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Zoning board mulls college appeal of fence denial

Requirement of amended site plan for turf field project challenged by Cazenovia College

Cazenovia College's Christakos Field, made of artificial turf, was completed in December 2011 and inaugurated for play in spring 2012. In July 2012 the college proposed to build a six-foot-high fence around the athletic complex but was denied by the village zoning enforcement officer. The issue is currently before the village zoning board of appeals.

Cazenovia College's Christakos Field, made of artificial turf, was completed in December 2011 and inaugurated for play in spring 2012. In July 2012 the college proposed to build a six-foot-high fence around the athletic complex but was denied by the village zoning enforcement officer. The issue is currently before the village zoning board of appeals.

— Both sides of the disagreement over where, when and how Cazenovia College may build a six-foot-high fence around its athletic complex perimeter have been heard, and the village zoning board of appeals will issue its decision in about two weeks.

The issue, which has been ongoing since summer 2012, concerns whether or not the village zoning enforcement officer (ZEO) properly denied the college’s permit application to build the fence, which the ZEO determined was part of the 2011-12 turf field project, not an independent project and therefore requires further site plan review. The issue of the fence is larger than the zoning disagreement, however, as numerous neighbors are decrying the plan as not only invasive to their property values and quality of life, but also an extension of the turf field project that the college previously promised it would not do — and possibly the first step of many to expand the turf field to a stadium-like appearance and status.

“We are just another landowner. We have the right to prevent … trespassers,” said Kevin M. Bernstein, attorney for the college, at a March 26 ZBA public hearing on the fence issue.

Bernstein, of the law firm Bond, Schoeneck & King, presented the college’s argument that the fence — which would be approximately 1,420 linear feet spanning the eastern, northern and western edges of the college’s Schneeweiss Athletic Complex beginning at the tennis courts and ending at the upper parking lot — is not part of the original turf field plan but is now needed to prevent trespassers on the $1 million field and protect the college’s investment.

“Any property owner should have a way to protect their property, and that’s what we’re trying to do here,” Bernstein told the board.

The turf field was added by the college in 2011-12 to create a drainage mitigation system on the field behind the college athletic house, and to put an artificial turf field in place of the grass field previously there to allow normal athletic seasonal use for the college’s sports teams. During village planning board hearings on the turf field project in 2011, Cazenovia College President Mark Tierno said the project was only for a turf field and nothing more. There would be no fencing or plantings, no field lighting, no stadium seating, no roads or parking lots and “there is no larger agenda here other than this field,” Tierno said at that time.

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