 27th, 2018

The following letter was submitted to the city in response to the proposed ReZone project.

UNPA finds many of the proposed changes to be consistent with our goals for perpetuating a dynamic, diverse and inclusive neighborhood on the City’s east side. In particular, we support the emphasis placed on promoting pedestrian-friendly and transit-oriented development, increasing awareness of, and providing measures for, high quality physical environments, and emphasizing density consistent with urban communities. We also appreciate the new format and organization of the document, particularly the illustrations and charts.  However, we are concerned about three specific recommendations.

The proposed MX-1 district along Euclid Avenue from Comstock Avenue to Westcott Street will encourage development that will change both use of structures and character of the corridor. Even with the proposed design standards, allowing the introduction of business/commercial uses will place more pressure on the already fragile nature of this corridor.  In addition, our neighborhood is uniquely aware of the challenges inherent in converting former single-family houses back to their original purpose; houses modified for commercial uses that may subsequently fail may be impossible to return to residential use. Lastly, there is no historic or current indicators to suggest a market for businesses in this location, which is understandable given the close proximity of the Westcott Street business district, and the more distant but equally accessible Marshall Street area.  Allowing such development along the length of Euclid Avenue will unnecessarily divert attention and investment away from the neighborhood’s existing commercial centers.  For these reasons, we strongly suggest the MX-1 designation be removed from Euclid Avenue. The proposed plan lacks specificity of design standards as written.  By eliminating  MX-1 along Euclid, there is less of an obstruction to the shared values of pedestrian-friendly and multi-modal transit-oriented design of what will soon become a complete street. Syracuse University’s stated Campus Framework, which do not involve Euclid, should also be taken into consideration when planning the neighborhood’s growth.

The proposed MX-2 district along Westcott Street from Dell Street to Euclid Avenue will allow new construction inconsistent with current use and character.  Because the proposed zoning would allow new buildings up to 5 stories with 90% lot coverage, the suggested design standards notwithstanding, such commercial development would be detrimental to contiguous residential properties and inconsistent with neighborhood character. Therefore, we recommend the existing Westcott business district should be classified as MX-2. A MX-1 designation might be extended north to Genesee Street and to Euclid Avenue.

We do not believe that existing commercial and retail districts are experiencing such pressure that an opening up of such similar development, by way of MX-1 expansion down the entirety of Euclid, will actually benefit the neighborhood, existing business districts, or new business development.

Finally, we are confused as to why “family” continues to be defined as “…5 unrelated persons 18 years of age or older,” while many New York State communities define “family” as no more than 3 such individuals as a family.  This lower limit would better reflect, and have less negative impact on, the neighborhood when single- and two-family dwellings are converted from owner-occupancy to student rentals.  More specifically, the lower limit would be more consistent with, and respective of, existing neighborhood buildings, lot sizes and block-street organization.  Consideration should be given to changing this definition accordingly.