continued “The focus here is what the [village] code says and what the case law says,” Bernstein said. He said the fence “clearly” fits the definition of an accessory structure and therefore falls under the exception to a site plan approval.
During Bernstein’s remarks, Cerio questioned the assertion that the fence was a stand-alone structure unrelated to the previous field project. He also asked Bernstein whether, when questioning the interpretation of the village code, the village is not in fact the best entity to interpret its own code. “Should not the court defer to them?” Cerio asked.
“Not in this case,” Bernstein responded, saying that the village code enforcement officer and ZBA did not give “reasonable interpretations” of the code, but were in fact “irrational” in their interpretations. “They’re reading too much into the law,” he said. “We don’t think judicial deference is owed here.”
John Langey, special attorney for the village ZBA, said the college’s location in the C2 zoning district for secondary educational institutions requires full site plan review.
“If we were to accept the college’s position … and allow all accessory uses in the college district without site plan approval we’ll have turned the C2 district on its head,” Langey said.
Langey then referenced a college publication in which plans for the field project, including a press box, bleachers and field lighting, were mentioned, and said it proves that the fence is part of the previous turf field project, and, if the court upholds the college’s position, then those other accessory structures will certainly be built. “That’s not what was intended by a C2 zoning district,” Langey said.
Cazenovia Village Attorney Jim Stokes, who represents CEO William Carr in the case, said the only question in the case was whether the ZBA had a “rational basis” for its decision requiring site plan approval for the fence.