Art gallery not in the picture for Greenfield Hill district -- yet
Despite some artful maneuvering by commissioners, the Town Plan and Zoning Commission on Tuesday denied a compliance motion for a proposal to open an art gallery on Bronson Road.
The proposal called for an art gallery, previously located downtown at the corner of the Post Road and Ruane Street, to move into a former bank building at 1899 Bronson Road, across the street from the Greenfield Commons shopping center.
The property, however, is located in a Neighborhood Designed Business District, and the town's zoning regulations don't specifically include art galleries as a permitted use.
Under the regulations, the uses allowed in a NDBD "shall be limited to those which will primarily serve the local neighborhood." Retail uses, in the regulation, are limited to antiques, art supplies, art studios, books, clothing, drugs, dry goods, flowers, furniture, interior decorating, garden and farm supplies, gifts, groceries, fruits, vegetables, meats, sandwiches, hardware, shoe repair, stationery, periodicals and toilet articles, pets and related supplies. Also allowed are business and professional offices that provide services to clients on site, banks and financial institutions, and self-service laundries.
"I don't see where it gives us discretion to go beyond that," TPZ Commissioner Douglas Soutar said, as much as some would like to see an art gallery there.
Planning Director Joseph Devonshuk said state statutes give the commission the authority to interpret its own regulations.
Chairman Bryan LeClerc said the regulations allows interior decorating in the NDBD zone. "It seems to me art would be interior decorating," he said. "In my mind, art is a form of interior decorating ... that's why we put art in our houses."
But Soutar said he believes the term "interior decorating" is much broader than art gallery.
"The great defense of the NDBD is the specificity," said Commissioner James Kennelly, "but I think in this case what you have is a very specific professional space."
But Commissioner Matthew Wagner said he would be hesitant to classify an art gallery as a professional office. "It's a gallery, and it is in some ways designed to entice people to come in and look," Wagner said. In contrast, he said, a medical office, for instance, is by appointment only.
Vice Chairman Seth Baratz suggested the gallery is a retail use and, as such, is allowed in the zone, but said he'd prefer there not be any ambiguity in making any allowance for the business.
The commissioners decided they would deny the compliance application and instruct the gallery owner to come back with a proposal to amend the NDBD regulation to specifically include art galleries.
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