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Property talk tops Salina town discussion

A heated debate arose over the rezoning of a piece of residential property on Buckley Road at the Salina Town Board meeting Monday night Jan. 25. The public hearing became contentious after area residents defended their positions.

Robert Bick, the owner of the property at 6732 Buckley Road, had proposed a zone change due to an inability to sell his family's land. He and his brother don't want to rent or use the house, but they don't want to see the home demolished.

"We haven't had one offer," Bick said, noting that in the seven months the house has been on the market, extensive construction has taken place around the property. "Trying to show the house in that kind of condition is impossible."

The proposal would change the plot from residential housing to a light office property, intended for a small one or two person business.

"The integrity of the property won't change; the integrity of the neighborhood won't change," Bick said.

Neighborhood residents in attendance disagreed with Bick's rationale. One resident was worried about the aesthetic of the neighborhood. Another was concerned with an increase in traffic on Buckley Drive. A third was just frustrated because his request to build a barber shop was denied. Maria Cirino said the property hadn't received any offers for good reason.

"There have been no price reductions since it was listed," Cirino said. "It's listed at 70 percent above market value."

Cirino also pointed out that there were larger houses on the market for a much cheaper price in the same neighborhood.

Ben Rinaldi supported Cirino, criticizing the town board's role in the rezoning.

"You know you have no control over this if the zoning goes through," Rinaldi said.

Only one person came to the podium in favor of Bick's rezoning proposal.

Clifford Gale said he'd like to see the property sold but returned to his seat with only a sparse explanation.

Town Board 3rd Ward representative Christopher Benz suggested that the discussion be postponed so he could gather more information from area residents who had tried to contact him, and Town Supervisor Mark Nicotra moved to have the public hearing reopened the second week of February. More than half of the meeting's attendees shuffled out of the room following this motion.

The rest of the agenda was discussed without incident, including the approval of the November 2009 financial statement. Nicotra ended the meeting with a short and well-received, "Go Orange."

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