FULTON, NY – The Fulton Common Council hosted two public hearings at the most recent regular meeting held Tuesday, August 16.
The first hearing was relative to fee increase for rental permits, with intent to change the rental permit fee from $30 for 5 years, to $50 for five years.
The council did not hear from any members of the public and unanimously passed the rental permit fee increase by the five present councilmen excluding fourth ward councilman, Jim Myers who was absent.
The second public hearing was relative to a zone change for the properties located at 837 and 839 Oneida St. from C-1 Commercial to R-1 Residential.
The current owner of the properties intended to sell them to a family interested in making the properties a single-family home. The intended sale remained contingent on the council’s decision as a residential mortgage loan could not be secured for a property zoned commercial.
The initial request was for the zone change from C-1 Commercial to R-2 Residential, a request in which Mayor Ronald Woodward Sr. objected and instead suggested the request for R-1 Residential.
Mayor Woodward explained that an R-1 zoning category is the most strict of residential zoning, meaning the new owner would only be able to occupy the house as a single-family home, although it could be rented as such.
In R-2 zoning, the property would be able to be used as multi-family rental properties, a situation Mayor Woodward did not want to happen.
“I did not think that would be good for the neighborhood. If it was going to be residential I wanted it to be nothing more than single family,” he said.
Neighbors of the area in which the properties are located spoke at the public hearing in search of clarification and reassurance that the neighborhood would remain a quiet and safe neighborhood.
“This is our forever home, this is where we want to spend the rest of our life, and we are dedicated to maintaining that neighborhood, that peacefulness, that cohesion, maintaining that security,” said one neighbor who has resided in the neighborhood for 36 years and raised a family there.
Mayor Woodward asked about the purchasers use of the warehouse space for the intent of repairing and maintaining their own personal motorcycles and trucks, inquiring on whether these vehicles would be noisy or troublesome for neighbors.
The intended purchasers spoke to the council and the public, attesting that they wish to make the properties a single-family home for their family to reside in, including their young children, and while they do own a few motorcycles, they are only used for casual, leisurely riding and do not make unnecessary loud disturbances.
Another neighbor, who will partially share a driveway with the purchaser, said he would like a barrier put in place to ensure that his young child is safe when riding a bicycle outside in the driveway.
Mayor Woodward said the final outcome would be up to the common council, but assured that “whatever happens, we will be very aggressive to keep (the neighborhood) the way it is,” adding that while the city can not “legislate lifestyle” every homeowner must follow code enforcement and the city police department’s laws and regulations.
Despite some confusion as to how the property can be zoned commercial but currently serve as a residential rental property, Woodward explained that if the property had been rented years ago, it would be considered grandfathered in. However, if the zone change occurred as a result of the public hearing, the current occupants would have to relocate.
Ultimately, the resolution did not pass. Councilman for the sixth ward where the properties are located, as well as the third and fifth ward councilmen voted in favor of the change where as councilmen for the first and second ward abstained their vote, saying they needed more information.
The resolution needed four votes to pass even with one councilman absent.
In other business, the council approved the sale of two properties obtained by the city through tax foreclosure.
The property located at 407 Vorhees St. was approved for sale for $2,000 and the property located at 819 Hannibal St. was approved for sale for $1,500.
Both of these sales were the result of Request for Proposals, meaning that the purchaser has one year to make the necessary repairs to the house to bring it up to code or else the house will be returned to the city.
“These two properties we sold tonight, we absolutely thought they would be demoed. So we got $2,000 for one and $1,500 for the other, I know it sounds like its not much for a house but I just talked to the Chamberlain who said it probably would have cost us about $60,000 to tear these houses down. Plus, they’ve got to get them to code, now we’ve got two more houses that fit nice in the neighborhoods, and they’re back on the tax rolls. I think its moving pretty good, we’re getting there,” said council president and first ward councilman, Thomas Kenyon.
Finally, the council approved permission for city officials to apply for state grant funding to combat zombie properties throughout the city. Find more information on this grant, here.