Rezoning Controversy

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William Locy moved outside the village and into the town of Canton several years ago. He enjoys the serene outdoors, despite being in a commercially zoned district.

But a controversial rezoning plan involving nearly 4,500 acres of property along several town roads that changes zoning districts from 'rural' to 'residential', 'commercial', and 'business' is coming under fire from property owners ike Locy, who are concerned about how the affected land could be used.

"Me and my neighbors, we're standing our ground because we want to keep it just the way it is," Locy said.

But for some property owners, it comes down to more than just a matter of principle.

The local planning board has forwarded the rezoning plan to the town board for action, but there may be conflicts of interest.

Town Supervisor David Button and two other town board members, Paul Backus and Jim Smith, either own property in parts of the areas to be rezoned or adjacent to the land in question.

They could potentially benefit financially, depending on if, or how, the land is developed should the new zoning districts be approved by the town board.

"The three town board members who own property in the areas that might be impacted - the proposed rezoning would make it more restrictive for them to do things," Button said.

"If it opened things up and allowed them to do more things, then possibly," he added.

Button and his wife own several acres along the Hale and Pike Roads, included in the proposed rezoning impact area, where the couple already has "For Sale" signs posted.

It is not known whether the three board members will recuse themselves once the proposed zoning changes go before a public hearing and come up for a vote.

The town board meets Monday at 4 p.m. in the Municipal Building, and could face a firestorm of opposition from concerned property owners.

Sunday, December 21, 2014
, Watertown, NY

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