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.
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.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œMy concern is for this churchÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s ability to be a beaconÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦ the time has come,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Merlino said.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThey have tried to make it (a historic site) twice,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he added. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt didnÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t happen. ItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s not going to happen. The churchÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s future is dilapidation. I donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“t want to see that building slowly decaying.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
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.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve had more discussion about the church in the last month than in the past 10 years that I have been a member,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he said.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe worship God. We donÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t worship a building,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he added. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s time to move on.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWe all love history,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Mayor Ron Woodward said, pointing that the zone change request has opened the cityÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“s eyes to a lot of issues.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œBut we also have a financial obligation,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â 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. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œWeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve got to put some buildings back on the tax rolls,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Kenyon said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œIt is sad to see buildings go but weÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢ve got to move on.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
- Second Ward Alderman David Guyer said while he understands the property will not be a viable church, he believes ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œsomething like this can be an economic tool.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â 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. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s a building,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Weston said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œItÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s a beautiful building. WeÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢re here to approve or disapprove a zone change. I vote yes.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
- Fourth Ward Alderman Dana Smith agreed. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI see the preservation issue separate from the zone change issue,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Smith said, voting in favor of the change..
- Voting against the change, Fifth Ward Alderman Norman ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œJayÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Foster said while he agrees ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œthe body of Christ is people, not a building,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â he also believes history piece is important. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œI think we are giving up our history,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Foster said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ(The city needs to) start making plans. DonÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢t give it all away.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â
- ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œThe history aspect of this is really nice,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â Sixth Ward Alderman Russell Hayden said. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œBut we have a lot of vacant buildings. For a year and a half, this has been one of them.ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â 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 companyÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s site plan.