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ZBA denies college appeal over athletic complex fencing request

— The decision declared that a fence such as the college wants to erect is a structure, a structure requires a building permit and the village code requires site plan review by the village planning board for all land use activities in the village unless exempted under the code, which the college’s project is not. The board also declared that the college is in a C2 College zoning district, and, under the code, “all uses” located in the C-2 College District are required to undergo site plan approval by the planning board.

“The ZBA hereby rejects the argument that Section 180-111 must be read in a vacuum and without regard to other relevant sections of the Zoning Regulations. Rather, the ZBA determines that site plan review is mandatory in instances such as this where a perimeter fence will control access and usage of an athletic facility which has undergone a recent previous exhaustive site plan review,” the decision stated.

The board also rejected the college’s argument that since it must allow this fence to be built because previous fence construction had been allowed. The board said those fences were not comparable to the currently proposed fence in size and scope, and therefore the comparison was not applicable.

The board’s decision was based on its review of all past planning board minutes concerning relevant college projects and, specifically, “the way code physically reads” as to what a building project is, when it requires a building permit and what the authority of the planning board is to review such projects, according to Langey.

At the April 18 meeting, Langey stated for the record that ZBA members Tara Hartley and Sally Ryan had informed him that each had a relative that had publicly opposed the fence project — Hartley’s ex-husband and Ryan’s a son-in-law — but neither felt a need to recuse themselves from voting, feeling no bias existed on their parts. Langey said he informed Cazenovia College attorney Kevin M. Bernstein of the disclosures the previous week. Bernstein expressed no objection at that time. Langey, at the April 18 meeting, again informed Bernstein of the disclosures and asked if he had any comment. Bernstein responded that he “acknowledged” Langey’s statement and would let Ryan and Hartley make their own decisions on the propriety of voting on the resolution. Langey then said, “So for the record you have no objection?” Bernstein said, “I didn’t say that.”

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