TOWN OF NIAGARA – The Town Board wants to look at allowing office use and light storage facilities in commercial zones.

Town Attorney Michael Risman told the board members at a work session Thursday that he and Supervisor Steve Richards had discussed permitting offices and storage sites to move into areas zoned for business use, such as Military and Porter roads.

Present zoning restrictions allow office and storage use only in light industrial zones, which are scattered throughout the town. Office and storage use is not permitted in business areas unless selling is conducted on the premises, he said.

Risman said the change would allow the town to keep up with development trends. The proposal would allow retail space on plazas and other areas to be rented for office use and storage of office files, for example.

He said there are fewer of the traditional large office buildings in existence, and “more and more space in retail is going to office use.” He used the Apple- Tree Mall in Cheektowaga as an example.

“We believe this would result in increased occupancy in retail areas and increased jobs,” Risman said. “The world is changing, and these maps were drawn 11 years ago.”

A public hearing would allow the board to solicit opinions on the proposal and find out if it “would negatively impact the retail store next door,” he the town attorney said.

Most of the councilmen seemed to favor holding the hearing to get opinions on the issue.

Deputy Supervisor Danny Sklarski, who presided over the session because Richards was ill and did not attend, said he would direct the town clerk to put the matter on the agenda for Tuesday so a hearing could be scheduled.