FREEPORT

Freeport’s town council has approved the use of contract zoning for the planning of a 13,000-square-foot, three-story retail building at 56-58 Main St.

There was no comment from the public during a hearing held Tuesday.

However, Councilor Andy Wellen took the opportunity to state his opposition to the use of contract zoning in general.

Contract zoning was requested because the town’s zoning ordinance limits building height to 35 feet in that district. Situated on a slope, the building height ranges between 38 and 48 feet tall.

However, Wellen said that contract zoning would “dilute the strength of zoning regulations.”

The applicant, Wellen said, could come forward with a smaller building, or the town should be “looking at the downtown as a whole” in regards to its zoning ordinance.

Councilor Kristina Egan, said the project “catalyzes economic development in the right places,” while the contract zone “is not in any violation of the spirit of the law.”

Developers Berenson Associates are proposing to construct the building on an empty lot between two other buildings: a clapboard building housing Jones New York and Vineyard Vines, and a brick building with a Jill McGowan store. That brick building would also see upgrades, including the addition of a roof top deck.

Town Planner Donna Larson said the Project Review Board will then draft a contract, taking into account height issues, that would then be voted on by the council.

The proposed development lies within Councilor D. Scott Gleeson’s district. While supporting the project, the councilor urged developers to make the final building blend with the surrounding, historic buildings.

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