ITHACA, NY – On Wednesday, Ithaca’s Common Council voted unanimously in favor of temporary zoning change that will give the council control over development on the city’s waterfront.

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The Temporary Mandatory Planned Unit Development, or TM-PUD, is a piece of legislation that would require any proposed development in the “Waterfront Study Area” to seek approval both from the city’s Planning Board as well as Common Council.

The goal is to ensure that any development meets the vision set forth in the city’s new comprehensive plan. The new comprehensive plan was approved just last year, the first revision to the plan in almost 45 years.

It’s been suggested that the TM-PUD might present a barrier to a proposed Maguire dealership in the area, as it doesn’t fit that vision.

The measure passed with little discussion.

“The Council will have to decide whether they agree with it or don’t agree with it. We’ll have to work it out with the Maguires to make the project conform to what the council and city wants,” City Planning Director JoAnn Cornish told the Voice in February.

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For the benefit of public as well Maguire’s legal counsel, who was in attendance, city attorney Ari Levine noted that municipalities have a number of options in regards to zoning following adoption of a new comprehensive plan.

Levine said that the city could choose anything from simply abiding by current zoning to declaring a complete moratorium on development until new zoning was established.

The TM-PUD, he said, represented a middle ground that would allow some development to proceed while still meeting the goals of the comprehensive

“The driving force behind this piece of legislation is to follow the comprehensive plan,” said Levine.

The Waterfront and West End are major targets for redevelopment in the 2015 plan. The plan outlines five specific goals for waterfront development:

  • Promoting mixed use development, including commercial and housing
  • Emphasizing waterfront activities
  • Reducing impacts of parking
  • Providing for additional employment opportunities
  • Promoting public access to the waterfront
  • Enhancing and preserving any environmentally sensitive areas

The TM-PUD ordinance will be in effect for the next 18 months.

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.