VALATIE–The village Zoning Board of Appeals met last week to review plans by Habitat for Humanity to build a new two-family on home on a plot now occupied by a dilapidated house at the corner of Main and New streets.
Brenda Adams, executive director of Habitat for the county, attended the September 23 ZBA meeting to ask the board for a variance from local set-back requirements and to look at any other issues that will help the project move forward.
“The set-back rules have been changed since the house was built,” she told the board. She added that though the new house her organization plans to build would have a smaller footprint and would be set back further than the current house on the lot, it still would not comply with the current village code.
She said Habitat house are generally 1,200 to 1,400 square feet, though the final design for this proposed home will not be done until a survey of the property is finished.
Mayor Diane Argyle, who was at the meeting, said that Ms. Adams had to talked to village Building Inspector Walt Simonsmeier about a variance and he did not see a problem with it.
Habitat wants to demolish the house, which is a two-family structure, and replace it with another two-family home, which Mr. Simonsmeier also said would be also possible.
“If Walt has made a call on that, it’s not in our court,” said Zoning Board Chairman Martin McDermott, referring to replacing one two-family structure with another. But Mr. McDermott said he wants a letter to that effect from Mr. Simonsmeier, which will be placed in the application file. Mayor Argyle said she would get the letter.
“We do not feel that the building has enough to be saved,” said Ms. Adams. She said the local Habitat chapter hopes to do the demolition in November and start building in the spring.
Individual ZBA members expressed their support for Habitat and this project. Newly appointed ZBA member Diana Vanalstyne mentioned the other house built by Habitat for Humanity on Luther Street, remarking on the success of that project.
ZBA member Keith Lynch said of the building that would be demolished, “I like was Habitat does… and that thing is an eyesore.”
“We can’t act on it until there is a public hearing,” Mr. McDermott told the board.
Ms. Adams said she would try to get the survey to the board as soon as possible and notify the neighbors about a public hearing presently scheduled for 7:30 p.m. October 28. If the application is not complete, the hearing will be cancelled. The board plans to meet at 6:30 that evening to review the application.
Habitat for Humanity started discussing this project with the village in late 2013. The Village Board had to change its zoning laws in that part of the Main Street to accommodate the request from Habitat to make the building all residential. The zoning law at that time said that buildings in the Business Overlay District, which included the property on corner of New Street, needed to have a commercial property on the first floor if major renovations were done.
The Village Board changed that part of the law in September of 2014 after asking the Planning Board to review the regulations and then holding a public hearing.
The Columbia County chapter of Habitat for Humanity was founded in 1993. Volunteers have built affordable housing for 16 families. The organization makes home ownership possible for lower-income working families through no-interest mortgages. The families must assist with the construction, and Habitat homes are placed on the tax rolls.
Ms. Adams said at the September meeting that Habitat wanted to do a build in Valatie knowing there would be families in “our demographic” in the community and that her organization had gotten a lot of support for the village community over the years.
“We’d very much like to give back to a community that has given us so much,” she said.
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