On July 6, the Montgomery Village Board adopted Introductory Local Law 3 of 2021, which amends the zoning law and zoning map to further the village’s 2017 Comprehensive Plan Update.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, Bruce Kaufmann, of Mason Street, disagreed with the zoning changes made to Railroad Avenue.
“I believe that it should be kept in the same zone that it has been for quite some time,” he said. “I think there are better ways to develop that property rather than homes, apartments.”
Kaufmann added that the addition of apartments in that area would increase traffic. He noted that the structures would require additional water and sewer. This would present a problem because the village has reached its maximum water and sewer capacity, which has forced them to drill new wells.
Kaufmann proposed that the property’s location next to the railroad could make it a landing spot for something other than housing.
“There are some very talented people in this village that can do a lot of great things,” he said.
Other than the zoning changes that were made to Railroad Avenue, Kaufmann noted that he was overall pleased with the local law. However, he pleaded with the village board to hold off on adopting the local law so they could amend the zoning change to Railroad Avenue.
“Save my neighborhood, save my community,” Kaufmann said. “Let’s try to do better.”
Trustee Michael Hembury also believed that building more apartments on Railroad Avenue would not benefit the village. As a former landlord, he dealt with plenty of tenants who were irresponsible. He believes that homeowners are better suited to the Village of Montgomery.
“How does putting apartments there benefit the village?,” Hembury asked. “We have apartments all over here. The National Association of Realtors say your best neighbor is a homeowner.”
Kevin Conero, chairman of the Village of Montgomery Comprehensive Plan Committee, stated that under the new zoning ordinance, part of the parcel on Railroad Avenue would be home to duplex housing while the other would have mixed use properties that would house businesses on the bottom with apartments above them.
“It was a challenge to figure out what we are going to do with this,” Conero said. “I thought that it was a good proposal. The developer did come up with something and we looked at it and thought it was a good idea.”
Trustee Walt Lindner noted that when he and Conero first met with the developer of the property, he was planning to put three 35,000 square foot warehouses on Railroad Avenue. Knowing that many village residents are opposed to the construction of more warehouses, they were able to make a compromise that they believed will help the village as opposed to harming it.
Don Berger, one of the founders of citizens group Residents Protecting Montgomery, congratulated the village board as well the comprehensive plan committee for working collaboratively with residents in developing the changes.
“Moving forward, I think that’s the way we should be able to do it,” he said.