May 11, 2010


Residents oppose Court St. addition

Developer seeks approval of 2 more units in new building at 19 W. Court St.

Staff Reporter
After listening to public opposition, the city Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday ended a public hearing on whether John DelVecchio should be allowed to house tenants in the two basement apartments of his new building at 19 W. Court St.
Several city residents spoke in opposition to DelVecchio’s proposal.
The board now has 62 days to decide whether the city should issue DelVecchio a certificate of zoning compliance, which would state that the use of a property reflects the use approved by the Planning Commission.
City Zoning Officer Bruce Weber said the board will review the minutes from previous discussions about DelVecchio’s proposal in meetings before making its decision.
The basement units were not part of a design approved by the city Planning Commission.
The new building is behind the former home of George Brockway, who founded the former Brockway truck factory in the city. DelVecchio plans to use the rear building for rental units.
Weber denied DelVecchio a certificate of zoning compliance. DelVecchio needs the certificate before he can legally house tenants in the new building.
Weber has said he denied DelVecchio the certificate for the rear building because his site plan for the property has nine units, and the site plan the city Planning Commission approved in November 2008 only had seven units. Weber said he believes adding two units to a planned rental property would require a site plan review because more tenants could lead to increased vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
Under DelVecchio’s updated plan, the front building would have three residential units, as originally planned, and the number of units in the rear building would increase from four to six.
DelVecchio filed a lawsuit against the city Planning Commission and former city Zoning Officer Amy Bertini in November for not issuing the certificate. The lawsuit was dismissed in state Supreme Court because of a technical error, said Scott Chatfield, DelVecchio’s attorney.
When Weber was hired to replace Bertini, who retired, he also denied DelVecchio the certificate. DelVecchio then took his case to the ZBA, which extended its public hearing from April 10 to Monday night. The ZBA now has 62 days to rule on whether to uphold or overturn Weber’s decision.
Chatfield has said the city Planning Commission does not have the authority to approve or disapprove the number of units in a rental. It can only rule on whether a rental property has enough parking spaces, he said. A rental property is required to have two parking spaces per unit, he added.
With the two additional units, DelVecchio’s buildings would have nine units and 18 parking spaces, which meets the requirements, Chatfield said.
Also on Monday, the ZBA granted developer Joe Armideo a special use permit to convert an apartment house at 45 Tompkins St. into off-campus student housing. The permit will give him an exception to a city code by allowing more than three unrelated people to live in a rental unit.
Armideo has said he would convert the structure into a sorority house if he can “secure a sorority.” Otherwise, he would make the house into “commercial indoor housing,” which means it would provide residential or temporary overnight housing in individual rooms or suites. The use encompasses hotels, motels, boarding houses and rooming houses. In this case, Armideo plans to make it into four apartments sharing one kitchen, each housing three students.
Armideo’s proposal will now go to the Historic Review Board, before it comes back to the Planning Commission for a site plan review.


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