Fulton Zoning Fight Ends in Victory for Neighbors of Rundown Closed Motel

The closed Holly Drive Motel along Rt. 3 in Fulton.
The closed Holly Drive Motel along Rt. 3 in Fulton.

The closed Holly Drive Motel will likely stay that way after Fulton Common Councilors Tuesday cleared up a conflict by saying the property is zoned single-family residential.

The designation gave a victory to neighbors but appeared to damage a chance for owner Vinod Mariwalla to sell the rundown 22-unit facility to a veteran landlord who said she wanted to build a 12-unit senior housing complex at the 901 Holly Dr. address. Mariwalla also operate the La Siesta motel in Oswego, where he said he lives.

According to county property tax records and Mariwalla’s statements at Tuesday’s public hearing, he bought the long-closed motel for $48,000 in September, 2011 at an auction. He said that he has put more than $70,000 into the project since then, when payment of back taxes, payment of current taxes and some maintenance is figured in.

The property is assessed at $85,714. Mariwalla said he is up to date on his tax payments.

Mariwalla said he believed the property was zoned R-3 when he bought it. R-3 is a residential zoning designation that allows for mixed uses, such as multi-unit apartments. His belief was based on the representation made to him when he bought the property, and on a map in the code enforcement office that shows at least part of the property is in an R-3 zone.

But Mayor Ron Woodward said the city’s and county’s tax records show the property is zoned R-1, which allows only single-family homes. He said the deputy city clerk went through decades of records to try to find any notation of a change in zoning for the land. “There’s nothing in the records that says R-3,” he said. “We can find no proof it was ever rezoned.”

Residents of the neighborhood lined up to urge the city not to allow the R-3 zoning.

Dave Halstead of S. 11th St. said that police visit the building frequently and “we just don’t need that anymore.”

Mary Delong of Utica St. said she has been part of the neighborhood for 45 years and can see the motel from her front windows. “Ever since that’s been closed, we don’t have a stealing problem in our neighborhood anymore,” she said. “We’d like to keep it just the way it is — a nice neighborhood where everybody gets along and nobody steals nothing.”

Mariwalla said he was prepared to sell the property at half its assessed value to Cindy Korthas, who said she owns and operates 23 rental properties in the eastern half of the county. Mariwalla’s lawyer showed Councilors a sketch of Korthas’s planned 12-unit efficiency apartment complex for seniors.

She said her units are all well-maintained and up to code, and that she doesn’t put up with tenants who use drugs or cause trouble. “I don’t put up with the bullcrap,” she said.

To the neighbors who opposed the zone change, she said, “If anybody thinks they want the place to be torn down, (Mariwalla) is by all means willing to sell it.”

Councilors agreed with Woodward’s assessment that there was no proof that the land was ever rezoned to R-3. They voted 6-0 to deny the zone change. Mariwalla’s lawyer hinted that Mariwalla might sue to get a judge to sort out the conflict between the code enforcement map and the tax records.


  1. I think it is a shame that this was shot down.I remeber when it was a nice little motel,had a restaurant,and was well maintained !! If people have lived in the area 45 yrs.,do they NOT remember that?? We NEED another motel/hotel in this area.We also need more senior housing.WAKE UP !!!!!

  2. Karen you are the one that needs to wake up….yes it was a very nice motel when the Tetro family ran it but if you really think that an other absentee landlord would run a non crime laden multiple-units ..your head is in the clouds….we do need another motel in the area but it must be a well established chain motel….picture food carts at the font of every unit….then say it is nice. Come out of the clouds Karen and back to the real world of rental properties here in Fulton..This deal would have been a bait and switch deal…she would have bought it and then sold it….

  3. Thanks you to the City Councillors, the Mayor, and all who spoke at the Council Meeting. Our neighborhood is much safer and more secure now. Mr. Mariwalla should have done his homework before he purchased the property. The grandfathered Hotel licensing had even expired before he purchased it at the auction. And there was controversy about what the land was zoned. These were discussed the day of the auction. His emotions let him buy this with the hopes of making a killing from taxpayer money running it as a halfway house as it has been in the past, but that was never good for our community. If he is smart, now he will market it as prime housing real estate with a fantastic location in a peaceful neighborhood near the school, ice cream stand, and pool.

  4. Why would the “City of Fulton” want a new business paying taxes to improve the city income? A vacant building deteriorating looks much better to potential businesses looking to come to Fulton than an operating one. The “City of Fulton” appears to approve of their city becoming a FUTURELESS city.

  5. Yeah, I’m sure that the neighborhood is going to be much better now, figuring that the projects are right around the corner from this.

  6. I agree with Russ Kinsman … why not just let the
    building set there and continue to look like crap?…
    Why would people want it improved and see a
    successful business bring money into this fine
    city? … Afterall, we have a beautiful beach and many
    other wonderful attractions that will draw people
    here, right? …

  7. I think the instincts of these neighbors was right on. If you look up Cindy Korthas on the Oswego County Parcel Search website it indicates she owns two parcels in Parish, both single family manufactured homes. It doesn’t show ownership of any rental units at all unless she owns them under a DBA. Google doesn’t produce much evidence of property ownership either other than the same double-wide mobile home. It’s hard to take the potential sale seriously given the lack of supporting information.

  8. ttcuster……I do agree that a absentee landlord is NOT the way to go,I never said it was !! As far as rental properties? The blame lies with the owners of those properties ,who if they do not monitor them ,do extensive rental background checks on prospective tenants,etc. and are just out for the money,hold them AND their tenants accountable !! My point was that we need another motel,senior housing,etc. to improve this area.

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