City Approves Zone Change; Holds Off On Permit Decision

FULTON, NY – The Family Video Store has received a green light on a zone change request from the city of Fulton that clears one hurdle for its business plans for the corners of West First and Broadway.

The decision on a second hurdle needed for the plan is up in the air.

</p>The Fulton Common Council approved a controversial zone change request this week, changing a residential parcel on West First to commercial space. The change was requested as one of the prerequisites to the sale of the former First Congregational Church.

Family Video Store is working to buy the church, the parsonage and two residences along the strip. Its business plan will take down the properties to construct a Family Video Outlet Store.

For several weeks, residents have balked at the change and debated the loss of the historical church property.

Speaking in favor of the zone change this week, resident Dennis Merlino said that letting the church fall into disrepair for years, rather than finding a use for the property and holding onto the memory of the church in its heyday.

“My concern is for this church’s ability to be a beacon… the time has come,” Merlino said.

“They have tried to make it (a historic site) twice,” he added. “It didn’t happen. It’s not going to happen. The church’s future is dilapidation. I don‘t want to see that building slowly decaying.”

Merlino defended that the plans for the church property fit into the goals of the comprehensive plan. He suggested that the new owner could put up a plaque or historical marker commemorating the church.

Jan Mileskey, a church elder, said that no one took the closing of the church lightly. He pointed out, however, that the recent interest in the church is coming too late to change that decision.

“We’ve had more discussion about the church in the last month than in the past 10 years that I have been a member,” he said.

“We worship God. We don’t worship a building,” he added. “It’s time to move on.”

“We all love history,” Mayor Ron Woodward said, pointing that the zone change request has opened the city‘s eyes to a lot of issues.

“But we also have a financial obligation,” he said.

In a roll call, the councilors each weighed in on the zone change and explained their vote. The final tally came in with four in favor, two opposed.

  • First Ward Alderman Thomas Kenyon supported the change. “We’ve got to put some buildings back on the tax rolls,” Kenyon said. “It is sad to see buildings go but we’ve got to move on.”
  • Second Ward Alderman David Guyer said while he understands the property will not be a viable church, he believes “something like this can be an economic tool.” Voting on the side of many of his constituents, he did not support the change.
  • Third Ward Alderman Robert Weston related the issue to the past decision to take down the former Knights of Columbus building, which would have cost city taxpayers thousands to maintain. “It’s a building,” Weston said. “It’s a beautiful building. We’re here to approve or disapprove a zone change. I vote yes.”
  • Fourth Ward Alderman Dana Smith agreed. “I see the preservation issue separate from the zone change issue,” Smith said, voting in favor of the change..
  • Voting against the change, Fifth Ward Alderman Norman “Jay” Foster said while he agrees “the body of Christ is people, not a building,” he also believes history piece is important. “I think we are giving up our history,” Foster said. “(The city needs to) start making plans. Don’t give it all away.”
  • “The history aspect of this is really nice,” Sixth Ward Alderman Russell Hayden said. “But we have a lot of vacant buildings. For a year and a half, this has been one of them.” Hayden subsequently voted to support the zone change.

Immediately following the vote, a public hearing was held on a special use permit for the business. While the hearing went forward and comments were taken, the council held off on the vote pending a review of the company’s site plan.

2 Comments

  1. LIKE I SAID IN MY LAST COMMENT…… THE VOTE WAS A GIVEN…..THE MEMBERS KNEW THE WAY THEY WERE GOING TO VOTE LONG BEFORE THE HEARING ON THIS….WHY DO YOU THINK THEY PULLED BACK THE VOTE WHEN IT WAS DEFFETED….WHEN EVER THIS COUNCIL OR ANY COUNCIL DOESN’T GET WHAT THEY WANT THEY TAKE THEIR BALL AND GO HOME UNTILL THEY GET THEIR WAY. AND THEY WONDER WHY ONLY ABOUT 10% OF THE PEOPLE VOTE IN THIS CITY ON ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE SCHOOL BUDGET. IT’S SAD VERY SAD.

  2. Kudos to the City of Fulton for opening the doors to more revenue, progressive future, and, finally, notice to future developers that the city is willing to welcome you. This will be the beginning of more to come, and reasons for the youth to stay here and raise a family in our wonderful community, not to mention the potential to bring down this horrible tax levy we live under, one step at a time.

    However, we must now also look at other properties that can be of historical benefit, work toward preserving them, obtaining the designation for them, and start paying some serious attention to the value of those historical landmarks. We now know what the process is, we know what must be done, now we must do it.

    This can truly be a long term win-win situation whether people can see it in the present or not. It is time for the opposing sides to bury the hatchet and start working on the other potential historical ventures that can exist side by side with progressive development that will support our community and the ability to help those plans and make Fulton an affordable place ot live, and a place that will change from a community once laughed at to a community that can be a destination for patrons, whom will bring their tax money with them. How nice for our coffers to benefit rather than Onondaga County’s for a change!

    There is still a chance to make this a “City with a future!”

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