OSWEGO, NY – The Common Council voted 4-3 Monday night to allow a zone change for 134 and 140 E. 13th St., from R-3 Residential to B-1 Neighborhood Business.
Two weeks ago, the council voted 4-3 against the change.
The difference this week was a change of heart by the Fifth Ward councilor.
At the Feb. 28 meeting, Matt Kerwin, an attorney, representing Chris LaBarge, who wants to build a four-story hotel in the neighborhood, described the area as not one of the city’s “pristine residential areas.”
That upset several councilors, including Dan Donovan; and he voted against the change.
However, on Monday night he brought the issue back to the council floor where it was approved – causing one audience member to blurt out, “This is sneaky!” and then storm out of the council chamber.
“The last time, when the lawyer was speaking he said a few things about this don’t that I didn’t like and I let it get the best of me and I voted no,” Donovan told Oswego County Today.
He was originally in favor of the zone change, he added.
“I had a lot of phone calls and I let them all know that I was for that zone change,” Donovan said. “It was a last game time decision that I shouldn’t have made. There were some comments made at the last meeting that I took exception to and voted against it. I felt like I rectified it tonight.”
“You didn’t say you were going to vote for it,” one of the area’s neighbors said.
Donovan defended the vote saying that the hotel would be good for the entire city in the long-run.
Voting in favor of the resolution were Ron Kaplewicz, Fran Enwright, Erik VanBuren and Donovan.
In opposition were Mike Myers, Shawn Walker and Mike Todd.
Councilor Myers was irked that councilors had only received the resolution at 7 p.m., prior to the start of Monday’s meeting. He made an unsuccessful attempt to table the motion. It failed with only Myers, Walker and Todd voting in favor of tabling it.
Donovan pointed out that he is sympathetic the concerns of the residents in that area.
“But we can’t turn our backs on the potential business and financial gain for the whole city,” he said. “We were elected by the people to represent the people. We have to keep the best interest of the city in mind.”
Myers, the Second Ward councilor, called the move unfair to the residents of his ward, adding that he was at a loss for words.
Kaplewicz agreed with Donovan, pointing out that the councilors were elected to represent the entire city.
The hotel, he said, would mean more sales tax revenue, for property tax, more temporary jobs and more permanent jobs.
“It means a whole host of opportunity for a city that really needs to open its door to let everyone know we are open for business,” he added.