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Cazenovia College sues village in state supreme court over proposed fence

College seeks to overturn ZBA decision requiring full site plan review

— Cazenovia College has filed suit in New York State Supreme Court asking a judge to overturn the village zoning board’s April decision to require full site plan review for a proposed perimeter fence around the college’s athletic complex rather than issuing a simple building permit.

The argument, which has been ongoing for nearly one year, has become and passionate — and sometimes personal — issue between the college, its neighbors, the village zoning enforcement officer and the village government, with accusations of unneighborly conduct, acting in bad faith, mendacity, incompetence and even illegalities being asserted.

“I’m not surprised, but we were hoping we had dodged a bullet,” ZBA Chair Phillip Byrnes said of the suit. “It’s in the hands of the powers above us now.”

The “bullet,” or the need to continue to argue the issue and pay further attorneys’ fees, was the fact that the college had 30 days to file its appeal — called an Article 78 — with the state supreme court, which it did on the 30th day, May 17, said Mayor Kurt Wheeler.

“There will be substantial expenditure [to the village] for this unfortunately,” Village Attorney Jim Stokes told the village board during a May 28 special meeting.

“I think that’s what [the college] had in mind,” said Trustee Amy Mann.

For their part, college administrators maintain their position that the college is being unfairly singled out by the village.

“Cazenovia College’s stance on the matter has not changed. We believe that the village is not applying the zoning code fairly and specifically targeting the college. Our desire to fence in our athletic complex property is supported by case law, hence our decision to proceed in court,” said Cazenovia College President Mark Tierno.

The fence issue, which has been ongoing since summer 2012, concerns whether or not the village’s Zoning Enforcement Officer, Bill Carr, properly denied the college’s permit application to build a 1,420 linear feet fence (six feet in height and made of chain link with black vinyl coating) spanning the eastern, northern and western edges of the its Schneeweiss Athletic Complex.

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