FULTON, NY – More than 45 years ago, the area in Fulton encompassing Division Street, South Second Street, Lyon Street, South First Street and Union Street was all cataloged as M-1 or manufacturing zones.
The idea was the former Sealright Company would expand and create a larger campus as the company grew. However, times changed, Sealright is now Huhtamaki and it has become clear this is not an area that will be used for manufacturing.
The zoning change on the table at Tuesday night’s meeting proposed to change the area to an R-1A, or residential area.
Mayor Ron Woodward pointed out the change makes sense since the area is already mostly residential. This resolution passed unanimously.
Residential properties in the M-1 area were “grandfathered in” and therefore people were not living illegally in their homes.
Problems arise for houses in that area that have been vacant for more than one year. After that year, the houses lose their “grandfather” status and it then becomes illegal for the vacant property to be used residentially.
The Quinn family, for instance, is attempting to move back to Fulton after many years away. They ran into trouble when they tried to move into their new house only to find out it is one of those properties no longer allowed to be residential in the manufacturing zone.
The Quinns had several community members from the area stand up and voice their support for the change.
“They’re living their American dream,” Brad Warner said. “We need more people to make the city prosperous in the future.”
“We want them to come back,” said Mayor Woodward.
The zone change solves the problem and makes vacant properties more marketable.
It also makes it so people like the Quinns who purchase properties not knowing of the zoning law able to move into their homes.
One community member who spoke at the meeting equated living residentially in the manufacturing zone to “being held hostage.”
“If it gives somebody the change to live their dream and have their own home,” Warner said. “I say change it.”
What’s unique about R-1A is this zone requires single-family homes.
Of course, multiple family homes already in the affected area will not have to change and the residents will not being living illegally. However, if a multiple-family home in the zone remains vacant for over a year then it can only be a single-family home after that.
Concerns were raised that the R-1A zone will allow for more rental properties to pop up in the area.
However, Mayor Woodward and Councilor Pete Franco pointed out that there is nothing keeping people from renting out their properties now in the M-1 zone, so there isn’t much that would change.
The hope is that stricter residential zoning requirements would possibly cut down on rental properties in the city.
Leonard Langdon, another community member who spoke at the meeting, said, “I personally think it’s only going to do great things for the city. I’m for it and I think we need to move forward with it.”
With the unanimous passing of this resolution, the Quinns and hopefully more families as well will be able to settle down in Fulton.