Saratoga County

Ballston Spa board’s subdivision ruling results in lawsuit

The owner of a disputed building on Maple Avenue has sued the village Planning Board over its failur
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The owner of a disputed building on Maple Avenue has sued the village Planning Board over its failure to approve a subdivision the building would need to be legal.

The lawsuit filed last week in state Supreme Court for Saratoga County says the Planning Board improperly tied the proposed subdivision of property owned by Samantha Stephens to the issue of the building constructed on her land without a building permit. The board never acted on the application.

“The Planning Board failed and refused to act upon the application for subdivision approval based upon an alleged violation that was not before the Planning Board for its consideration,” Stephens states in court papers.

The lawsuit seeks to have a judge order the two-lot subdivision approved. An approved subdivision would enhance the building’s legal status by putting it on its own building lot.

The lawsuit is the latest development in an ongoing battle over the two-story, 3,100-square-foot building built in 2010 on Stephens’ property on a residential street. She also lives on the property in a large residence converted to apartments.

The building at issue appears from the outside to be a three-bay garage with two apartments above it, but it is unfinished on the inside after the village issued a stop-work order.

The Village Board in late July voted to take enforcement action against the building, potentially including asking for the building’s demolition.

Stephens has not disputed that the building went up without subdivision approval or a building permit, but she says it was built by a former boyfriend and she was unaware it didn’t have the proper approvals. She has offered to pay a fine, but opposes having to demolish the building.

Stephens applied for a two-lot subdivision of her property in May 2011, after the building dispute was already under way. The Planning Board never made a decision on the application.

In the lawsuit, Stephens’ attorney, Stephen J. Conners of Ballston Spa, says Stephens’ lot, at 1.58 acres with 215 feet of road frontage, meets the village standards for subdivision into two lots.

He also says the disputed building meets all village zoning code requirements.

Village Attorney James A. Fauci did not respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit on Monday.

In September 2011, he wrote Stephens a letter saying he had advised the Planning Board it didn’t have the authority to grant a subdivision approval after a building had been constructed.

“At this point, the only remedy would be for you to remove the structure and apply for the proper permits and/or subdivision approvals,” Fauci stated in that letter.

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