Watertown lawmakers approve new zoning, more firefighters

Watertown lawmakers approve new zoning, more firefighters
Published: Feb. 22, 2023 at 6:07 AM EST
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - The city of Watertown has a new zoning ordinance.

The city council adopted the new ordinance by a 3-2 vote Tuesday night.

Council members Patrick Hickey, Cliff Olney, and Lisa Ruggiero voted for it. Mayor Jeff Smith and council member Sarah Compo Pierce voted against it.

The new zoning allows mixed residential areas — meaning single-family homes and multifamily homes, like duplexes, can be found side by side. That’s not the case right now.

Also, some people don’t agree with a stipulation in the ordinance that requires owners to occupy one of the units if an accessory unit is added. They say it’s not convenient for property owners who live outside the area.

“That’s a stipulation that I’m highly against,” property owner Bill Bonner said. “I have two properties in town, one that is a double lot, so essentially a house, a vacant lot, and a house next door, and I’ve always wanted to put something on that lot.”

The zoning committee says it would still take some steps for someone to want to change their home into a duplex or add an accessory unit.

Meanwhile, the city will hire four more firefighters, boosting the ranks and getting ready for a couple of retirements this year.

The vote was 3-2, with the “no” votes from Smith and Compo Pierce.

Fire Chief Matt Timerman says the extra hires will save the city on overtime costs and will help boost morale in the fire stations.