Village of East Aurora
REGIONAL COMPREHENSIVE PLAN NOTES
Plan Prepared by Wendel Duchscherer Architects & Engineers
- Preserve traditional neighborhood character of the Village
- Properly manage future growth and development
- Encourage investment and economic development
- Provide a safe and efficient transportation network
Expanded EA Goals & Objectives
- recognize that the unique character of the Village is an important asset to the region that should be supported and preserved
- promote streetscape and roadway improvements to further enhance the aesthetics and pedestrian-oriented character of the business district
- provide adequate, safe parking in and around the central business district
- provide sidewalks and pathway connections to and between parks and community facilities, including the High School
- properly plan for the additional traffic from the Knox State Park and the growth of the Village as a cultural hub to minimize impacts to the Village
Most recent efforts for region (in terms of any type of comprehensive plan or study):
- Aurora, Wales and EA had Comprehensive Plans prepared under the Urban Planning Assistance Program of the US Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (prepared in 1970 but never adopted in Wales and EA) (Aurora - prepared in 1980-Basic Studies, and 1981-Comp Plan and Implementation Plan).
Existing Conditions in Communities
- Elma, EA and Aurora would be considered second ring suburban communities (transition between first ring of suburbs and rural), and Wales and Holland rural communities.
- Village is "close to being fully developed"
Summarized Needs/Desires of East Aurora
- improve traffic and circulation problems in areas within Village
- maintain village as a desirable place to live, work and shop
- the appearance (aesthetics) of Village must be preserved and protected
- pedestrian and bicycle access throughout village is very important
- protect, promote and revitalize uptown Main Street business district.
Zoning Issues in Communities
- EA: use creative zoning techniques to control redevelopment and changes in the community. Recent discussions and actions would indicate that the Village prefers smaller, architecturally acceptable business uses in most of the community. Traffic problems are problematic during peak hour travel periods that bring a lot of pass through traffic to the area, also seasonal in nature, with higher volumes experienced during the summer months.
Preserving Community Character: EA Recommendations
- promote walking and preservation of the pedestrian friendly atmosphere throughout the Village. Issue is closely linked with the community character of the Village.
- adopt architectural design standards and historic preservation standards, make sure development or redevelopment is designed in harmony with character of community.
- adopt landscaping standards to help improve the look and quality of commercial and industrial development and redevelopment in village. These standards should be referenced in the zoning text, and apply to all commercial and industrial development requiring village approvals.
- develop community gateways at the major entryways to the Village (see vision plan and streetscape plan)
- manage growth and properly plan highway projects to avoid roadway widening that could result in loss of street trees and roadside foliage.
- properly manage tourism to aid the local economy but at the same time preserve the character of the Village as a community. Focus tourism in cultural center/business support area. Plan for possible needs of a new public parking facility.
- with Rte 20A improvement project (working with NYSDOT), project must accommodate bicycle and pedestrian access to the maximum extent possible. Also consider parking needs of the area, and the need for a downtown pace of traffic. Village should complement this plan by ensuring that proper pedestrian and bicycle access points from the surrounding neighborhoods tie into Main St and its improvements.
- investigate management access issues in the downtown (West End) business district. Traffic circle represents an excellent means of traffic calming and this combined with a good access management plan will help to properly manage traffic.
- road widening or by-pass projects should not be considered to solve traffic congestion problems, because they would create too many other problems
- preserve and diversify housing stock and control amount of multi-family housing that is development in village to maintain the quality of the urban environment.
- strive to maintain a mix of uses in the business district areas to contribute to the prosperity and social and economic environment of the area. However, uses permitted in these areas should be evaluated to avoid creating a competitive atmosphere between the Uptown and Downtown retail areas in the Village.
- implement streetscape improvements along Main St. in the business district (see streetscape plan) to improve the aesthetic quality of the area and enhance the social interaction in this area (continue the enforcement of the Tree Preservation Law in the Mid-Main area and consider expanding to other areas).
Management of Future Growth and Development: EA Recommendations
- examine the business district to amend the code to match the established vision.
* In Uptown/traditional Main St area, redevelopment of existing structures with minimal demolition should be stressed.
* In cultural center/business support area (centered around Roycroft campus), building design & appearance should complement, not match, Roycroft elements.
* In Village commercial support area (transition between cultural/business support area and downtown/west end business district), this mixed-use area should provide connectivity to the surrounding areas and the Village. Architecture, parking lots, signage should be consistent with Village character and atmosphere.
* In downtown district, regulations should guide new development and redevelopment to ensure development in this area is compatible with the character of the Village and surrounding area. See that commercial and retail uses in this area are balanced with the Uptown district to avoid competition, and adverse impacts (such as traffic) are adequately assessed.
- all districts along Main St must address the streetscape issues shown in Village's streetscape plan.
- overlay zoning districts could also be created for these districts to add another dimension of requirements for each specific area.
- work closely with NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in determining the final usage of the property and site access, and potential traffic patterns
- gateways to the village should be created at the major entrances to the village
- full traffic study and parking/circulation plan will be needed to evaluate conditions within the entire village and where improvements could be made
- additional parking will most probably be needed in the "Cultural Center/Business Support District" and "Uptown/Traditional Main St. Business District." Continue investigations into locating an area for a parking lot (possible area around railroad tracks to service both areas).
- continue to work with NYSDOT on Main St reconstruction project.
- walkability of Central Business District and its connections to surrounding residential areas needs to be a high priority. Traffic from within the village should be minimized.
- do not focus just on tourism for "Cultural Center/Business Support District" area. It should also continue to support local needs. Small area should be set aside for overnight accommodations. Presently the village has a proposal for a hotel, if it is approved, the village should limit the location of additional hotels/motels. Could also target bed and breakfast facilities.
- as Commerce Green continues to fill, cooperative efforts with the town should be explored to expand this area into the town.
- traffic circle should be kept and improved upon
- a bypass for traffic could be harmful to the businesses. Making Rte 20A/Rte 400 a full-service interchange would reduce some traffic, including trucks, from this area. But fears that this would cause development pressure in Aurora and Wales. Plan recommends long-term objective be that the interchange be made full access.
- multi-family, senior type housing is needed within the Village and should be considered for the Buffalo St. and Main St. areas. Use of in-law apartments and other multi-use options within existing structures.
Economic Development: EA Recommendations
- preserve differentiation between distinct areas in Village Main Street business district.
- encourage reuse of structures in eastern end of Village. Businesses should consider adjusting their business operations to take advantage of tourism market (i.e. adjusting hours of operation)
- new structures along Uptown Main St should be compatible with existing businesses in size, scale and setback.
- big box development is not appropriate for west end of Main, and new development must be consistent in size and scale with surrounding uses; subject to careful site review, examining issues like parking, accommodation of pedestrians and siting of buildings to minimize car-pedestrian conflicts and traffic impacts.
- discourage new businesses in West End that would compete with Uptown Main St smaller businesses. Most likely location for large retail centers would be outside village limits along Olean Rd (Rte 16) and possibly Rte 20A
- work with Aurora to ensure that development outside village does not undermine redevelopment efforts in village; need to work together because village is a part of the town and contributes to its tax base.
- a certain level of congestion is a sign of a healthy retail district. Projects and policies designed to encourage walking and biking in the village will help alleviate traffic congestion and parking problems. Village has opportunity to address this issue with proposed streetscape improvements accompanying the upcoming NY State Department Of Transportation Main St Reconstruction project.
- transportation studies for traffic circle and west end of 20A to look at traffic patterns, turning motions and possible solutions.
- follow streetscape plan to greatest degree feasible. Project will help mitigate traffic conditions, support economy and tourism development in village
- don't let tourism grow to a capacity that the village cannot support or sustain
- economic efforts within village should target retail and commercial development. Industrial development efforts should focus primarily on success and potential expansion of existing industries in village such as Fisher Price, Commerce Green. For older industrial sites, it may be difficult to find new industrial users when existing tenants vacate buildings. In many cases, redevelopment to non-industrial use may be a preferred option, particularly in areas close to the retail core.
Recreational Opportunities: Aurora and East Aurora Recommendations
- (problems with capacity, especially Hamlin Park and Town Pool; demand for more sports facilities) (maintain Majors property for passive recreation)
- prepare an Open Space/Recreation plan to identify appropriate lands for future recreational use and/or environmental conservation; address demographic trends to accommodate needs of residents (youth and elderly)
- demand for a more extensive trail system; connect population centers of Village with outlying facilities (High School); improve utility easements and roadway shoulders in Village to enhance opportunities for hiking and biking.
- examine recreational needs and facilities for youth particularly in West Falls
- cooperate with School District; encourage School District to evaluate potential for developing recreational facilities on vacant property adjacent to Parkdale Elementary
- increased points of access along Cazenovia Creek corridor
- revitalize Emery Park. Suffers from lack of maintenance. Support for the reestablishment of the Emery Inn for some type of small commercial activities (catering, conferences, restaurant, lodge, etc)
- use of old railroad line in Town for a rails-to-trails project (coordinate with surrounding communities, County and State)
- accurately assess impact of Knox State Park on village and town. Work to make sure the park master plan is responsive to demand for local recreational activities (ball fields, trails, picnic space, etc)
- new residential development should include some provision for increased recreational demand. Where feasible, land should be provided within the development for recreational use.
Community Vision: EA Vision Components
- (major features: influences of surrounding towns, more densely development urban (built-out) nature of village, functioning of area as a center of regional commerce, Rte 20A (Main St), concentration of public services and civic/cultural land uses)
- most of village is "village residential" and will experience little or no change over next 15-20 years.
- area in southeast section (estate/large lot residential): preserve low density, possibly through new zoning classification or zoning overlay district, would preserve and limit subdivision activity in area
- uptown business district: protect for historical significance and as gateway into village, higher standards for redevelopment
- one major industrial area: Fisher Price (protect as important element of community character)
- two areas of transition:
* office/small business district along railroad corridor south of Uptown business district. Changing into area of small businesses and offices with lack of retail spaces. (ex: use of former school building as an office building)
* Commerce Green business park: last vacant land available for light industrial and office development
* both can be employment centers that bring people to village center
- different Main St areas:
1. Downtown (West End) Suburban Business District: should have design standards more in line with character of surrounding village because it is a gateway to the Village. Challenge: keep area in image of village and draw people from area into other parts of Main St and surrounding community, particularly without over reliance on motor vehicles
2. Village Commercial Support District: important to keep aesthetics consistent with character of village, allowing for a visual connection with other areas along Main St
3. Cultural Center/Business Support District: although it is focused on tourism, should continue to serve Village community. Connections to surrounding areas, especially Uptown business district, are crucial. Preserve area as cultural center of community and capitalize on in this regard
4. Uptown/Traditional Main St Business District: preserve character of area through appropriate design standards, establish standards with sufficient public input to ensure the area is designed in a manner that portrays the desires of the community. Surrounding area also is vital to district for support to downtown (parking, patrons, complementary support uses). Recognize and protect the relationship between the two areas.
- investigate a system of on-street trails. Focus on making it easier and more convenient to move around area w/o car. Trails that link internal features and components in village as well as Village with adjoining town are vital. In long run, means of utilizing existing railroad corridor as a multi-purpose trail should also be considered.
- maintain and establish buffer along Cazenovia Creek for streambank protection, wildlife habitat and travel, and public access.
Implementation: General Section
- first step is to designate an Advisory Committee as entity(s) responsible for implementation of document; establish biannual review to determine progress and continue to review and update plan
- Priority 1 Actions: should be completed first and are anticipated to take place in first two years after adoption
- Priority 2 Actions: can take place after a particular priority 1 action takes place or as the community desires in the years 1-5 after plan adoption.
- Priority 3 Actions: either long-term actions (those that may or may not be necessary depending on future scenarios, or are alternative ideas for certain priority 1 or 2 actions (that may not achieve desired results). Considered "Tool Box" actions
- Priority 1: adopt plan and advisory committee; establish annual budget for implementation of Regional Comprehensive Plan
* zoning issues: examine business zoning districts for Downtown and Uptown areas,
specifically the allowable uses to eliminate potential for competition between these
areas. Examine zoning uses in other areas, to ensure objectives of these areas can be
- amend zoning requirements, where required, to ensure proper setback and bulk
requirements (size/scale) for Main St districts to achieve objectives of Vision Plan;
- consider allowing residential conversions, by special permit only, in R (single-
family) Residential zoning district (this would allow for further diversification of
housing stock and address the issue of legal in-law apartments/need for senior
- Consider B&B uses, by special use permit, along certain parts of Main St. that are presently only permitted in R districts
* other codes and regulations: adopt landscaping standards to improve appearance
and quality of commercial and industrial development and redevelopment in village.
Standards could be referenced in zoning ordinance or set up as a separate section of
- adopt architectural review and historic preservation standards to require developers to design development and redevelopment that is consistent with character of village;
* cooperative efforts: work closely with Aurora to plan consistently for border areas
and to ensure that commercial development in Town does not adversely
impact/compete with business districts in Village;
- work with Town to address expansion of light industrial and other uses beyond Commerce Green and into town;
- continue cooperative planning with State Parks on Knox Park facility (including Aurora and Elma);
- work cooperatively with NY State Department Of Transportation and County to properly plan highway improvements to avoid unnecessary street widening and resulting loss of street trees and roadside vegetation;
- work closely with NY State Department Of Transportation and Aurora to manage traffic and address problem areas on State highways through area;
- work with State to design access management strategy for Village which addresses issues of driveway separations and conflicts, turning movements, new traffic control devices, signal timing, etc and also studies in area of vicinity of traffic circle;
* other actions: undertake a streetscape project for Main St. continue to pursue
funding for action;
- in support of tourism and as a means of mitigating traffic impacts associated with increased tourism, plan for additional and more efficient municipal parking, particularly in Uptown area of village;
- adapt use of former industrial buildings in business district for commercial and other appropriate, non-industrial uses;
- study parking needs in Uptown and Downtown areas to development a plan for addressing current and future needs (could be coupled with larger transportation study that is recommended)
- Priority 2 (years 3-5): complete comprehensive plan annual report and note Priority 1 options that have not been completed. Target and reprioritize those actions. Assess any subdivision and site plan activity that occurred in previous years to make sure it is compliant with Regional Comprehensive Plan. Evaluate impact of Priority 1 implementation items that were completed. Recommend Prior 2 items to be completed in upcoming year; establish annual budget for Regional Comprehensive Plan
* zoning issues: develop zoning overlay districts for particular use areas along Main
St to address aesthetic, architecture, landscaping, access, setback, preservation and
other issues prevalent to the area);
- consider establishing an estate-residential district for southeast portion of village (to maintain larger lots and homes)
* cooperative efforts: research possible sewer extensions around village, Begin
dialogue with Town;
- begin discussion with town about companion industrial park development adjoining Commerce Green (concurrent with sewer extension work);
- regional farmland protection plan should be considered, communities should evaluate business support issues including tax incentives, financing packages and economic development grants, plan will ensure farms are treated as businesses and that they get support like businesses in the community;
- consider regional open space/corridor protection plan;
- form regional tourism committee (help better coordinate actions of legislative boards);
- complete regional coordination/access management traffic study;
- work with County, State, GBNRTC (MPO) in accommodating pedestrian and bicycle access;
- explore increased public transportation or creative alternative modes of transport connections to downtown Buffalo;
- pursue regional wetlands regulations with other communities to regulate non jurisdictional wetlands no longer regulated by Army Corps of Engineers;
- investigate through joint committee ability to connect regional features through trail system;
+ all actions require strong board leadership. Once actions to be taken are determined, assignments can be made to Boards, Committees or groups. Work with appropriate agencies and/or consultants; work with State and Fed reps to research possible grant programs for septic system improvements
+ costs to County for implementation of components: unknown
+ costs to Village for consultant: 5K-10K
* other actions: develop community gateways at major entryways into village;
- continue to research parking in Uptown and Downtown areas;
develop economic strategy for marketing Commerce Green in attempt to expand light industrial and office uses in EA
+ many of these tasks will require assistance of County and/or consultant
- Priority 3: provide sewer extensions in areas around town to accommodate denser
- add poor soil condition requirements similar to town of Elma to require increased lot
sizes in areas of poor "percolation" (lots up to 5 acres);
- greater coordination between businesses and school system to ensure availability of
local labor pool;
- zoning changes in area of Rte 20A near 400 interchange to accommodate light
- consider reconstructing Rte 400 interchange at Rte 20A (full service access);
- protect railroad corridor from unacceptable uses and lobby to maintain service
corridor commuter usage and possibilities of inter-modal transport;
- work with other communities to develop regional recreational facility such as pool,
skating rink, etc;
- consider acting with surrounding communities in designating important stream
corridors as Critical Environmental areas (CEAs);
- improve designated road shoulders to accommodate pedestrians and bicycles;
- create and improve points of access along Cazenovia Creek for scenic viewing and
- consider usage of abandoned railroad line in southwest portion of Town for Rails-to-
- pursue joint efforts to address issues that affect regions by pooling resources, filing
joint grant applications for funding, undertaking mutual studies, establish joint
7.0 - Environmental Review
- EA population growth numbers:
+ population has remained stable between 1990 and 2000. Because village is primarily "built-out," projections suggest modest if any growth
+ rate of residential construction has been modest. Building permit rates have averaged about 8 single-family units per year. Apartment dwelling units have exceeded single-family development; 96 apartment units were permitted between 1990 and 1999, average of 10 per year.
GLOSSARY OF TERMS USED IN REGIONAL COMPREHENSIVE PLAN
Aquifier - an underground source of water that lies within or between water bearing layers of permeable rock, sand or gravel.
Agricultural Preservation - a variety of techniques employed to help support farming as an economic activity and farmland as a land use.
Central Business District - the area of the Village or a hamlet, consisting of retail, commercial, institutional and public service establishments, that functions as the primary location for commerce
Clustered Development - Clustered Development is a design technique for development projects that concentrates residential buildings in specific areas on a site to allow the remaining land to be set aside for recreation, common open space or environmental preservation. This is done by allowing housing to be constructed on smaller lots as long as the original density (the number of houses that can be built as-of-right on the property under the existing zone) does not change.
Conservation Easements - Conservation Easements are a legal means of controlling development on a particular parcel in order to preserve open space. Lands subject to Conservation Easements have controls or regulations limiting development.
Corridor (stream, scenic, open space, habitat) - a connection linking open space, wildlife habitats or other environmental features.
Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council (GBNRTC) - The Greater Buffalo-Niagara Regional Transportation Council is the interagency planning group that establishes transportation policies and programs for Erie and Niagara Counties. In 1975, the GBNRTC (which was known as the NFTC - Niagara Frontier Transportation Committee) was designated the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) responsible for transportation planning in these counties. The organization provides a regional decision-making forum for the development of a multi-modal integrated transportation system that best serves the Niagara Frontier.
Housing Stock - the overall supply of housing in an area, including all sizes and styles of residential development.
Hydric Soils - soils are considered to be hydric if they are saturated, flooded or impounded long enough during the growing season to develop low oxygen levels and changeable chemical conditions in the upper layer. These soils are very poorly drained and have a high probability of containing wetlands.
Infrastructure - the underlying framework of public works systems that includes sewers, water lines, roadways, drainage piping and other utility service systems.
Level of Service - this term refers to a measurement of the amount of automobile traffic on roadways. Level of Service or LOS, as defined in NFTC 2010 Transportation System Plan, is a qualitiative measure describing the operational conditions within a stream of traffic. It is a means of quantifying or "grading" the operational quality of service provided by a roadways facility (NFTC, December 1994). LOS employs a rating system of "A" through "F", with "A" representing the best conditions with minimal delays and "F" representing failing conditions with extensive congestion.
Neo-Urbanist Concepts - Neo-urbanist, or neo-traditional, planning concepts emphasize mixed-use development reminiscent of traditional "small-town" type development. Traditional grid street patterns are preferred. Additional design standards typically found in neo-urbanist plans include smaller building setbacks so that buildings create a street-line, use of public buildings or parks as focal points in design, and pedestrian-friendly features, such as sidewalks, crosswalks, benches and street trees.
Overlay District - an overlay district is created by identifying an area on a municipality's Zoning Map and specifying additional regulations to supplement the underlying zoning regulations. The underlying zoning of the area does not change. Rather, additional restrictions are overlain onto the district. When development is proposed within the boundaries of an overlay district, the developer must comply with the requirements of the existing zoning district and the overlay district.
Passive Recreation - passive recreation involves non-strenuous activities such as picnicking, bird watching, casual walking and scenic viewing.
Planned Unit Development (PUD) - Planned Unit Developments (PUD) allow the mixing of commercial, industrial and residential uses on a single property. Typically zoning does not allow mixing uses, but this technique allows for a more creative site plan, subject to municipal approval. The usual use of PUDs is the creation of a planned community, with a proper mix of uses and layout. If they are allowed within a municipality, the Code specifies the minimum size of a PUD (acreage), and the requirements that must be followed. It must be understood that this zoning category is not an "open approval" to all uses. A plan must be submitted and approved by municipal authorities. A subcategory of PUDs is the Planned Residential District, or PRD. In this zoning category only residential uses are allowed, but there is greater leeway in the mixing of housing types (single-family, duplexes, apartments, condos, etc.).
Subdivision - The division of any parcel of land into two or more lots for immediate sale or development with or without streets or highways.
Transfer of Development Rights - This is a legal mechanism for preserving land and open space, by allowing denser development elsewhere within the municipality. In the areas identified for protection, the "development rights" can be sold or transferred to a receiving area, where denser development is appropriate. The area that purchased the development rights is allowed increased density (more units per acre, for example). In exchange, development is prohibited in the area selling the development rights.
Wetlands - those areas which are inundated or saturated by surface or groundwater at a frequency of duration sufficient to support, or that under normal circumstances do support, a prevalence of vegetation typically adapted for life in saturated soil conditions. Wetlands include bogs, swamps, marshes, cattail ponds, wet forests and meadows. These areas may not be wet or covered by water throughout the year.
Zoning Districts - In a municipality there exists zoning which tells you what can be built on the property (the use), and how it shall be built on the land (bulk requirements including size, height, etc.). Each zoning district has specific regulations regarding uses and bulk that must be followed. The zoning districts are identified through a zoning map that depicts where the boundaries of the zoning district exist.