Washington St. Approved
Planning Board Approves Scaled Down Plans
Story by John Thomas
Developer Phil Vogt submitted revised plans to the Village Planning Board nearly eliminating all the changes he had planned for the building. Gone is the third story he had planned to add, so too the stairwell/elevator shaft planned for the rear of the building. Also gone the balcony he had planned to extend over the sidewalk on Washington, and the plan to put a restaurant in the structure. Left intact will be the alpine style roof on the front of the building, which Mr. Vogt said he would have removed. He still plans to build a 20×24 foot deck off the rear of the edifice, at the second story level. Underneath it would be a patio. Consulting attorney Daniel Spitzer said the changes would bring the project into FAR (Floor Area Ratio) compliance. The AC units will be on the roof of the building and hidden by a parapet. He added the changes turned the project into a rehab, and the only approvals Vogt needs is a Site Plan Review, Architectural Design Reivew, SEQR and Historical Overlay District review. But despite the enthusiasm the board felt for the changes, there was still an objection.
Bob Kane is a former Planning Board member who lives in the Arlington Arms condo facility on Monroe. He said the building was built in 1890 as a hotel, had been converted to apartments, and in 1986 turned into condos. He said the building is very exclusive, the owners are very quiet and respect the Village. In the back of the units is a secluded area surrounded by a fence for a hot tub. The closest corner of the second story deck on 23 Washington will come within about 9 feet of the cosseted corner of the fence line. The deck will be about 12 feet in the air and will look directly down, over the privacy fence and into the hot tub area. There was a suggestion to raise the top of the fence, but it is currently at its legal maximum height. Village Planner Gary Palumbo reviewed the setbacks and lot lines, and said Vogt’s planned deck meets the setback requirements. Acting Board Chair Shelia Burrell explained, “We are working within the parameters of the law.” Mr. Spitzer felt the plans should move forward, adding “This applicant has worked with you for a number of months.” A motion was passed to issue a Negative Declaration on the SEQR (no environmental impact).
The Board went over the Architectural Review and found the plans were consistent with the Historical District standards; there is no change in the character of the building. All the renovations are at the rear of the building, and the new brick will match the old brick. Mr. Spitzer recommended a condition that the developer notify the owners of the adjacent building of his construction plans. Sign applications will be filed as the building gets tenants. Vogt will have to have his plans stamped by a structural engineer. A motion was made to approve the application with the conditions the board specified. The motion passed.
Earlier in the meeting the Board held three public hearings for previous applications. The first was for Darlene Allen at 11 Rockwell to establish a home business. The second for lawyer John Nelson to move his office into the old Ellicottville Inn. And the last for a couple at 16 Rockwell to have an apartment on the second floor of their garage. In all three public hearings, there were no objections from the floor, and the hearing were quickly closed.
The Board went into regular session to make decisions on the applications. Gary Palumbo went over the application for 11 Rockwell. He said the project was a home business in health consulting, and all criteria had been met. There will be no change in the appearance of the home, there is sufficient off-street parking, and there will be no outdoor display or storage of product. The Board declared a negative SEQR, and approved the application provided Ms. Allen continues to meet the home business criteria. They considered the special use permit and architectural review of John Nelson’s plan to move his office into the former restaurant area of the Inn. The building is in the Historical Overlay, and considerations about the preservation of the character of the building apply. Mr. Nelson will update some of the doors and windows, including some original windows that had been bricked over. The changes are at the rear of the building and the character of the old hotel will be unchanged. He plans to install an awning that will match the ones on the front.
The board also considered the special use permit and architectural review for 16 Rockwell. Here the Board had some objections. Apparently, the owners did not realize that receiving an area variance from the ZBA did not mean they could start construction on the accessory apartment. They still needed the special use permit and site plan review to obtain the building permit. They started work on the apartment conversion. Last weekend they were served with a stop order from the building inspector. Board member Jack Kramer, who lives on Rockwell, said he had heard rumors more than one apartment was being created in the building. The owners said they were converting the attached garage to a bedroom, and a single apartment was being built upstairs. They are also remodeling the interior of the home, and received a building permit for that work. Mr. Kramer said he felt the board should table the discussion for a month to find out what was really going on. The couple protested, saying they wanted to order siding and windows, and if they had to delay the order they couldn’t get as good a price. Another issue is the home is currently in a flood plain, which could make them change their plans. Currently, they have applied to have FEMA redraw the flood plain, taking the home out of it. But they may not have a decision for months. Their engineer, Aaron Tiller, said either way the plans could be modified to make the garage compliant. In the end the Board decided to table the plans for a month and suggested the couple attend the July working session to make their plans clear. “This means we’re stopped,” the gentleman said and the couple left the meeting.