::Update February 6, 2018 9:30am::
Please note that the Verizon application will remain tabled on February 7, 2018, and will not be returned to the agenda until at least March 7, 2018.
ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS
Notice is hereby given that the Zoning Board of Appeals of the City of Jamestown, New York, will hold a Public Hearing on Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 3:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers, Municipal Building, 200 E. 3rd Street, Jamestown, New York to consider the following:
1. The petition of Danton Hilldale, 34 Royal Avenue, Jamestown, New York 14701, for a use variance to continue to operate 115 Wilton Avenue, parcel 404.06-7-6, as a two-family residence. (Section 300-0305, R-1 Single Family Residential. The first district for a two family is R-2 Two Family Residential District.)
2. The petition of Jared C. Lusk, Partner, Nixon, Peabody, LLP Attorneys for Bell Atlantic Mobile Systems of Allentown, Inc., d/b/a Verizon Wireless, 1300 Clinton Square, Rochester, New York 14604-1792 for a use and area variance to install a 100’ wireless telecommunications tower adjacent to 40 Hallock Street, on parcel 387.13-9-1, owned by Chandler Street Baptist Church in a R-1 Zone. (Section 300-0216, Cellular Phone Towers: Cellular Phone Towers are only permitted in a “C” and “M” District, the proposed is in an R-1 District; Cellular Phone Towers shall not exceed 60’ in height from the ground; the proposed is 100’ in height).
Notice is further given that persons in interest will be given an opportunity to be heard for or against the granting of the foregoing petition by the Zoning Board of Appeals at the time and place above mentioned.
Todd M. Thomas
Zoning Board of Appeals
Publication Date: January 24, 2018
Zoning Board of Appeals —- Proceedings by Authority
State of New York,
City of Jamestown, ss:
The regular meeting of the Zoning Board of Appeals of the City of Jamestown, New York, was held on Wednesday, February 7, 2018 at 3:30 p.m.
Members Present: Ellen Ditonto, Richard Hanson, Sally Martinez, Patricia Calanni, Peter Larson, Jim Olson
Members Absent: Judith Sandson
Others Present: Larry Scalise
Mrs. Ditonto called the meeting to order.
Mrs. Ditonto: When we have the petition read, the person who is going to be representing the petitioner, or the petitioner themselves, will come to the microphone here at the table below, state your name and full home address each time that you would like to speak. The petitioner has the opportunity to further give us information on the petition request. There is also time for the public to speak as well and that allows them to go to the microphone to your right and my left, state your name and home address. You have up to five minutes to speak on the petition either in favor or in opposition to. Your comments must be addressed to the petition itself.
DANTON HILLDALE 115 WILTON AVENUE 404.06-7-6
The petition of Danton Hilldale, 34 Royal Avenue, Jamestown, New York 14701, for a use variance to continue to operate 115 Wilton Avenue, parcel 404.06-7-6, as a two-family residence. (Section 300-0305, R-1 Single Family Residential. The first district for a two family is R-2 Two Family Residential District.)
Mrs. Ditonto: Thank you. Would you like to identify yourself? Home address and name, please.
Mr. Hilldale: My name is Danton J. Hilldale. I reside at 34 Royal Avenue, Jamestown, New York.
Mrs. Ditonto: Thank you Mr. Hilldale. Just one other housekeeping item; when there is a petition request, it takes four affirmative votes to have anything approved by the zoning board and so at this point, we will ask you to give us any further information that you think would help support your petition and then we’ll open it up to the board for questions.
Mr. Hilldale: I do have some things here; copies about what I have to say. I have been aware of this residence for over fifty years. My mother, in the mid-60’s, purchased the house next door to this and during the last fifty-some years, that house has been used, maybe not continuously, but has been used many of the years as a two-family house. I would go over to my mother’s every morning and she would tell me that a new couple moved in next door, upstairs or downstairs and this went on and on for years and years. So, when I went to purchase it, the summary for the advertisement for purchase said that it was a large one-family home or a two-family home. So, with my past knowledge, I figured that there was no question that it could be used as a two-family house. So, that’s what I wanted to continue to do. I have a picture there of the house in question and on the second sheet, I just jotted down some numbers that I’m aware of. If I was to rent out the first floor, as a two-bedroom apartment, I would realize $6,600.00 a year. From that, I would have to subtract the taxes and insurances and that would bring it down to $3,600.00 that I could use to maintain and try to improve the residence. If I can’t get it to a two-family or leave it as a two-family, I would just go ahead and use the one floor and not put any more money into the house by remodeling the upstairs. What I really want to do, is to remodel both floors and make that the nicest two-family house on the street. But, I can’t do it unless I rent two apartments. The last sheet is a picture of a house that I bought two or three years ago on Lovall Avenue that was condemned, as well as this one was, and I just wanted you to see the pictures of the house. When I got it, I had already done some painting on the trim and changed the windows in the before picture, but the final house, I made it look much better in the neighborhood and everybody in that neighborhood thanked me for buying that house and upgrading it to the position that it’s in. I would like to do that same type of thing for this house on Wilton Avenue. But, I need it to be a two-family in order to carry out my desires.
Mrs. Ditonto: Thank you Mr. Hilldale. At this point, we’ll open this up for questions from members of the zoning board.
Ms. Martinez: You said there are other two-family houses on the street?
Mr. Hilldale: Yes.
Ms. Martinez: Do you know how many?
Mr. Hilldale: I think there’s at least three on the street. There are two right across the street from this one.
Ms. Martinez: And they’re all in good condition?
Mr. Hilldale: I would say in fair to good condition. But, I would want this one to be the best one.
Mr. Olson: Mr. Hilldale, does the property have two electric meters? Has it always had two electric meters?
Mr. Hilldale: No. I assumed – it had two gas meters. A harness for two gas meters on it and I just assumed that with so much involved in rewiring the whole house, that they decided to split the electric bill and that they had separate gas.
Mr. Olson: Thank you.
Mr. Hilldale: They have a gas heater upstairs that I would be getting rid of and changing to a better system.
Mr. Olson: Thank you.
Mrs. Ditonto: Other questions from members of the board?
Mr. Larson: Sir, you said this house was condemned as well when you bought it? Is it still condemned at the moment and would it would it require more work?
Mr. Hilldale: I have to do some more work before they can take the condemnation off.
Mrs. Ditonto: Mr. Hilldale, can you tell us when you purchased it, it looks like according to the Chautauqua County GIS, that it still belonged to the HUD office in April of 2017. Is that when you purchased it?
Mr. Hilldale: No. I purchased it in October 2017.
Mrs. Ditonto: Did you check the filing that showed that it was a single-family residence? And it shows it only has one kitchen. I think part of the argument that you made is that there are two kitchens in this?
Mr. Hilldale: There are two kitchens in it; there’s a kitchen upstairs and a kitchen downstairs. And the kitchen upstairs has cupboards in it that are similar to cupboards that were built in the 50s. So, I’m sure that that’s been used since the 50s as a two-family. Remember the old metal cabinets with the kitchen sink on it? It has a metal cabinet with a kitchen sink on it that goes back to the 50s as well. So, it’s been used as a two-family for 50 years at least I think; just illegally. What I’m trying to do is make it legal.
Mrs. Ditonto: Any other questions from members of the board?
Ms. Martinez: It would be nice if there was a list of both floors with whatever was on it. All you did was show us the first level.
Mrs. Ditonto: I can share with you the Chautauqua County GIS listing and we can have it read into the record, but it does indicate it’s a one-family home with one kitchen and three bedrooms total. I think you said there were two bedrooms on the first floor and two on the second?
Mr. Hilldale: No. Right now, there are two bedrooms on the second floor, a living room and a kitchen.
Ms. Martinez: And no bathroom.
Mr. Hilldale: And a bathroom. On the first floor, there’s a bathroom, a kitchen, a dining room, a large living room and one bedroom. The living room goes the full width of the house. That could be separated into a two-bedroom and a smaller living room.
Ms. Calanni: It looks like there’s a two-car garage. It looks like there’s more parking in the driveway.
Mr. Hilldale: There’s a two-car garage that’s unattached. At this time, I can’t get insurance on it because the roof is so bad. They won’t insure it. So, my first job is to, when the weather breaks, put0 a new roof on the garage to get that insured as well. This is a very large lot next to the garage. That’s 150 feet wide; the lot. It’s a big yard.
Ms. Calanni: So, would you plan on one of those parking spaces be for each apartment?
Mr. Hilldale: Yes.
Mrs. Ditonto: Mr. Hilldale, did you purchase this from the county auction or from a private…
Mr. Hilldale: No, I went through Turner Realty and I purchased it through them. That’s the ad that you see on the first page of my summary. That’s from Turner Realty.
Mr. Olson: Todd or Larry, did you check Dick Holtz’s old property record cards as to whether or not he ever just had it as a single-family down there or is it a two-family back on the old ones that they put away?
Mr. Scalise: I didn’t go into the old ones. I went into the RPS and it said single-family and that’s what I told him; that’s his only option would be to come before the board.
Mr. Olson: Yes. I’m just curious what Dick’s old notes would have shown on the old ones that they keep in the back that he would have had. Because that would have been back from whenever that would have been established. Thanks.
Mrs. Ditonto: Any other questions from members of the board? Seeing none, this is the time when we allow the public to address the board on the petition, either in favor or in opposition to the petition request. Please go to the microphone at my left, your right. If you wish to speak, you have to state your name and home address.
Mr. Anderson: My name is David Anderson. I live at 126 Wilton Avenue. Two or three houses down from the property in question and across the street. I’ve lived at that residence for 42 years. I’ve seen a lot of changes in the neighborhood over the years. That house was Mr. and Mrs. Franchina’s house; he was a barber in town. When Mr. Franchina passed away, Mrs. Franchina lived there for a few more years. Mr. Hilldale is correct; from what I understand from neighborhood lore, the Franchinas had a cousin or a brother from the old country that moved here that they put a sink and a kitchen upstairs so that he could live above them. So, at that time, it was an owner-occupied, functionally two-family house.
I am not here today to criticize Mr. Hilldale in any way, shape or form. I don’t know his track record whatsoever, but I’m here to urge the zoning board to, please, not make another two-family residence on Wilton Avenue. Wilton’s a funny little street. It runs to Sampson. It drives the pizza delivery people crazy because then it stops and continues on Chautauqua for one more block. So, there are a couple more houses on Wilton that nobody knows where they’re located. I would just disagree with Mr. Hilldale in the sense that we have a two-family two houses down from us toward Sampson, away from Forest, and that lady is the neighborhood hero because she took that two-family house and moved in. She lives in the lower floor, has put a tremendous amount of time and effort and resources into that house and her son and daughter-in-law and granddaughter live upstairs. So, that’s an owner-occupied two-family house. The house across from Mr. Hilldale is a terrible, terrible two-family house. That man has been one step in front of the inspectors and the regulators for the last four or five years. We’ve had residents come and go. The residents and the renters have begged and pleaded with him to fix the house up. He does it at the very last minute with the city and whoever else’s hands around his neck. We’re very, very unhappy. The police have been over there many times. Mr. Hilldale’s house he’s looking at ended up being a functioning two-family house because the Franchinas passed away. The previous owner was in trouble with the police. He had addiction problems and the house became, as you well know, it was in the paper several times. It became a meth house. The police were there once and cleared those people out. It happened a second time. The homeowner pleaded that he knew nothing of the fact that there was illegal activity going on in the house and all of this and the neighbor had a good laugh over that, but we were very concerned that we had a meth house in the neighborhood. I don’t know the third two-family that Mr. Hilldale would be referring to, those were the only two two-families that I know of on that house. The house across from him was Chuck Pillsbury’s house and again, he had relatives that would live upstairs and he lived there. For many, many years, Mrs. Jackson’s house down the street and Mr. Pillsbury’s house were owner-occupied two-family houses.
I think it – it worries me and I know the city leaders have tried really hard in terms of neighborhood rehabilitation. A big part of it, statistically, is our absentee landlords for two-family houses. What upsets me and worries me is the legal precedence that if this becomes a two-family, there’s nothing to stop Mr. Hilldale, no matter how nicely he fixes up the house, if he decides to sell it one day, we’re going right back into this cycle again. Many of us in the neighborhood, Mr. Thomas couldn’t be here today, he lives across the street, next door to me felt the same way. I don’t have any deposition from him, but I went over to his house. He has the flu and is sick. Mr. Guarino is here that lives next door, but a lot of us in the neighborhood would urge you, please do not change this to a two-family because again, we have in the past had very good luck with the families that live there in the bottom floor and they rent the upper floor, but when we have, as we mentioned, the house across from the house that Mr. Hilldale has purchased, the landlord lives in Jamestown, but it’s a terrible situation.
Mrs. Ditonto: Thank you Mr. Anderson. Your five minutes are up. Thank you very much. Is there anyone else in the audience who would like to speak on this petition? Please go to the microphone, state your name and home address and limit your remarks to five minutes.
Mr. Guarino: My name is Michael Guarino. I’m at 127 Wilton and I did call in earlier and talked to a gentleman here. I echo what Mr. Anderson said. The problem is that, primarily, it’s a very nice neighborhood. Wilton Avenue is blessed with having a lot of good, one-family homes on the whole street. Our experience with two-family homes, as Mr. Anderson said, has not been good when the owners don’t live in them. Then they get messy yards, they get messy porches and they turn into problems for all of us. We don’t need anymore of that up there. As I mentioned, Wilton is a nice area. I’ve been there 45 years. The house that we’re talking about was owned by Mr. Franchina. That upstairs area where there is a kitchen and bath was done when his brother came from Italy. He would come every year or every other year to visit and he would stay with the family. That’s why that was put up there. But, it was never rented as a two-family and never used as a two-family other than for family of the owner who came to stay there. And that was it. I echo what Mr. Anderson said. We’d like to keep the neighborhood the way it is. We don’t really want any more two-families up there. It may be that it turns out that it would be wonderfully well and everybody would be great that lived there, but don’t make us take the chance of having what we’ve had in the past. We just don’t need it. Thank you very much.
Mrs. Ditonto: Thank you, Mr. Guarino.
Mr. Hilldale: Am I allowed to respond?
Mrs. Ditonto: You may only speak to the board, sir. You need to state your name and address again and you can speak to the board.
Mr. Hilldale: I agree wholeheartedly with these gentlemen that we want to have a wonderful neighborhood up there. I’ve been involved in that neighborhood since the mid-60s when my mother bought the place and I remodeled her house up there. I know that one of the gentlemen here, he’s had his house up for sale for at least a year next door to this place. And it’s not true that it’s only been used as a family dwelling over the last fifty years. There have been two apartments there. They had been rented out. Whether, I guess it was illegal to do what they were doing, but they weren’t relatives living in that same house. What I’m trying to do is to improve the neighborhood. I’m not trying to bring that neighborhood down. I am not going to stand by and let somebody use my property and destroy it and be an eyesore for that neighborhood. There are a lot of lovely people in the city of Jamestown and they can no longer take care of a house and they do rent from landlords that do take great care of their properties. You can look at any of the houses that I have here in town, they’re mostly single houses, but I keep them up. They’re better now than they were when I bought them; every one of them. And I assure these people that this will become one of the nicest houses on the street. And I have a tenant that rents one of my houses now that, she’s older now, she doesn’t want a full house, she wants an apartment. She’s all ready. She told me that she wants to move from one of my houses to the first floor of that house. It’s a single lady, probably around fifty years old; a very nice person.
Mrs. Ditonto: At this point, we would be looking to see if there’s anybody else in the audience who wishes to speak for or against the petition. Seeing no one, we’ll close the public portion of the meeting. Are there any further questions from members of the board?
Ms. Martinez: Is there correspondence?
Mrs. Ditonto: Is there correspondence?
Mr. Thomas: The only correspondence we had was from Mr. Guarino who left a message in case he was not able to attend, but as he was here, it mirrored the comments he made.
Mrs. Ditonto: Thank you. Any other questions?
Ms. Martinez: I have a question for Larry. Larry, could the downstairs be combined in to two? Have the living room divided into two bedrooms. Does it meet code?
Mr. Scalise: There’s a possibility. I would have to look at it; egress windows, size of the room. Without knowing the property, it could possibly.
Ms. Martinez: So, you haven’t toured it. You haven’t had a chance to tour it.
Mr. Scalise: No.
Mr. Hilldale: One other comment, if I may. It has nothing to do with the house. But, I know Mr. Guarino. He probably doesn’t remember me, but I graduated with his wife and had his son as a student; a very capable young man.
Mrs. Ditonto: Thank you. We have to keep the comments just to the petition, but thank you very much for that. At this point, I think we’re just looking for clarification from Larry. Again, this is all zoned R-1 in this area. There is an owner-occupied two-family home across the street from this property according to the petitioner. Do you know about that?
Mr. Scalise: I don’t know. I did not do any research on that. I apologize. In that neighborhood, I know there are various locations, the number and intensity, I can’t say.
Mrs. Ditonto: And the fact is, this was a condemned property at the time that it was purchased in October of 2017. So, you must have condemned it or somebody in the city.
Mr. Scalise: One of the housing inspectors would have. I am not familiar with the property, but a condemned sign goes up if there’s no electoral, structural issues, a variety of reasons, we’ll put that on there just so we can get with the owner that purchases it to make sure they will bring it into full compliance.
Mr. Anderson: Madame Chair, that property across from the said property is not owner-occupied. Down the street is owner-occupied. We’re very, very happy with that situation; the owner lives there.
Mrs. Ditonto: Thank you for clarifying that. At this point, we’d be looking for a motion on the petition of Danton Hilldale for a use variance to change the property at 115 Wilton Avenue from a one-family residence that is listed in the GIS system to a two-family residence. Is there anyone who would like to make a motion?
Mr. Olson made a motion to deny the petition. Seconded by Mr. Larson.
Carried: 3 ayes – 3 nays (Calanni, Martinez, Hanson)
Mrs. Ditonto: There is a 3-3 tie. That means that the petition cannot be approved at this point. It takes four affirmative votes as I said at the start of the meeting. At this point, you can talk to Mr. Scalise to see if there’s anything you could do, but it would maintain as a one-family property at 115 Wilton Avenue.
There being no further business, the meeting was adjourned.
Todd M. Thomas, Secretary
Zoning Board of Appeals