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ReZone Syracuse Plan Open For Public Comment

Chris Bolt/WAER News

Do you want to have a say in how downtown Syracuse is growing? …or how your neighborhood can stay quiet?  …or the look and size of buildings going up?  Syracuse has its ReZone Plan ready for public comment at a meeting Monday night.  One area of focus for Assistant Director of City Planning Owen Kerney was the neighborhood business corridors, such as James Street, Westcott or Tipp Hill.

“That relatively delicate balance between those neighborhood businesses and the people who live behind them is something we have looked at in our design standards: how lighting spills over in residential areas can adversely affect them and restricting that; thinking about where they keep their trash or their dumpsters; thinking about parking, having cars coming and going next to your kitchen window. And so developing design standards that help mitigate and regulate that in a way that can help to continue facilitate business development, but also begin to protect our neighborhoods.”    

A public meeting Monday night will allow people to review the plan and ask questions.

The updated zoning proposal includes land use – where business, residential, or mixed use districts are.  Assistant Zoning Director Heather Lamendola says the new document is also much clearer than one they’re updating.

“You want to build this building, this is the zoning district. They look at a chart, they go down the table, and they say, ‘Okay, retail on the ground floor and twelve apartments above. How high can it be? How big can it be? Where does it have to be placed on the piece of property? What does it have to look like? And what are the setbacks that I have to follow?’”

Lamendola says parts of the old law are 100 years old.  So things like a blacksmith shop are covered, while micro-breweries and other modern uses are not.  She says there are a lot more details to follow, including the processes for zoning approvals for anything from a new fence to a multi-story building.

Credit Chris Bolt/WAER News
New zoning plan could help local business districts.

“Right now, even though we know internally, it’s not clear to the outsiders. So I think by having all of these elements, this zoning ordinance is going to appeal to all kinds of different groups – design professionals, not-for-profits, residents, entrepreneurs – anyone who wants to invest in and maintain their property in the city.”  

Kerney agrees, he wants the ReZone plan to be user-friendly – while supporting the city’s comprehensive plan adopted in 2014.

“Where do we see greater density? Where do we want to enhance our business corridors? What residential areas need attentions? What environmental issues need to be dealt with? So taking a comprehensive look at the city, looking at the future and where we are and where we want to go was part of our planning process, and the zoning project is how that all gets implemented.”

Full interview with Assistant Director of City Planning Owen Kerney and Assistant Zoning Director Heather Lamendola. They discuss the ReZone Syracuse project and how it will impact the development of both residential and business districts.

A public meeting Monday night will allow people to review the plan and ask questions.  Kerney adds there will also be numerous other chances for public input.  The Common Council eventually has to pass the plan … likely this fall.  Monday’s meeting is at City Hall Commons starting at 6:30 pm.  The proposal is online at

Chris Bolt, Ed.D. has proudly been covering the Central New York community and mentoring students for more than 30 years. His career in public media started as a student volunteer, then as a reporter/producer. He has been the news director for WAER since 1995. Dedicated to keeping local news coverage alive, Chris also has a passion for education, having trained, mentored and provided a platform for growth to more than a thousand students. Career highlights include having work appear on NPR, CBS, ABC and other news networks, winning numerous local and state journalism awards.