Siena seeks variance

Siena College will seek a variance to recently interpreted town code that put four proposed 90-foot light towers 50 feet above town height limitations.

Last week, town planners approved the college's new athletic field proposal with four-40-foot light poles as allowed under current town regulations. However, to meet NCAA regulations for a Division 1 school, the college must install 90-foot poles to provide adequate lighting.

To the chagrin of near by residents, it will seek a variance to do so through the Zoning Board of Appeals.

The light poles are an essential part of this field, said Robert Sweeney, the attorney representing the college as it wades through the planning process. "forty-foot light poles don't do it for us. It is our intension to seek a variance for the 90-foot poles. If we don't do this now we loose a construction season."

After the college was told in March that the poles were acceptable as an accessory to the proposed field by the town's building department the college moved on financing the project with the hopes to have it built before the upcoming athletic season.

Bonds were issued by the state Dormitory Authority and were then sold to finance the project, said Sweeney. In the final minutes of a two and a half hour long planning board meeting on May 16, the college's proposal halted as a town attorney opinion contradicted the building department's decision two months prior. That opinion held and Siena's towers were considered structures, rather than accessories, as such they are subject to town code that prohibits structures over 40-feet tall.

Clough Harbour and Associates, the engineering firm that designed the proposal did not alter the plan from previous meeting with planners. The only change came in the form of four-40-foot towers, rather than the preferred 90-feet.

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