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Historic Preservation Rep To Discuss Congregational Church

FULTON, NY – Decisions on a zone change request that could usher in new business for the former First Congregational Church property have been delayed until next month.

This evening, the city will host a meeting with a representative of the state’s historical preservation office to learn whether the church could be used as part of a new plan.

The zone change met with controversy early this month as residents urged the Fulton Common Council to deny the request. They argued that once the city made the change, it would result in the destruction of a historical building that can never be recovered.

Family Video Store is working to purchase the church, the parsonage and two houses to the north of the church along West First Street. The buildings would be taken down and replaced with a new Family Video Outlet Store and a smaller retail space.

The project was referred earlier this summer to the Fulton Planning Commission, which unanimously agreed to allow the zone change. While the church, the parsonage and one house are already zoned commercially, another house that would be taken down as part of the project is zoned R-2 residential.

During the Aug. 5 council meeting, resident David Mankiewicz urged the council to consider the city’s goal of promoting historic preservation that was set down in the comprehensive plan. He stressed that there is nothing in that plan that supported the zone change.

Others also suggested that a developer could tap financial resources for future development if the church was listed the historical registry. Congregational Church representative Jan Mileskey pointed out that his church tried twice to win historical status for the church. Both attempts were turned down.

Second Ward Alderman Dave Guyer says that the city is curious to learn whether it is viable to rehabilitate the century-old building. The state representative was slated to tour the site prior to tonight’s meeting.

“Hopefully it will provide us with some information,” Guyer said.

“We are taking this one step at a time,” he added. “First (the city wants to know if) the church can be rehabilitated and used again without the taxpayers getting stuck with it.”

Tonight’s session is open to the public. It will begin at 7 p.m. at the Fulton Municipal Building.