ZBA gives thumbs up to proposed River Road storage facility

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A use variance was approved for a proposed storage unit facility on River Road by the city Zoning Board of Appeals during its regular monthly meeting held Wednesday in Common Council Chambers of City Hall.

Anthony Festa, of Rome, potential owner of 7371 River Road, is seeking to construct self-storage buildings on the property with one free-standing sign to be installed as per city zoning limits.

Festa was seeking a use variance because a storage unit is not permitted use in the Agricultural Zone District. Festa initially also submitted a request for an area variance to install gravel driveways as opposed to asphalt on
right-of-way portions of the property,
but he later withdrew the variance request.

The applicant also proposed to construct the storage unit facility within the required setback, reducing the distance between the buildings and lot line to 25-feet for both the eastern and western interior side lot line.

The rear setback is 30-feet, and the proposed construction will encroach within the rear setback. According to the city code, the interior side setback should be 30 feet.

Rome Attorney Paul Skavina, representing Festa, explained to board members that he and the potential owner believed the project would not interfere with the aesthetics or character of the neighborhood, as they felt agriculture was no longer a special use seeing it’s a “more commercial area now — you’ve got the hotel and campground-type area.”

“We feel the character of the neighborhood would not change, and” Festa “is looking to make a nice use of this land,” Skavina said.

Festa also explained that he had plans to screen the storage unit facility with a chain-link fence with plastic slats on the eastern and western sides of the property, and install solid vinyl fencing near the road in front.

When questioned by board members if other uses had been considered for the property that would be within current codes for the district, owner Riccardo Dursi explained that he had been trying to sell it without success since the 2013 fire and demolition of the former Griff Restaurant & Pub at the site.

While the city Planning Board would be the lead agency on the project’s Site Environmental Quality Review, Zoning Chairman John Sorbello said the Zoning Board also had to review an make a determination on the SEQR, which it unanimously approved. After voting to allow the use variance for the project in an agriculture district, members also unanimously approved the area variance for the setback reduction.

Based on the Zoning Board approvals, Festa’s proposed project will now go before the Planning Board, where a site plan will be presented.

Other items:

• Nicholas Scholl, owner of 741 Camp St., was seeking two area variances to install an addition to an existing driveway and widen an existing second driveway. The result would be driveways with a dimension greater than the allowable 12 feet. It would also result in front yard coverage in access of the 30 percent maximum coverage allowed. After Scholl stated his intentions were to improve the property, board members unanimously approved both variances.

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