VALATIE–The village Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) has approved a setback variance applied for by Habitat for Humanity, clearing the way for the organization to build a new two-family house on Main Street.
The lot that Habitat plans to use for the project currently has a two-family house on it that does not meet current village requirements for the distance between the structure and the street and adjacent properties. But the existing house was built before the village had zoning laws.
Habitat plans to demolish the existing building and replace it with a new, two-family home set back further than the current house but not far enough to meet current village set-back regulations. The variance grants Habitat an exception from the setback distance.
“It’s still going to be very close to the perimeter of the property,” Brenda Adams, the executive director of Columbia County Habitat for Humanity, told the board at the ZBA meeting Wednesday, October 28. But she stressed that the new house comes closer to meeting the required distance than the current house.
ZBA members agreed with Ms. Adams, with many members saying that the Habitat house would be a great improvement on that site.
“There is no way to get a two-family structure there without a variance,” said ZBA member Matt Carter.
Habitat was asking for variances to the set-back in the front and on both sides of the property, which is on the corner of Main and New streets.
The ZBA held a public hearing on the variance before their meeting. A few villagers asked questions about the project. No one said anything negative about the variance request.
Ms. Adams told the board that with the variance, she can now go back to village building inspector with plans for construction. She said that Habitat, a non-profit group, will have to do some asbestos abatement before the building can be demolished.
“We’re going to push to get the demolition done by this fall,” she said.
Columbia County Habitat for Humanity, founded in 1993, is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. The local chapter’s website, www.columbiacountyhabitat.org , says the group has built affordable housing for 16 families in the county. The building process uses volunteers to build or rehabilitate homes and requires that the families that move into the house must also work on the project. “We make home ownership possible for lower-income working families through no-interest mortgages,” the statement on the website reads. Habitat has built at least one other home in Valatie, as well as homes in Chatham, Hudson and Copake. The homes are on local tax rolls and the families that own them pay a no-interest mortgage to Habitat, which uses the repayments to fund other homes and to support the organization.
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