In Aurora, New York, the town’s Planning and Conservation Board has recommended a size cap of 55,000 s.f. for a single-story or multistory retail building. The Town Board is slated to hold a public hearing on the issue on August 11th. The size limit applies only to retail and commercial development — not to industrial or office space. The Planning Board in Aurora voted 4-2 last week to ban retail buildings larger than 55,000 s.f. The original proposal was to cap the size at 45,000 s.f. Board meamber Alvin Fontanese was quoted in the local paper as saying “We’re not concerned about office space killing Main Street, but retail space killing Main Street.” The size cap issue was brought before the Board by a group called the Aurora Citizens for Smart Growth. Some town officials expressed concerns that the initial plan for a 45,000 s.f. cap was too low, because some existing retail was around that size. A Tops supermarket, for example, was recently approved and built at 55,000 s.f., but it was originally proposed as a 77,000 s.f. store. In studying the issue of size caps, the Planning Board created a subcommittee to investigate the issue. That subcommittee reported that other New York towns had already passed zoning ordinances limiting the size of retail buildings. Size limits are an established right of local zoning codes. The subcommittee report concluded: “Community character has been recognized by the courts in New York State as a legitimate and permissible governmental goal in enacting a zoning ordinance. The main purpose in establishing a size limitation on retail buildings would be the preservation of the rural and residential character of the Town of Aurora.”
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