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Code may be revised for food, bars in residential areas in Oneonta

Jan. 15—After a site plan application to open a coffee shop on a residential property was withdrawn, city of Oneonta officials are reviewing changes for the residential zoning districts that would clarify and expand the definitions of restaurants and neighborhood markets in the city code.

The Common Council is scheduled to discuss the proposed changes at its Tuesday, Jan. 16 meeting.

The code revisions, drafted by city Code Enforcement Officer Stephen Yerly, establish regulations for restaurants and neighborhood markets in any zoning district regarding secondary uses, hours of operation, parking and seating capacity, as well as make mandatory major site plan reviews and special use permits for restaurants and neighborhood markets in residential zones.

Bars and taverns would be removed as a permitted use in the R-4 zone — the traditional residential zone, according to the city zoning district map — although restaurant bars would be allowed.

By tying any bars to restaurants in the R-4 zone, it would prevent a homeowner from operating a bar out of the garage and calling it an accessory use.

"Garages may be accessory buildings," Yerly said in the draft, "but once they contain principal uses they no longer meet the definition."

In zoning language, a principal use is the primary use of a property, to which all other uses are accessory.

Yerly referenced the withdrawn application from Stagecoach Coffee in his draft, which would have operated in the R-2 zone, another residential zoning district.

He said that city codes states there can't be two principal use buildings in the R-2 zone. Neighborhood market, the designation Stagecoach applied for its coffee shop under, is a principal use in the R-2 zone.

"By locating a principal use in an accessory structure, you could argue that the accessory structure has now become an additional principal building," he said.

The council is expected to vote on a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) declaration for the Market Street transportation improvements project, determining that the project is Type II.

According to the resolution, the determination was made because the project involves replacement of a structure — the municipal parking garage — in kind and on the same site, and doesn't add any new roads, just repaves existing ones.

The city would not be required to conduct any further environmental review as a result of the Type II determination.

The council is also expected to accept a state grant for lead pipe removal.

The city was awarded up to $1.2 million in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Lead Service Line Replacement funding for its lead service line inventory project.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides $15 billion through the EPA's Drinking Water State Revolving Fund in the form of grants and loans to water systems for lead service line replacement.