CITY of GLENS FALLS
ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS September 18, 2006
A regular Zoning Board of Appeals meeting was held at 6:30 P.M. on Monday, September 18, 2006 in the Common Council Chambers, City Hall, 42 Ridge Street, Glens Falls, New York 12801. Present: Chairwoman Melanie Potter, Commissioners Richard Lee, William Casey and Michelle Hayward and Gloria Brilling. Absent: None. Also Present: Attorney Michael Mercure and Councilman Bennet Driscoll.
Chairwoman Potter opened the meeting and introduced the Board and Attorney Mercure. She noted Code Enforcement Officer John Ward and Deputy City Attorney James LaPann were not present and welcomed Councilman Driscoll. She noted that a Use Variance on the agenda this evening seems to have been improperly advertised as an Area Variance. The other is for an Area Variance. She then addressed the minutes from the June and July meetings of the Board. She noted in the July minutes the neighbors’ name on page 2 is “Albano”. She noted that Mr. & Mrs. Isaacs application, which had been tabled at the June meeting, was withdrawn.
RESOLUTION NO. 18
On the motion of Commissioner Hayward, seconded by Chairwoman Potter, all voting affirmatively, excepting Commissioner Lee, who abstained with regards to the July minutes and Commissioner Brilling who abstained with regards to the June minutes, it was RESOLVED THAT, the Zoning Board of Appeals hereby approves the minutes of the June and July meetings, as amended.
Chairwoman Potter reviewed the Article 78 process “Any person or persons jointly or severally aggrieved by any decision of the Board of Appeals or any officer, department, Board or Bureau of the City may apply to the Supreme Court for relief by a proceeding under Article 78 of the Civil Practice Laws and Rules. Such proceeding shall be governed by the provisions of Article 78 of the Civil Practice Laws and Rules and must be initiated as therein provided within 30 days after the filing of a decision in the office of the Board .” She then read the burden of proof necessary for the granting of a Use Variance: “In order to be granted a Use Variance, the applicant must prove unnecessary hardship by demonstrating that for each and every permitted use in the district 1) the applicant is substantially unable to make a reasonable return from the property as shown by competent financial evidence, 2) the hardship is somewhat unique, or at least not shared by a majority of the parcels in the zone or district, 3) the hardship has not been self-created, and 4) the relief asked for, the requested variance, will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood.” In reviewing Area Variances: “The standard to be used is the weighing of the benefit to the applicant the standard to be used is the
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weighing of the benefit to the applicant against the detriment to the health, safety and welfare of the neighborhood or community if the variance is granted. In making this determination, the Zoning Board of Appeals must take into account the following factors: #1 - whether an undesirable change will be produced in the character of the neighborhood or a detriment to nearby properties will be created; #2- whether an applicant can achieve his goals via a reasonable alternative which does not involve the necessity of an area variance; #3- whether the area variance is substantial; #4- whether the area variance will have an adverse impact on physical or environmental conditions in the neighborhood or district; #5- whether or not there has been any self-created difficulty.”
The next item is a Use Variance No. 06-06, Robert Baker, owner of tax map no. 309.12, block 10, lot 41, commonly known as 3 Third Street, seeking approval to convert a single family dwelling to a two family dwelling, at this location. This application was denied by the Code Enforcement Officer, pursuant to the City Zoning Ordinance, Section 220-11 B., which prohibits two family dwellings in an R-1B (Single-Family Moderate Density Residential District) zone. Robert Baker, 3 Third St., owner of the property addressed the Board and was sworn in. He stated he’d owned the property for 4 months. It was his parents’ home, which he purchased from the rest of his family members. He stated that the home is too big just for himself Since there are several other two family homes on the street, including the property at #5 Third Street, which was also owned by his father, he thought to convert this house, which he would live in also to help him with the mortgage and taxes. He has substantial parking and thinks it would be helpful to the neighborhood to have decent people in there. The neighborhood is pretty much all two-family housing over there. Chairwoman Potter asked the applicant if he’d filled out the application – with Mr. Ward? Mr. Baker replied yes. Chairwoman Potter asked the applicant if this was his writing on the application? Mr. Baker replied yes. He added that Mr. ward was present when he filled it out. Chairwoman Potter asked about the house next door. Mr. Baker replied it’s a two family that’s been sold, approximately 3-4 months ago. It was a family sale as part of the estate. Chairwoman Potter asked if the square footage of the houses was similar? Mr. Baker replied #5 is bigger. Chairwoman Potter stated a Use Variance is a consideration of financial concern and your burden. We need to know about the financial reasons he wants to have this. She asked if he pays a mortgage? Mr. Baker replied yes. He purchased it from his brothers and sisters, at a cost of $113,000. He mortgaged about $98,000.
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Chairwoman Potter asked if the mortgage was set up with an escrow account? Mr. Baker replied no. Chairwoman Potter asked if he was already in default on his mortgage? Mr. Baker replied no, but he just got his tax bill. He is not in default on those either and doesn’t plan to be. He would like the variance to help him pay his taxes and because the house is too large just for himself. He proceeded to display for the Board the house plans he had drawn up to convert the house into a two-family with 2 bedrooms each and the substantial parking available. Commissioner Lee stated if the house is too big, why did he purchase it? Mr. Baker replied because it’s been his home most of his life, has done the maintenance and up keep on it for many years.
Commissioner Lee asked where his tenants would park? Mr. Baker replied he has substantial room out in the back of the house for parking, as well as a big driveway and two-car garage for his own use. Commissioner Casey asked where he would put the snow? Mr. Baker replied he has a plow come in that pushes it to the back of the property, where there is room to pile it up and he snow blows the rest. Commissioner Casey asked the applicant if when he purchased the house, did he realize that he would be stretched for the payments? Mr. Baker replied yes. He stated further that he is employed. This is one of his major goals in life to do this. Commissioner Casey stated one of the criteria is “self-created hardship”. He is seeing that you created the hardship. You bought this property knowing that financially you’re going to have trouble maintaining it and keeping it without changing the use of it as it is right now. Mr. Baker stated his brother is his co-signer. He used him in case anything happened, which he’s not looking for. He will make his payments and pay his taxes. The house is way too big. His father added on to the home years ago because the family got so big. He plans to update the electric and insulate. Commissioner Brilling asked why he didn’t buy the house at #5, since it was already a two family. Mr. Baker replied because it’s in worse shape. It’s larger and would be more expensive to update. Commissioner Hayward asked if behind the house, where he proposes tenant parking, is paved?
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Mr. Baker replied yes and that he would pave further, if necessary. Commissioner Casey asked if he knew the cost to convert this? Mr. Baker replied yes – it would be for materials only, since he would do the work. He has been in construction all of his life. That’s why he’d take the project on, because it would be cheaper for him to do the work. Chairwoman Potter stated it’s true there are other two-family homes in the area. But sometimes the way a neighborhood looks isn’t the way it was planned to be or how it’s supposed to be now, when you look at the City’s Master Plan. A lot of the conversions done on South Street were either done before the Zoning Code existed or they were done during, when no one knew about it or they were done after by a Use Variance. So what you have here is a house that it would make sense to convert. You think you have the space and the plans, but what we have to deal with is does the application meet the burden of proof necessary. She feels badly if Mr. Baker went to Buildings and Codes and felt he was given incorrect information. She asked in the beginning if he’d made out the application. She’s going to ask him that again. Is this the application you made out? Mr. Baker replied yes, except for the first page. Chairwoman Potter asked if he had any idea who made that out? Mr. Baker replied John. Chairwoman Potter stated she wants the record to reflect that the application submitted by Mr. Baker and signed by Mr. Baker appears to have been written by Mr. Ward, where it says “convert single to two-family dwelling” and where it says “unable to pay mortgage and taxes”. Commissioner Brilling asked Mr. Baker if when Mr. Ward was with him, looking over this first page, did he ask you these questions regarding certain items on the application and did you give him the answers, then he wrote it down? Mr. Baker replied he believed so. It was two months ago. He wasn’t sure and Mr. Ward helped him fill it out. Commissioner Brilling stated they should take that into consideration too. Commissioner Casey asked if the applicant was pretty clear on what he needed to bring to us? Mr. Baker replied no. He was just told to show up. Then he got a phone call from the secretary on the day of the last meeting and told they weren’t having a meeting. He stated further he wasn’t told to bring anything. He brought the plans because he thought the Board would want to see them. Chairwoman Potter asked if Mr. Baker had spoken to his neighbors about the project?
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Mr. Baker replied yes. He’s spoken to his niece next door. The house on the corner is being sold – there’s no one in it. He’s spoken to his neighbor across the street, to the guy who owns sub shop on the corner and his other neighbor next to him. They don’t have any problems with his plan. They were more than willing to come tonight, but he didn’t know if he should bring them. Chairwoman Potter stated as a matter of disclosure, she has the sub shop for sale. She is an associate broker, licensed broker and has 187 South Street for sale. Commissioner Lee stated he wonders if Mr. Baker would like an adjournment to review the criteria for a Use Variance? Mr. Baker replied certainly, he would like to get that information. He didn’t understand what he would have to provide. After further discussion, the following resolution was passed.
RESOLUTION NO. 19 On the motion of Commissioner Lee, seconded by Chairwoman Potter, it was RESOLVED THAT, the Zoning Board of Appeals hereby tables the application of Robert Baker, owner of tax map no. 309.12, block 10, lot 41, commonly known as 3 Third Street, seeking a Use Variance to convert a single family dwelling to a two family dwelling, at this location, until the October meeting of the Board and requests the applicant obtain and review a copy of the four criteria required to be granted a Use Variance, from the Buildings and Codes Office. Roll call vote taken on the foregoing resolution resulted as follows: AYES: Chairwoman Potter, Commissioners Lee, Casey, Hayward and Brilling. NAYS: None. Said resolution declared Adopted.
The next item on the agenda is Area Variance No. 06-07, The Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, contract vendee for VMJ Industries, Inc., owners of tax map no. 309.21, block 3, lot 1, commonly known as 81 Mohican Street, seeking an Area Variance for the amount of lot coverage by pavement and buildings. The applicants propose 73.6% lot coverage. This application was denied by the Code Enforcement Officer, pursuant to the City Zoning Ordinance, Section 220-18 H., which requires 60% maximum lot coverage in a GC-2 (General Commercial District 2) zone.
Chairwoman Potter reviewed the Project Referral Form from Warren County Planning, who reviewed the application on 8/9/06, which indicated the construction of a 46’x94’ single story building, a 12’x24’ garage and parking for 65 cars. She stated further that “the County recommends no County impact, with a condition to evaluate reducing the project to meet 60% maximum lot coverage and/or provide information as to the necessity of the variance and to implement proper erosion and storm water control measures and provide provisions for snow removal”.
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She stated further that the Planning Board approved the site plan, per their “Resolution No. 35 - On the motion of Chairman Bruno, seconded by Commissioner Greene, all voting affirmatively, it was
RESOLVED THAT, the Planning Board hereby grants architectural and site plan approval to The Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, contract vendee for tax map no. 309.21, block 3, lot 1, commonly known as 81 Mohican Street, to construct a place of worship, at this location, as presented at the meeting of 7/5/06, subject to the granting of a variance by the Zoning Board of Appeals with respect to the amount of greenspace required.”
Craig Nicholson, 2997 Lk. George Dr., Lake George, NY, contractor for the project, addressed the Board and was sworn in. He stated they realize they are exactly 13.4% over the amount allowed for impermeable area on the lot. By way of mitigation, as indicated on the second page, as a buffer, they would use arbor vitae – a 140’ stretch there. Also, on the Murray Street side they would leave all the large trees and wall around those to leave them in place. They would also plant Birch and Maple trees in the front. In the back, between the parking area and the retaining wall, which would be from 3-5’ high, they would grow ivy on that for additional growth on the property. The storm drainage and runoff plans have been approved by the Planning Board. Commissioner Lee stated if he understands the concessions, they involve additional landscaping, but not any deduction in the impervious space. Mr. Nicholson replied if they narrow it up they can’t drive around the building and if they bring it back into the building, they can’t get around the back. Commissioner Lee suggested discontinuing the 6 parking spaces to the west side of the building. They could move back in and leave a substantially larger buffer along Murray St. He’s proposing they give up 6 spaces out of 65 – or approximately 10%. Chairwoman Potter stated why don’t you give them for the record, how the determination is made as to how many parking spaces you actually need. Mr. Nicholson stated they went by the formula for the Planning Board. He doesn’t have it here. That was already approved by them. He believes they’ll currently need only 62 spaces, so it’s possible they can let go a few – 6 would put them to a point where they’d have to go diagonally or across the street and use some of the City parking there. There is no on-street parking. He stated further that with regards to moving that west side buffer in towards the building is the Planning Board wanted them to use that entrance there as only an entrance – the one to the left and not allow it as an exit. If they move that over the turning radius for the carport becomes difficult. Chairwoman Potter asked Mr. Nicholson’s actual title in association with the project? Mr. Nicholson replied he’s an elder in the congregation and also the Chairman of the Building Committee – there are five members on the committee. They made decisions as to the style of the building so it fits in with the atmosphere in Glens Falls, from execution to finish. Chairwoman Potter stated her understanding of the need for parking is it’s in part based on the square footage of the building and also in part based on the number of pews in a church building. So you’re proposing how many pews?
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Mr. Nicholson replied approximately 150. Chairwoman Potter asked at a typical service, how many congregates do you have at a service? Mr. Nicholson replied on two nights of the week, Monday and Wednesday there would be 20-30 people in the building. On Tuesdays, 120 and Thursdays about 90 people. Sundays would have two meetings, at 9:30 AM and 1:00 PM; each would run about 10% more than those two nights. He explained two congregations have joined. Chairwoman Potter stated they sold their building in South Glens Falls and that’s no longer in use for the church. Mr. Nicholson replied that’s correct, they’re using theirs in West Glens Falls, located on at the corner of Corinth Road and Ogden. Chairwoman Potter asked what is the main force that takes you out of that Ogden St. building and putting you in the market for another, bigger, better building space? Mr. Nicholson replied because each congregation only used their buildings approximately 5 hours a week – that’s only 10 hours per week. So it didn’t make much sense to have a $400,000 building that you’re only spending 5 hours in so it was recommended to them to try and sell both building and put both congregations in one new building. They sold the one in South Glens Falls about a month ago. Chairwoman Potter asked if #3 Ogden is their other building? Mr. Nicholson replied yes. Chairwoman Potter stated it’s listed by Prudential Manor Homes, for whom she is an independent contractor. In no way does this impact her or her salary. Mr. Nicholson stated and it’s expired. Chairwoman Potter stated she wants details on the property size - #3 Ogden St. is on 1.24 acres, with paved parking there for 100 vehicles. Mr. Nicholson stated that’s not correct. Mr. Nicholson stated there is paved parking there for approximately 55 vehicles. The rest of the congregation parks on the road, on Ogden. Chairwoman Potter stated, although they have the plans here – she asked for the size of the old and new buildings, the parking lots and what the rooms of the building will be used for. Mr. Nicholson replied the old building was 40x80, 3200 square feet. This one will be 46x94, 4,600 sq. ft. There is an additional room in there for school, an extra bathroom and baby care room. The stage is a bit wider.
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He stated the reason they can get by with a smaller piece of land is because they were told they could use the City’s storm drains and didn’t have to build a detention or retention pond on the property. That’s all laid out on the plans by Clough Harbour. Chairwoman Potter asked where else at their old building do people park, besides the paved area. Mr. Nicholson replied on the road, there is space for 6 cars. If they have a funeral there is an additional area of rubble, with grass growing over it they can park on if they need it. Chairwoman Potter stated last month when they didn’t have a quorum, she received a call from Mr. Dan Willis – is he on that committee? Mr. Nicholson replied yes, he’s on the Construction Committee. Chairwoman Potter stated he said to her that you had a $10,000 non-refundable deposit on this lot. That’s what made it necessary for them to consider a special meeting. If they didn’t have a meeting last month, you wouldn’t be here this month with a new application or a continuation. So is she to presume that deadline on that deposit situation was misunderstood or was it extended? Mr. Nicholson replied no. The reason they were trying to have the meeting last week is because he was going to be out of town tonight. He flew in from France this morning and just got in now. It was a $15,000 deposit. It was on condition, the conditions are that Vic Macry has to allow them to meet or else they will get their money back. If they’re not issued a Building Permit, they will get their money back. Chairwoman Potter stated so Mr. Willis’ statement to her was inaccurate at best? Mr. Nicholson replied at the time it was not inaccurate. He talked again with Vic Marcry. Mr. Macry had forgotten that we needed to get a Building Permit. At the time Dan and he spoke Vic thought they were under contract even without a Building Permit, which they are not. He was telling us we would lose out money if it didn’t go through. But then he showed him they needed to have a Building Permit before they did a final closing, he realized that and backed down. Dan was right at the time for what he knew when he spoke with you. Then we cleared that up with Mr. Macry. Chairwoman Potter asked if they cleared that up by giving Mr. Macry an additional $5,000 deposit? Mr. Nicholson replied no, they have $15,000 down. Commissioner Lee asked for a copy of the contract. Chairwoman Potter stated she’s not done with this yet. Is Mr. Willis a builder? She knows him as a part of HEI Builders. She has no financial dealings with him. She stated further these are the things she got from Mr. Willis in that phone call, at the time they had to cancel the last meeting that for one you wanted an emergency meeting, two, the
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article about the $10,000 deposit and three, you had a drop dead date of 8/29. That’s not easy to misunderstand – if you people don’t give us a special meeting you are done with this project. Mr. Nicholson replied that’s exactly what Vic Macry told them. If we didn’t close on the 28th the contract was null and void. So he called their lawyer to call Mr. Macry’s lawyer to tell him this is the way it is – they don’t have a Building Permit so we aren’t going to close. They don’t want a piece of empty land they can’t put a building on. Chairwoman Potter asked the purchase price suggested? Mr. Nicholson replied $150,000. He then retrieved a copy of the contract for Commissioner Lee to review. Commissioner Lee asked if there were any addendums to the contract, dated November 9, 2005? He asked if this is the full extent of the contract – there are no signatures here. Chairwoman Potter reviewed the contract. She stated so at this point, there are no addendums that have extended the offer? Mr. Nicholson replied no. Chairwoman Potter stated as to the square footage increase over what they have currently, you said that bigger footprint is necessary because you want to add a school room, new bathroom, a child care area and stage? Mr. Nicholson replied a larger stage, yes. Chairwoman Potter stated so regardless of the fact that you have two separate congregations meeting apparently at two separate times, that at both of those times you need the additional square footage? Mr. Nicholson replied yes, because they’ll have literature announced from both congregations stored there. They’ll both use the interior area. Now, with both congregations meeting, they need one extra room so when one is using two rooms there is still a room available. Chairwoman Potter asked if they’d considered any other parcels for this use and what made this one appeal the your congregation or board? Mr. Nicholson replied they looked at 10-15 parcels. For each parcel they looked at they would call Clough Harbour in Albany who would come up and look at it for them. Clough Harbour gave them direction on what was do-able. He reviewed some of the other parcels looked at. He stated further that this is the cleanest piece of property they could find. Chairwoman Potter stated it’s clean, but how do you feel about the location?
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Mr. Nicholson stated it’s the only place where the two congregations attach, at the Bridge, so that’s where they want to be, in that area. It’s the most centrally located and the only piece of property they could find that would be an equal distance for each congregation, without them going 4-5 miles. It’s the only place where their territories meet, they run east to west and the River divides them. Chairwoman Potter said educate her on her on a Jehovah’s Witness kind of standard that she doesn’t understand – you have certain territories and you can’t go outside certain boundaries? Do the congregates have to live within a certain area and attend a church in that given area? Mr. Nicholson replied no - it makes more sense for them to be close to their church, but they have some that live in Glens Falls that go to South Glens Falls or vice versa – it’s not a problem. Chairwoman Potter stated so if members of your church live in South Glens Falls and you found a piece of property in Lake George, for example – you could not? Mr. Nicholson replied no they wouldn’t. He lives in Lake George, so he would like that, but that’s too far. They centralize to the territory. Chairwoman Potter asked him if it’s something that people want centralized or something “ordained”? Mr. Nicholson replied it’s not ordained. When you have two congregations meeting, you try to make it the best for both congregations, by putting it on the line of the two if you can. Chairwoman Potter asked how many parking spaces per service. How many parking spaces for special occasions? How many parking spaces for weekly evening meetings are the absolute minimum that you have to have? Mr. Nicholson stated what they have there is for the entire congregation on Sunday morning – the largest amount they’ll need, 63. They can probably get by with 2 or 3 less. Commissioner Hayward stated she counted 50. Commissioner Brilling stated she did too. Mr. Nicholson indicated the additional spaces around the building denoted on the plan. He noted that the parking spaces are 9x20 and there is at least 20’ between rows. Chairwoman Potter stated for the proposal tonight, you said your percentage of coverage had changed – what has been deleted from the plan? Mr. Nicholson replied they came back to their second Planning Board meeting with an increase in the greenspace. The Board had made some recommendations and they made those changes. They got the amount up about 5% more.
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He stated further that Mr. Macry may lease them additional land to add to this. He would retain the ownership and they would have an easement. They don’t know if their headquarters in Brooklyn will allow them to do that. Commissioner Hayward asked if this was two lots? Mr. Nicholson replied yes it is, they put them together into one. Chairwoman Potter stated the dimensions are 180’ along the Mohican side, 180’ in the back, 147.51’ running up Murray Street Hill and 171.11’ on the construction building side. Commissioner Hayward stated if it’s ok with the Board, she would like to ask a question about traffic. Is this the correct schematic for the ingress and egress to the property? Mr. Nicholson replies yes, it is. The Planning Board told them they were not allowed to exit the property at this point because it’s too close to the corner. So the lot is going in there, but only exiting down further, where they can also enter. That was changed per the Planning Board’s request. Commissioner Lee stated those curb cuts don’t exist though, so they can be moved. Mr. Nicholson stated currently there’s nothing there. Commissioner Lee stated what he suggested earlier, removing those 6 spaces on the west side of the building, you indicated for purposes of the curb cut that might prove to be difficult. To the extent the curb cut could be moved, that difficulty could be overcome. Mr. Nicholson replied it wasn’t because of the curb cut, it’s because we would be pushing it closer to the car port entrance. It may be a possibility, but it would be difficult for them to get by without those parking spaces. They’d probably have to see if they could get more land. Commissioner Hayward stated he mentioned overflow parking on City land. Mr. Nicholson stated across the street there is a dirt parking area there, owned by the City and used by the Playground. They won’t need to use it unless it were for a funeral or something like that. Chairwoman Potter asked if someone said they could use that or do they have an arrangement with the City? Mr. Nicholson stated it’s a public parking lot so they assumed for the instance of a funeral they could use it for 45 minutes. They use it for the Civic Center and use it for the Playground – it’s not private, it’s public. Commissioner Casey stated from the corner of Murray Street to the first entrance – how many feet is that?
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Mr. Nicholson replied approximately 40’, plus a 5’ sidewalk and 8’ of buffer – approximately 54’ in total to the curb. Commissioner Casey stated his concern is cars coming down Murray Street that are going to be taking a left. They’re now going to have to stop in a short distance after they pull onto Mohican St. to make that entrance. Mr. Nicholson stated but it is a Sunday morning at 7:30 AM when the most traffic would be there. Commissioner Casey stated Finch Pruyn is a 24-hour a day, 7-day a week operation. Chairwoman Potter stated the truck traffic is about 400 trucks every 48 hours, from the warehouse on Pruyn’s Island. That comes from Finch, Pruyn’s own source and the weekends are the heaviest. There’s a new supply store down there too. Commissioner Casey stated he has major concerns about that – because coming down, taking a left and having such a short distance to stop and pull in. Mr. Nicholson stated they value the Board’s opinion so if they want to nix it, just say it. Commissioner Hayward stated they need to bring up their concerns. Her concern too is the Murray Street Playground. It’s been in the news recently and she thinks it’s going to be even more in use, with the publicity. It’s always been in use, she always sees people playing there. So it’s just a concern she has – the increase in traffic, beyond what’s already there, even though they are limited hours they would be open. It’s number of cars she’s thinking of. Mr. Nicholson stated they thought this building would make it safer place, with the Playground because it is a church and there are church going people there, for the drug problem, etc. Commissioner Hayward stated she hears and agrees with what he’s saying. She thinks it’s a nice use, they’re just trying to look at all the angles. Chairwoman Potter stated because they’re talking about maybe putting cars on Cityowned land, across that busy intersection, with truck traffic, part of their job is to consider the health, safety and general welfare of the public, who ever they are. Whether there’s somebody in an existing use or somebody making a proposal. She thinks they all get the quesies thinking about traffic patterns of this. This particular proposal to her sounds like a big impact for that intersection. Commissioner Brilling stated the roundabout is going to be a source of additional traffic going down that way because people coming from South Glens Falls will be trying to avoid it and will go down Mohican St. and up Murray. Mr. Nicholson stated they keep trying to make this thing fit and it’s not fitting. They looked for something to go along smoothly and thought they’d be welcome and the City would be happy with it, but you’re the ones that ultimately decide.
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Chairwoman Potter stated they have a couple of things to consider. One of those is that the number of parking spaces is sort of a floating number. So that makes the amount of greenspace also a trite formula. Mr. Nicholson stated the number of parking spaces hasn’t changed – a minimum of 62. That plan is not going to change. What is asphalt on the plan will be asphalt and what is green will be green. They could knock down the size of the building some, which may bring the percentage of greenspace up 2%. He requested a letter from the Board stating that due to the impact of that intersection, you don’t approve so they can take it back to their lawyer and say we’re not going to buy this property. Commissioner Lee asked Mr. Mercure if he would do that? Attorney Mercure replied yes, if the Board authorized him to do so.
RESOLUTION NO. 20 On the motion of Commissioner Lee, seconded by Chairwoman Potter, it was RESOLVED THAT, the Zoning Board of Appeals hereby DENIES Area Variance request No. 06-07 for The Kingdom Hall of Jehovah’s Witnesses, contract vendees for VMJ Industries, Inc., owners of tax map no. 309.21, block 3, lot 1, commonly known as 81 Mohican Street, seeking a variance in the amount 13.4% with respect to lot coverage. The basis for the denial is that the Board believes there will be an undesirable change produced in the character of the neighborhood to the detriment of nearby properties, particularly to the Murray Street Playground, due to the increased traffic flow as the result of the congregation attending the various services. As to whether the benefit sought by the applicant could be achieved by some other method, based upon the statements made by the applicant, it appears that the size of the building and the number of parking spaces required in order to meet their purposes cannot be amended or reduced in any substantial fashion. The proposal as set forth which approximates 73.6% of lot coverage is excessive. As to whether the proposed variance will have an adverse effect or impact on the physical or environmental conditions in the neighborhood or district, they would reiterate that which was stated concerning criteria number one, with respect to traffic flow. As to whether the difficulty was self-created, to the extent that there is a provision in the contract which will permit the applicant to void the contract, dated 11/9/05 between VMJR Properties, LLC and The Glens Falls Congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses, they don’t believe the alleged difficulty will be insurmountable.
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They reference two specific contingencies, set forth in paragraph 6, subparagraph b – that the deposit which the proposed buyer has placed in escrow can be returned if the City’s approval is not forthcoming. So as to eliminate any ambiguity, in the event that this motion is approved, the City’s approval is unequivocally denied, as is acceptance of the plan, as proposed. In so far as the primary concern of the Board’s is the substantial increase in traffic, even if the proposed buyer were to purchase additional property from the VMJR Properties, so as to decrease the amount of lot coverage, that would not dissuade the Board from its reluctance to approve the proposed variance. In the event there were insufficient parking places, any potential overflow congregates would have to park in the City parking lot on the west side of Murray Street at the base of the hill and traverse Murray Street, to enter the Church, that their health, safety and welfare would be considerably jeopardized, particularly given the trucks that utilize Murray Street with frequency, including specifically, but not limited to those of Finch, Pruyn. Roll call vote taken on the foregoing resolution resulted as follows: AYES: Chairwoman Potter, Commissioners Lee, Casey, Hayward and Brilling. NAYS: None. Said resolution declared DENIED.
RESOLUTION NO. 21
On the motion of Commissioner Lee, seconded by Commissioner Brilling, all voting affirmatively, it was RESOLVED THAT, the Zoning Board of Appeals hereby adjourns the September, 2006 meeting.