continued Zoning Board members said they believe the portion of the town code referring to adaptive reuse was poorly written However, the majority of members felt the code stipulated the only properties in a core residential area that could be converted to non-residential use are those on a state or county highway, and the statute had been included so as not to change a neighborhood’s characteristics.
Board member George Harder felt differently.
“The way (the code) is written currently only defines what a new use can exist as,” he said. “It doesn’t stop a non-residential structure from changing to another non-residential structure. Footnote 12 only refers to a residential structure turning into a non-residential structure and the requirements thereof, so I believe the school district has interpreted correctly to an extent.”
With that, the district’s request for an adaptive reuse interpretation failed by a 4-1 vote. The board unanimously voted against the district’s request for a use variance.
To obtain a use variance, the district had to prove a lack of return on investment, that the hardship to the property was unique, that the use variance would not alter the character of the neighborhood and the alleged hardship was not self created.
Most board members agreed that the hardship was unique and the school district did not create the problem, but said the sale would change the neighborhood’s character, mostly due to traffic. Some also felt the district missed out on an opportunity to sell the property to another potential buyer by not asking the town’s Industrial Development Agency for a tax break because of the “effort.”
The building was vacated by staff last April and has since been “mothballed.” District officials said companies had scouted the building with an eye towards converting it to office space or medical building, but potential buyers felt it would take too much effort. The property is also too large to reasonably be turned into the site of a house.