TOWN OF SARATOGA
August 27, 2008 - 7:30 PM
Standing Chairman Robert Park called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.
Planning Clerk Linda McCabe called the roll. Standing Chairman Robert Park – present, Chairman Ian Murray – absent, Paul Griffen – present, Laurie Griffen – present, Patrick Hanehan – present, Robert McConnell – present, Jennifer Koval – present, and Alternate Joseph Lewandowski – absent.
Special Use Permit Pre-Submission Conference
Mark Vamvalis # 08-13
5 King James Court
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
S/B/L 206.9-1-21 Lake Residential
Applicant is seeking a Special Use Permit to have an existing two-family dwelling, situated on 0.28 acres with 100’ of frontage, at 22 Palmer Heights, categorized as townhouse dwellings in order to subdivide and sell. This is located at the corner of Rt. 9P and Palmer Heights.
Maria Curley appeared before the Board on behalf of Applicant Mark Vamvalis, explaining they are looking for input and probability from the Board on how to make this project work. She told the Board she first spoke with Zoning Officer Gil Albert and he told her she should come to the Planning Board first, instead of expending funds on trying to get variances and approvals through the Zoning Board of Appeals. They then of course, would certainly go to ZBA. She then stated the current home was built on the footprint of the original home; the only difference is it now is two stories instead of one. (NOTE: the Applicant provided no information or documentation concerning this to the Board.) Mr. Vamvalis purchased the property in 2002; in 2006 he took the original one-story house down, and built the new two-story house. Maria Curley stated he got all his appropriate permits and had Zoning Officer Gil Albert out to the site and Gil approved the footprint and the two-stories and visited it; everything was done by the book for the two-story house. (NOTE: Zoning Officer Gil Albert was not the Zoning Officer in 2006; also the Applicant provided no documentation of this to the Board) It faces the lake so both sides of the house view the lake. Maria Curley stated they would like a reclassification. They would like it classified as two separate townhouses, not a two-family dwelling. In the past it was always two deeds, two families. (NOTE: the Applicant provided no documentation to the
Board.) It is currently one deed and Mr. Vamvalis is sole owner. He would like to draw a line right down the middle of the house and property and sell the one half and keep the other for himself. Mr. Vamvalis said it was his thought that since it was that way in the past, he could do the same thing now and that it would be grandfathered that way. If he knew he couldn’t do this, he wouldn’t have built the house he did. Maria Curley added Mr. Vamvalis bought it in 2002 when economies were much better, so economically speaking it would be better for him today, to be able to subdivide and sell the one side of the house. Practically speaking it’s always been two family ownership and two deeds so he should be able to do the same. (NOTE: the Applicant provided no documentation to the Board.) She also stated their experts tell them there will be no burden to the land doing this project. They realize there are issues with water and parking. There is one well and the well company told them the current well can accommodate both homes and that if needed, it is easy to put in another well. She added that the well company sees no additional burden to the lot with doing this. Paul Griffen stated he has a problem with making a 50’ lot. He also said the Planning Board cannot approve it, period. Maria Curley replied of course they need Zoning Board of Appeals and hope the ZBA says that since it’s already here they can proceed. Patrick Hanehan told her that what happened six years ago is null and void. Mark Vamvalis stated he thought due to past practice that he would be able to subdivide and sell. Laurie Griffen asked if it is one or two deeds and Maria Curley said it’s one deed. Laurie noted it’s just one property and one deed now, and Maria Curley responded correct, but in the past it was always two families. She added it is one house but has a wall down the middle, so it’s already set up as townhouses. The sewer is set and lines are in if public water comes along so we’re all set. Standing Chairman Robert Park stated that this is a substandard non-conforming lot. It’s already against our regulations. The reasoning for the lake residential district is to make lots larger, reduce density rather than increase it. There are a lot of camps around the lake and once the door is open to 50’ frontage, people will see opportunities to subdivide those tiny lots and we have already established precedents. The main thing is, it is substandard and if it’s subdivided it is going to be even worse. And that is against what we do. Maria Curley responded, with respect to other people coming along and saying “they did this-why not me”, this is a pretty unique situation. Nothing is going to change structurally; 40 years ago there were two families here. Paul Griffin stated we are not addressing the past. We are addressing a single property owner with a single house on it; I don’t care how he built the inside of it. Jennifer Koval stated it sounds like you were grandfathered in on a lot that was too small for a two-family house to begin with, and now you want to subdivide a substandard lot and make it even more substandard. Standing Chairman Robert Park added you basically want to change the use. Townhouses are even more restricted than two-family dwellings, so it makes a bad situation even worse. I don’t see how we can bless this. Maria Curley stated she understands in terms of on the books; yes two-family has different regulations than a townhouse and so technically it’s already violating. Jennifer Koval said that it’s not violating if it was there before the rules changed, but now the rules apply to what we do now and going forward. Laurie Griffin added that the Board has to deal with what is here now. We can’t do anything to help with this; you need to go to the ZBA. The Board has to go by the laws and regulations. Robert McConnell said he’d send it to ZBA with no comment. Standing Chairman Robert Park stated it is what it is-too small of a lot, but we can send it to ZBA with no comment, but Patrick Hanehan stated he feels it should be sent with comment to deny.
Town Engineer Ken Martin sent a memo stating, “In my opinion, this property did not meet the requirements for a one family or two family home. If the occupancy is changed to two townhouses as requested, the area requirements would become even worse, as a half acre or 21,780 square feet would be required for the two townhouses. Additionally, if the lot was subdivided as implied, each lot equally divided, would only have 6,100 square feet per lot. Set backs would also not be able to be met in the requested scenarios.”
Maria Curley said looking at it practically, what about the tax value, won’t it help the town taxing two properties instead of one and Laurie Griffin stated, from the Board’s practical perspective, it is different; townhouse regulations are different from two-family. She stated she is not in favor of this. A lengthy discussion continued and the Board stated the Applicant has to go to ZBA. Maria Curley thanked the Board. Due to the Applicant wanting a sense of probability the Board acknowledged this as a formal application for the purpose of denial. Patrick Hanehan made a motion to deny this application with a negative recommendation to the Zoning Board of Appeals. Chairman Ian Murray – absent, Standing Chairman Robert Park – aye, Laurie Griffin – aye, Paul Griffen – aye, Jennifer Koval – aye, Patrick Hanehan – aye, Robert McConnell – aye, Alt. Joseph Lewandoski – absent.
Carried 6-0 This application is denied.
Order of Business:
Old Business: None
New Business: Board Member Paul Griffin spoke concerning the new zoning regulation book, the new laws that were passed, and the continuing work that needs to be done. For example, he feels the Board should do more “planning”, such as addressing how utilities in developments are distributed, demolition; rules on not demolishing significantly historical buildings and wind energy.
A motion to adjourn was made at 8:40 p.m. by Laurie Griffin, and seconded by Patrick Hanehan. Chairman Ian Murray – absent, Standing Chairman Robert Park – aye, Laurie Griffin – aye, Paul Griffen – aye, Jennifer Koval – aye, Patrick Hanehan – aye, Robert McConnell – aye, Alt. Joseph Lewandoski – absent.
Carried 6 – 0
The next meeting will be held September 24, 2008