The zoning board of appeals, minus chairman Austin Zimmer, who was absent from Monday night’s meeting, has sent the village council an ordinance easing the process by which owners of non-conforming two-flats can make simple alterations to their property.

Village planning consultant Jo Ellen Charlton described the changes affecting certain non-conforming properties zoned R1 – a zone intended for single-family residences – as being made in the interest of fairness, offering more rights to owners of non-conforming two-flats, nearly as many as are enjoyed by owners of single-family homes.

The idea, Charlton said, is to simplify the process of making additions or improvements. If the new ordinance is passed, some property owners will be able to get swift approval for changes, using a one-step rather than the usual three-step process.  The ordinance, she said, would also make it easier to show lenders and insurers that proposed property improvements are accepted within their zoning limits.

The streamlined process would apply only to non-conforming two-flats zoned R1. Coach houses and three-flats aren’t part of the current proposals for zoning reform.

Resident Sharon Daly, whose property has both a two-flat and a coach house, was concerned about the language of the ordinance, wondering whether it signaled an expansion of “non-conforming use: and asking where the term “land” fits in.

Her neighbor, Lisa Haeger, asked whether the village could publish an explanation of the final version of the ordinance “that’s not so legalese.”

Village Administrator Tim Gillian replied, “Point well taken. Provided this board and council pass the ordinance, I will put out a fact sheet in absolute layman’s terms.”

Among other residents who commented at the hearing was Tim Wysocki, who said it took him nine and a half months to get approval to replace rotting wood on a coach house. “It’s odd and bizarre,” Wysocki said of the village’s current process for zoning relief.

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