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Call to Order / Determination of Quorum
The meeting, held at the Historic Watts dePeyster Hall, was opened at 7:04 pm and a quorum was determined to be present for the conduct of business.
- Chair Laura Gail Tyler
- Karen Cleaveland
- Bob Zises
- Jonathan Trombly
- Applicants Joe Luzzi and Helena Baillie
- Stephen Falk
- Trustee Susan Ezrati
- Mark Bennett
Duncan Roy, Lydia Cordier, Tom Cordier, Tim Lynch, John Hallstein, Dave Cleaveland, Don Stickle, Mike Billeci, Jake Stortini, Sue Marcotte, Kevin Marsh, Katharine Millonti The first item of business was to approve the draft minutes from the November 2, 2015 meeting.
Karen Cleaveland moved to approve the minutes as presented. Bob Zises seconded. All in favor. Motion carried.
Four Area variances for 15 Charlotte Lane – Applicants Joe Luzzi and Helena Baillie: Chair Tyler explained that the variances are for a single family residence that is being constructed by Joe Luzzi and Helena Baillie. The variances result from the location of the parcel being in the Historic Overlay district. Three of the variances concern the size of the house and one concerns the location of the house. These are the four area variances requested:
- The size of the footprint of the house. Maximum allowed is 1750 square feet for the footprint and the applicant is requesting 2259 square feet.
- The square footage of the house. Maximum allowed is 2600 square feet and applicant is requesting 3847 square feet.
- The width of the house. The maximum width allowed is 48 feet. The applicant is requesting 61 feet.
- The front set back. The maximum distance allowed from the front property line is 70 feet.
The applicant is requesting 280 feet. This is measured from where the flag starts.
Chair Tyler made the declaration that this is a Type II action under SEQR so there is no need for an environmental review. She stated that the Board has a complete application, the fee has been paid, and the legal notices have been done. She also stated that this was referred to the ZBA by the Planning Board which had a study done by the Village Planner Michele Greig and these are the variances that were found to be required for the proposed single family residence.
The applicant, Joe Luzzi, made a presentation to the Board and public which is attached.
Chair Tyler stated that there will be a meeting and public hearing with the Planning Board next week on this project because in the Historic Overlay district a new project requires site plan approval. She clarified that the applicant presented issues that relate both to the site plan and the required variances. Tonight the discussion will relate only to the requested variances not the other site plan issues. She explained the history of the application. When the applicant was issued his building permit for the foundation only, the more stringent requirements of the Historic Overlay district were overlooked. The error was caught and now we are going through the process of getting all the approvals that would have been required for the project. In this case, we are proceeding as if it is going in the proper order. The financial hardship of the error is not a factor in the granting of the variances. Instead, the board must follow the balancing test applied for the granting of area variances.
The balancing test considers the following five criteria:
- Whether it causes a negative change to the character of the neighborhood or a detriment to nearby properties.
- Whether there are other alternatives to achieve the same goal.
- Whether the requested area variances are substantial. Substantial can be mathematical or a substantial change in the character of the neighborhood.
- Whether there will be a negative impact on the physical or environmental conditions of the neighborhood or district.
- Whether the difficulty is self-created.
The public hearing was opened at 7:30 pm.
Kevin Marsh, 79 North Road:
- He can see part of the building from his house.
- The location of the house is not a big deal.
- He doesn’t understand why we have all these issues.
- He is in favor of the project.
- He thinks the house will fit into the neighborhood and it looks like it will be beautiful.
- His only concern is that they are building near farms and he wants them to be aware.
- The house size seems ok for that size lot.
Chair Tyler suggested that Kevin Marsh attend the public hearing for the Planning Board to weigh in on issues concerning shielding the residential property from the farming operations as they might relate to the site plan.
Duncan Roy, 18 North Road:
- Asked if the front set back is measured from the beginning of the flag or the street. It is measured from the beginning of the flag.
- Questioned the erroneous granting of the building permit for the foundation.
- He’s in favor of the project.
- Village needs to be responsible for the erroneous building permit.
- These are the kind of people we want in the Village.
- Disagreed with the review of the style of the house. The design of the house is not his business.
Chair Tyler stated that the error made by the building and zoning office was not a matter for the ZBA.
Tim Lynch, 5171 Route 9G:
- Did not see a building permit in the Village building file.
- Character of the neighborhood is described by the zoning ordinances and therefore they should be followed.
- The goal of the code is to achieve smaller houses that are closer to the road.
- Comparing the house to existing development is not relevant.
- Potential is there for a negative change to the character of the neighborhood.
- One can’t consider the error in the granting of the permit as alleviating the need to look at alternatives. There are other alternatives.
- All the requests are substantial.
- Potential negative impact on environment must be presumed to be positive.
- These are self-created.
- Recommends that the Board deny the variances.
- See document attached.
Jake Stortini, 3 Feroe Avenue:
- Wishes he could see their house from the road rather than others on North Road.
- He had a similar experience with Steve Cole of getting a building permit and then being told he needed to go for a site plan review three months later.
- He is in favor of the project.
- Doesn’t see why the flag lot is a problem.
- There are other homes that size in the area.
- Mr. Lynch’s house is farther back from the street than 800 feet.
- He sees no problem with this house. He likes the look of the proposed house.
Chair Tyler stated that Tim Lynch’s house is in a different zoning district.
Katharine Millonzi, Kidd Lane:
- Wants to support them as a character reference.
- Is in favor of their future home.
Chair Tyler stated that the variances go with the property not the applicants.
Karen Cleaveland read the letter from Louise Dewhirst and Daniel Akst which is attached.
Karen Cleaveland moved to close the public hearing at 7:57 pm. Bob Zises seconded. All in favor. Motion carried.
Chair Tyler proposed considering the three variances that relate to the size of the house together, those being the variances for the size of the footprint, the total square footage of the house and the width of the house, and the variance for the front set-back separately. The Board first discussed the requested area variances relating to the size of the house.
These are their findings for the variances for footprint, building size and the width of the building:
Whereas, the project will not create a negative change to the neighborhood for the following reasons:
- This is an established non-conforming, buildable, flag lot which is an aberration to our current code and as such the house cannot be sited near the street. The pole of the flag lot is over 400 feet long.
- Due to the distance from the street, approximately 800 feet, the house is not a part of the visible streetscape.
- The size of the parcel, 2.4 acres in R1A zoning, is 140 percent more than required and can support and conceal the house from the historic streetscape.
- The design of the house which is to be barn like and of colors that will not stand out from the landscape is a positive contribution to the character of the neighborhood.
Whereas, there are no negative physical or environmental changes created by increasing the size of the house as requested.
Whereas, while the variances requested for the size of the footprint and the width of the house are respectively a 29% and 27% increase and the variance requested for the size of the house is a 48% increase, the board does not find the variances to be substantial. Although the size of the house especially can be viewed as mathematically substantial, the board considers the change as it relates to the character of the neighborhood and the intent of the Historic Overlay District to be insubstantial. The house will not be a part of the streetscape and as evidenced through photographs without leaf cover, through a site visit, and in the report from Michelle Greig to the Planning Board, the proposed house will not be “highly visible” from the street.
Whereas, although there are alternatives to the requested larger house and the requested variances are desired and therefore are a self created difficulty, the board feels these factors are outweighed by the other criteria.
Therefore be it resolved that the variances for the size of the foot print, 2259 sq. ft., the size of the building, 3847 sq. ft., and the width of the building, 61 feet, be granted.
Bob Zises moved to grant the variance for the 2259 square foot footprint, the variance for the building size of 3847 square feet and width of the building of 61 feet. Karen Cleaveland seconded. All in favor. Motion carried.
These are their findings for the setback variance:
Whereas, the requested variance creates no negative change to the character of the neighborhood for the same reasons as listed for the other three variances.
Whereas, there are alternatives, but the site is being selected for topographic reasons (it is at a higher elevation on the site), and none of the alternatives are in the spirit of the Historic Overlay district as they are all located on the flag of the parcel over 400 feet from the street.
Whereas, the request is substantial, mathematically as a 300 % increase, it is not substantial as the building relates to the street. As it is on a non-conforming flag lot, there is no way to site the house 40 to 70 feet from the street and because the pole of the flag lot is already six times the maximum front set back for a parcel with conforming lot width at the street, the additional front set back within the flag of the parcel is insubstantial in comparison to the length of the pole.
Whereas, there is no negative physical or environmental impact. The house site has been surveyed and found to be outside of the LC district and is not located in any of the other setbacks.
Whereas, the difficulty is self-created.
Therefore, although there are alternate sites and the difficulty is self-created, those criteria are far, far outweighed by the fact that the property is already a flag lot, the flag opens over 400 feet from the road and the character of the neighborhood will be unaffected. Therefore be it resolved that we grant this variance.
Jonathan Trombly moved to grant the variance for a 280 foot setback. Bob Zises seconded. All in favor. Motion carried.
Jonathan Trombly moved to adjourn the meeting at 9:01 pm. Karen Cleaveland seconded. All in favor. Motion carried.
Planning and Zoning Clerk