More than six years after business owner Tom DeChiaro purchased in Mohegan Lake, he has received a zone change, which will allow him to operate without having to apply for a special use permit every three years.
Yorktown town board members unanimously approved the re-zoning request – from residential to transitional – Tuesday night.
"This is a perfect example of a public – private partnerships that we should encourage in the town," DeChiaro said. "It's vital for us to continue to have economic growth especially in the small business level. And this is an example, or at least a pilot, of how we could do this."
In addition, what generated the most discussion was DeChiaro's proposal to , which would also be used by the town for educational purposes. His plan called for using part of a town-owned parkland abutting his property for several parking spaces for his business. As part of the project residents would use the parking lot and be able to get to the town park.
Town board members agreed on Tuesday to allow DeChiaro to maintain the 12-space parking lot, but the town would remain the owner of the property. Currently there is no access to that parkland. The parking lot will not be paved, but rather it will be gravel.
"We have the opportunity to have a private investor make that public infrastructure improvement for us without an expense to us, so it's a bonus to us to have that happen," Yorktown supervisor Michael Grace said.
Some of the concerns residents had raised about the parking lot was extending it into the buffer of wetlands. The creation of the wetlands park will not occur on the wetlands, but rather on the buffer.
In a letter to the town board, dated June 5, the Yorktown Parks and Recreation Commission stated members had visited the wetlands site and would like to adopt a wetlands program to help take care of "the town's natural resources," starting with the wetlands located by the Winery.
"By developing this program, we add to the diverse Parks and Recreational facilities and encourage other communities to take our lead with the educational aspects of learning about wetlands and their functions. Our goal is to make this a collaborative effort by reaching out to community groups, private citizens, schools, business, scout troops, service clubs, and civic organizations," the letter read.
The Parks and Recreation commission commended DeChiaro for willing to clean up, protect and monitor a wetlands park that could provide educational services to the community. DeChiaro's other plans include making site improvements to the Winery property, which he calls the "gateway" to Mohegan Lake.
"I think everyone agrees that the church is a magnificent structure," Grace said of the old stone church, which has been given a historical status. "We want to see that preserved. In order to see that preserved and well kept you have to give some viable use to this property."