Bayville trustees have approved controversial zoning code changes that will allow four-unit apartment buildings in village business districts.
The "changes are expected to boost local businesses by reducing and eliminating blight while simultaneously attracting young professionals to Bayville," Mayor Paul Rupp said at the beginning of the packed meeting, which drew about 400 people to Bayville Intermediate School on Monday night.
Rupp said about 40 percent of Bayville's commercial properties are vacant, underdeveloped or in need of repairs.
Residents who spoke at the contentious hearing over more than four hours overwhelmingly opposed changes they said would hurt their quality of life and could open the door for further changes.
"Why do we have this need for developing residential buildings?" asked Rita deRose, 66, a retired teacher. "How will that help the residents of Bayville that will have their quality of life destroyed by these residential buildings?"
The meeting, which ran past midnight, was frequently punctuated by residents shouting comments such as, "Hell no! We don't want it!"
Many speakers called for a public referendum on the zoning changes or for a delay on the vote, but Rupp said early in the meeting that a vote would be held.
Monday night's hearing continued an April 27 hearing that was adjourned without a vote after a large crowd came out to oppose the zoning changes. A second hearing scheduled last month was postponed.
Rupp said the impact of the amendments will be limited because multiunit apartment buildings will still require special use permits subject to board approval, and such permits cannot be issued to other properties with a special use permit within 250 feet.
The administration reduced its original proposal for nine-unit apartment buildings in response to community criticism, Rupp said.
The changes will allow for ground-floor apartments in the business districts and will reduce to 50 feet from 250 feet the distance required between a building with a special use permit and a residential building.
The zoning changes keep in place a ban against residential buildings in commercial districts, but apartment buildings with up to four units would not be classified as residential.
A 1965 map of the village's zoning shows two main business districts -- one on the western end of Bayville Avenue and another along Ludlam Avenue and its intersection with Bayville Avenue.
A more recent map was unavailable Tuesday, but the districts looked similar to those in a PowerPoint presentation shown at the meeting that has not been made public.
Some residents complained there was a lack of transparency in the process.
Village officials took several actions on the zoning changes before the April hearing and outside of the normal meeting schedule.
According to the resolution passed Monday, the board of trustees on March 27 circulated a notice to several other governmental entities that the village would be the lead agency to make a determination of the environmental impact of the proposed zoning changes, as required by state law.
And on April 10, village officials published a public notice announcing the April 27 hearing. Deputy Mayor Joe Russo said those actions had been undertaken by Rupp on behalf of the board of trustees, which is the normal course of village business.
By the time the trustees voted shortly after midnight, the crowd had dwindled to about 100 -- and the vote began amid yells and boos.
Three zoning amendments passed with two dissenting votes from the six-member board and mayor on two of them, and three dissenting votes on the third.