Last night, Stewart's request for a zoning amendment was discussed by the Economic Development Committee, right after committee chair John Friedman (Third Ward) presented a revised draft of a proposed local law that would prohibit "formula retail use"--of which Stewart's is an example--throughout the city. The Stewart's Shop is currently a nonconforming use in a residential neighborhood, and that status prohibits any alteration or expansion of the operation. Stewart's is asking the City to adopt a retail overlay for the area, now zoned R-2, which would create a transitional zone of mixed commercial and residential and allow them to carry out their plan.
Friedman told the committee that it was the opinion of Andy Howard, counsel to the Common Council, that what was requested constituted spot zoning. When the request was being discussed in the Legal Committee, Howard more than once reminded the committee that the Stewart's Shop is now a nonconforming use, and a nonconforming use, by definition, means, "We don't want it to stay there." Steve Dunn, from the audience, expressed his opinion that the zoning amendment sought would not constitute spot zoning but would be "bad public policy."
Alluding to the fact that Stewart's proposal involves demolishing two houses, which currently contain a total of six apartments, Friedman commented, "With so much impassioned discourse about the shortage of affordable housing in Hudson, it is my sense that this is not something we should do." The two houses identified in March as needing to be demolished in the proposed expansion are 162 Green Street and 17-19 Fairview Avenue.
Committee member Rick Rector suggested that there should be a public hearing to gauge how the people living in that part of Hudson felt about the proposal, and it was decided that the committee would hold a public hearing at its next meeting, which will take place on July 20 at 6 p.m. at City Hall.
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