Re-zoning issues linger in Granville

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The mansion (former Masonic Temple)

By Doug La Rocque

NYVT Media

GRANVILLE – Two structures located very close to one another were again the subject of a possible rezoning and a question of ownership.

The first, at 43 West Main St. at the intersection with South Maple Street, is commonly referred to as “the mansion.” The new owner, Peter Stefanopoulos, would like to convert the building to an event space, to host such things as wedding receptions, banquets etc. His problem is that the structure is actually zoned as residential, meaning such uses are not permitted. According to Stefanopoulos, the zoning map shows some are the area is classified as business-residential, but he says that permitted use actually stops right at the gate to his property. He is asking the village to extend the business-residential to cover his property and a neighboring lot.

Trustee Dean Hyatt has reservations. He feels when the last zoning changes were put into place, it was done based on the village’s comprehensive plan and feels any change might be a disservice to area residents. Trustee Denise Davies made note there are already many non-conforming uses in the neighborhood, such as two and three-family homes. Deputy Mayor Gordie Smith countered these were in place before the zoning changes were put in place, and thus are “grandfathered in”, making such use legal.

Parking is an issue

Smith voiced his concerns over parking, if such a change were to be approved. He contends there just isn’t enough to accommodate an event space. Mayor Paul Labas indicated that Stefanopoulos plans to purchase an adjoining property that is currently vacant, raze the building and create sufficient additional parking.

As was discussed at the board’s May meeting, if such a change in zoning were to be entertained, would it be initiated by the village board or go through the planning and zoning boards of appeal for a variance. The decision was made to send it to the planning board for comment.

Selling the old firehouse

The other structure of concern is the former Henry Hose fire house, at the point between Quaker and West Main Streets. The Granville Engine and Hose Company would like to sell it, but the question who actually owns the building was raised at the board’s May meeting with the debate continuing at the June 3 session. According to village attorney Michael Martin, the question is whether the Henry Hose company was incorporated through the village. If so, he told the May board meeting that the village would actually, by law, own the structure. Mayor Labas was asking at the current meeting, if the bylaws from Henry Hose are available to hopefully clear the matter up.

Fire Chief Mike Zinn contends the fire company does own the building and when Granville’s two previous departments merged it was so stated in the agreement. During public comment, Kathy Juckett said a title search was most likely done at the time and she believes that would have turned up any discrepancy in the ownership.

The board, to a member, made it clear they are not desirous of ownership, and noted the building is apparently being used. Deputy Mayor Smith said to him it was a matter of liability, if the village is indeed the owner. The village plans to review the bylaws, which are apparently available, and hopes to resolve the matter sooner than later.

Zombies beware

The village is continuing its quest to rid the streets of properties, the owners of which are sometimes in question, and often become a sanctuary for squatters. Mayor Labas, indicating they have evicted illegal occupants from two buildings of late, with a bank that owns one of the buildings actually stepping into clean it up. He was full of praise for Codes Enforcement Officer Curt Pedone, who he says is doing a great job tracking the missing property owners. When these structures are foreclosed on, the title is often sold between banks, making it difficult to locate the responsible party.

The meeting also saw a number of year end budget transfers (a village’s fiscal year runs from June 1 to May 31). The village police department was busy in May, with 107 reported incidents, and all the monthly water testing came back satisfactory, allowing Mayor Labas to again proclaim, “our water is safe to drink.”