A public hearing for the rezoning of family style apartments in the Town of Rotterdam has created a range of different opinions, with town board and local school officials weighing in on the issue at 7 p.m. on March 23.
The meeting of the Town of Rotterdam will include a public hearing to discuss a proposed amendment to property on 325 Duanesburg Road, owned by Sync Realty Group, Inc. The owners are requesting a change of zoning from light industrial to multiple family residential. The property, a former army base, was bought by Sync Realty in 2008 at a Federal Government auction for $1.8 million, according to information provided by Rotterdam Town Supervisor Frank Del Gallo. According to the information, Sync Realty was told by town building department officials that the apartments were a permitted use for the property. After town building inspectors looked at the property, and violations regarding fire alarms were fixed by the owner, the owner began to rent out the properties. In August of 2008, Sync Realty was sent a letter from the Rotterdam Building Inspector Mickey Maher stating that the use of property as apartments was illegal. After appealing the decsison to the Zoning Board of Appeals for the Town of Rotterdam, with the board siding with the town, Sync appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of the State of New York, who upheld the decision.
Former Town Attorney and current Town of Rotterdam Board member, Republican Gerard Parisi, said in a release the former administration worked to enforce the laws of the town among all residents and not only those who `carry political clout.` According to Parisi, the planning board for the town issued a recommendation against Sync’s change of zone request, citing structural and safety concerns and believes that the move by the town board to hold the public hearing in regards to the property is a return to political favors for campaign contributions.
`The motives behind this property and this new board in granting this zone change is suspicious,` said Parisi. `My fear is that this new board is not listening to any concerns of the residents.` In the release, Parisi states that the criticism is not aimed at any political party, but a system `that lingers in Rotterdam politics.`
During the 2009 election, Sync Realty Group gave $1000 to the `Revitalize Rotterdam,` campaign. A contribution that Del Gallo said does not carry any weight in his decision for the public hearing or any future resolution.
`You can’t buy me for $1000, you cant buy me for a million,` said Del Gallo. `If someone thinks they can buy me, they’ve got the wrong guy.`
Del Gallo said after inspecting the apartments himself that they are respectable and well worth the price asked by the owners. `I don’t have a problem with the place at all,` said Del Gallo. `As far as I’m concerned there is nothing wrong with the place.`
Mohonasen Superintendent of Schools, Kathleen Spring, also contacted Del Gallo about the change in zoning and the renting of the apartments. In a March 2 letter, Spring points to the students who are enrolled in the Mohonasen District that reside at the apartments and concern of the living conditions of the apartments, calls to the Rotterdam Police department and an increase in need for special needs among 46 percent of the students at the complex. According to the letter, of 57 students-aged children at the apartment, 31 are enrolled, with 7 in pre-K, 46 percent of the students are identified as students with special needs, which the distirct estimates to increase the budget by $420,000.Also, according to Spring, a FOIL of Rotterdam police records showed that the police has been called to the property 100 times over 2009.
`Certainly, the change in zoning on this property would
have long-term, permanent impact on the district,` said Spring in the letter. `As resources become increasingly sparse, these costs will add to the burden that the district has to shift to the taxpayer, something that we have always been very cautious of doing whenever possible.`
Del Gallo said that the students on the property have the same education rights as any other student in the district. Del Gallo also said that after touring the apartments, he understands why Sync has not put any more money into the apartments until they know what they will be doing with the property, and would vote in favor of the zone change.
`I understand not putting any money into it [the property] until they know where they’re going with it,` said Del Gallo. `As far as I’m concerned, what I’ve seen I liked, but I’m only one member of the board. I can’t make the decision for everyone but I can for myself.`
The town board meets at 7 p.m. at the Rotterdam Town Hall.