JAMESTOWN – The city of Jamestown will be the lead agency for the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) for the Gateway Lofts project.
On Tuesday the Jamestown Planning Commission approved being the lead agency for the SEQR process, which is required to be completed before any final action or recommendation on the project can be made by commission members.
The approval came after commission members met with the attorney, architect and officials behind the project, which would involve converting the current Gateway Center (the former Chautauqua Hardware building) on Water St. into a 110 unit housing complex.
In 2018 officials with Southern Tier Environments for Living (STEL), Community Helping Hands, and the Jamestown YWCA first came forward and proposed renovating much of the building in order to develop 79 apartment units on the second, third, and fourth floor of the building known as the Gateway Lofts Project. Those units would be used by a variety of tenants, including single parent families recommended by the YWCA, those with disabilities, and also those who would be referred from the county jail diversion program.
In October 2018 the planning commission initially voted to prevent the project from moving forward, based on the project not being fully in line with the Neighborhood Revitalization Plan, along with several other environmental concerns that were raised about the project.
During Tuesday’s meeting, project representatives stated that they have altered some details of the plan. That included eliminating the jail diversion component that was initially proposed, adding additional and enhanced green space around the building, removing commercial space from the first floor to make room for additional housing units, and allowing the property to generate tax revenue for the city. Additionally, 30 more units were added to bring the total number of units up to 110. The group also plans to acquire nearby property in order to ensure that any children living at the Gateway Lofts would have an appropriate playground area to use.
An environmental review of the property must take place before any final approval occurs. city Planner Crystal Surdyk said after the meeting the SEQR process could take several months to complete. The Gateway Lofts developers said they are hoping to get permission on the project prior to the summer of 2020, when they would ideally like to begin the renovation effort.
TATTOO PARLORS DISCUSSED
The commission also had a discussion on updating the city zoning laws to provide more options for prospective tattoo parlor business.
Right now they can only operating in a light manufacturing zone.
Zoning Board of Appeals chair Ellen DiTonto talked with the planning commission members about the repeated variance requests from prospective tattoo business that have been turned down. She suggested that maybe its time the city adjust its zoning to be more accommodating for tattoo shops.
Two members of the local tattoo community also were on hand to explain how the tattoo business has changed over the years and has become more of an artisan profession.
Planning commission member John LaMancuso seemed to be receptive to making a recommendation to the Jamestown City Council to adjust the city code and expand the areas where tattoo shops can open, saying the city shouldn’t be turning away people who want to open new businesses downtown.
The commission said it will look further into the issue in the next couple of months and could likely have a recommendation for the city council early next year.