WALNUT RUN ESTATES Commission OKs change in neighborhood's zoning

The commission's recommendation now goes to city council.
CORTLAND -- About 50 residents of Walnut Run Estates burst into cheers as the city planning, zoning and building commission recommended a zoning change that would not allow smaller homes to be built in their neighborhood.
By a unanimous vote, the commission voted to recommend designating 61 acres of undeveloped land in the exclusive neighborhood as R-12, the same as the current 39 homes.
The final decision is up to city council.
The Walnut Run Land Co. had sought a different zoning designation, R-10, which would have allowed slightly smaller homes to be built on smaller lots.
"Just what we have is what we want," said resident Harry King.
Walnut Run and principal Hank Haynam initially requested a zone change to allow multifamily homes but changed its request last week after learning its plans could be pursued in an area zoned only for single-family homes, said Atty. Jim Scher, who represents the company.
Walnut Run plans to develop the area using a villa model, in which residents own their homes but an association owns and maintains the grounds, he said.
It is not clear how the zoning board's recommendation would effect those plans, Scher said.
"The developer will have to think about it," he added.
The area had been zoned service, which allows for uses like convenience stores and storage buildings, but Mayor Curt Moll said it was labeled for residential development in the city's long-term plans.
Scott Daffron, zoning commission chairman, invited Scher to consider altering Walnut Run's zoning request in light of residents' arguments. Scher said his client would prefer not to alter the request.
More homes
Under the zoning recommended by the commission, about 220 houses could be built on the 61 acres. The designation sought by Walnut Run would have allowed about 265 homes.
The minimum square footage of houses also is reduced from 1,400 square feet to 1,200 square feet.
At the public hearing Thursday, Walnut Run residents said they worried that allowing smaller houses in the neighborhood would hurt the value of their homes.
"We are looking for zoning to protect, not diminish, our investments," said resident Norm Cox.

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