Hearing May 15 will discuss zoning changes at Potsdam church to accommodate local business
Monday, May 8, 2017 - 5:57 am

By CRAIG FREILICH

POTSDAM -- The village will host a hearing May 15 on changing the zoning at the First Presbyterian Church at Elm Street and Lawrence Avenue so they can accommodate a local business.

The change from R-1 residential to Innovation District or “ID” is being considered so that the church can host a profit-making venture in their buildings. The church is asking for the rezoning so they can accommodate Trillium Center for Yoga and Health, according to village Planning and Development Director Fred Hanss.

Trilllium opened in August 2015 at 25 Market St. It offers classes and workshops in a variety of yoga and related styles for all experience levels.

The Innovation Center zoning designation was initially adopted in Potsdam for Clarkson University’s old downtown campus buildings along Main and Elm streets across from the Civic Center, where a variety of development efforts will be permitted.

“Many larger communities have such zoning districts in areas where they had a lot of vacant space such as lofts and warehouses,” Hanss said.

They typically contain “extremely mixed-use space – art galleries, small internet cafés, laboratories, housing for young professionals and students,” he said. Clarkson’s plans for the area “encompass all those things.”

The First Presbyterian Church of Potsdam and Presbyterian Center, 42 Elm Street, is adjacent to the old Clarkson campus, so if adopted the requested change would not be spot zoning, Hanss said.

“We recommended to the board the change to ID from R-1, for potential rental of the building to a for-profit entity” said village Planning Board Chairman Jim Corbett.

If the change is approved, “they would still need to get back to the board for a special use permit” before Trillium could use the space, Corbett said.

The hearing on the proposed zoning change will be held in the Civic Center May 15 at 6:45 p.m. before the regular Board of Trustees meeting.