For the YMCA’s 11-unit housing project proposal, all roads keep leading to the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals — but the project never seems to get there.
A month after YMCA officials protested a decision by the Planning Board to refer the project to the ZBA, an appeal filed Wednesday by YMCA attorneys will send the project there anyway — probably in July.
The YMCA is appealing the May 4 ruling of Building Inspector D. Robert Robbins, who determined the expansion plan for the Y’s East Fulton Street housing complex constitutes a rooming house, not the apartment house format represented in the application for a special permit.
That is the same issue the Planning Board wanted clarified by the ZBA when it voted in April to refer the project to its sister board. But after YMCA officials opposed that move and persuaded the Planning Board at its May meeting to rescind the referral, they are now the ones seeking the review and gambling the ZBA will find the proposal is for apartments and send the project back to the Planning Board.
The commercial zone in the city’s downtown business district accommodates apartment complexes but restricts rooming houses to nine rooms or fewer. A variance would clear a larger rooming house project.
The proposed $3.5 million project, financed with a state grant, would develop the vacant first and second floors, adding 11 multibed units to the 23 single rooms the YMCA has operated on its third floor for nearly a century.
The city’s special counsel on the YMCA application, former city attorney Michael M. Albanese, said Thursday he continues to agree with Robbins that the proposal describes a rooming house and therefore needs a variance. If the appeal to the ZBA on the rooming house definition fails, the project may have to go back to the ZBA for the variance. The Y could also challenge in court, as it did unsuccessfully in 2008.
Y Executive Director Steven Serge and the Y’s new attorney, Todd M. Mathes of the Albany firm of Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Though the YMCA revised the expansion area after a 2008 rejection by the ZBA so that rooms include the key apartment amenities — kitchens and baths — Robbins ruled May 4 the format is consistent with a rooming house.
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Categories: Schenectady County