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Author Topic: Torie's zoning variance hearing  (Read 273 times)
Torie
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« on: April 17, 2014, 06:41:54 am »
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Last night was phase 1. In a month is phase two, when there is a public hearing, and then a vote. There is a lot of confusion about what the zoning code means and says, and if applied literally, almost everything proposed to be built would require a variance. One of the collateral effects of all of this contretemps, is that in about two or three months, I suspect the code will be totally rewritten. I am about half way through doing just that. It is like writing a very complex contract. I will get my variance irrespective, but not everyone can cope for this Byzantine maze the way I can, and push just the right legal buttons, due to being used to doing just that for 35 years.

Not mentioned in the article, is that I handed out a case from New York's highest court, that made clear, that the test is really about balancing benefits to the applicant, and detriments to the neighborhood, and not the size of the variance requested per se. Three other applicants last week bit the dust, in substantial part perhaps because their attorneys did not bring up that case, and the city is getting less than stellar legal advice - to put it mildly. I'm here to help them with some of this. And we are going to get the job done - trust me. Smiley
« Last Edit: April 17, 2014, 07:57:12 am by Torie »Logged

muon2
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« Reply #1 on: April 17, 2014, 07:19:28 am »
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We use a six part test here. Perhaps some might by useful in your endeavors:

(1) The particular physical surroundings, shape or topographical condition of the specific property involved would result in a particular hardship upon the owner, as distinguished from a mere inconvenience or loss of revenue, if the strict letter of the regulations were carried out.
(2) The condition upon which the requested minor variance is based would not be applicable, generally, to other property within the same zoning classification.
(3) The alleged difficulty or hardship has not been created by any person presently having an interest in the property.
(4) The granting of the minor variance will not be detrimental to the public welfare or injurious to other property or improvements in the neighborhood in which the property is located.
(5) The proposed minor variance will not impair an adequate supply of light and air to adjacent property, substantially increase the congestion in the public streets, increase the danger of fire, endanger the public safety or substantially diminish or impair property values within the neighborhood.
(6) The proposed minor variance complies with the spirit and intent of the restrictions imposed by this code.
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Torie
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« Reply #2 on: April 17, 2014, 07:41:54 am »
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Is that the standard for an area variance or a use variance, or both?  In New York, the standards are very different, with an area variance being much easier to obtain, and a use variance next to impossible.
The standards you outlined will not work if the code does not comport with what is actually on the ground. For New York, the Sasso v Osgood case is the way out of the box when that obtains. 
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« Reply #3 on: April 17, 2014, 07:43:39 am »
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Gibson said the board needed to determine if the application was complete. Member Geetie Cheddie said it was “one of the most complete applications we’ve received,” and the members unanimously declared it complete.

We all know Geetie Cheddie is in your pocket, Torie. Nicely done. On second thought, I'm not even sure "Geetie Cheddie" is a real name a real person would choose to continue having. It sounds like the name of some kind of sharp, crumbly cheddar in a foreign language. More of the geetie cheddie, monsieur? Surely this is an imposter you've planted to convince everyone else to grant you what you want. I suppose if you know the law and have the connections, the world is yours for the taking! ..Not that I think what you're doing is that bad, at all. Best of luck Wink
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« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2014, 07:46:28 am »
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There goes the neighborhood.  RIP.
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Torie
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« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2014, 07:52:12 am »
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Gibson said the board needed to determine if the application was complete. Member Geetie Cheddie said it was “one of the most complete applications we’ve received,” and the members unanimously declared it complete.

We all know Geetie Cheddie is in your pocket, Torie. Nicely done. On second thought, I'm not even sure "Geetie Cheddie" is a real name a real person would choose to continue having. It sounds like the name of some kind of sharp, crumbly cheddar in a foreign language. More of the geetie cheddie, monsieur? Surely this is an imposter you've planted to convince everyone else to grant you what you want. I suppose if you know the law and have the connections, the world is yours for the taking! ..Not that I think what you're doing is that bad, at all. Best of luck Wink

There is a large Bengali population in Hudson, both from Calcutta and environs and Bangledesh. The lady to whom you refer is from one of those places, and was clearly the sharpest tack in the drawer among the Board.
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muon2
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« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2014, 08:11:11 am »
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Is that the standard for an area variance or a use variance, or both?  In New York, the standards are very different, with an area variance being much easier to obtain, and a use variance next to impossible.
The standards you outlined will not work if the code does not comport with what is actually on the ground. For New York, the Sasso v Osgood case is the way out of the box when that obtains. 

I'm not quite sure what you NY means by the two types of variance. In IL there are text amendments to a zoning map which are hard to obtain, but I don't think that's what you mean.

The variance standards I listed above apply to things like setbacks, parking, height and signage - I think that is what you are calling an area variance. They are easy, but are presumed invalid unless the above findings are met.

There are also special (conditional) use permits which are applicable for certain defined uses in specific zoning classes. Examples could include a church in an estate residential district or a nursing home in a business district. The application is much tougher than for a minor variance, but unlike the above variance, special uses are presumed valid if the findings are properly established. Perhaps that's what constitutes a NY use variance. An example of the standards used for findings of fact for these special use cases are:

(A) Is necessary for the public convenience at that location or, in the case of existing nonconforming uses, a special use permit will make the use more compatible with its surroundings;
(B) Is so designed, located and proposed to be operated that the public health, safety and welfare will be protected;
(C) Will not cause substantial injury to the value of other property in the neighborhood in which it is to be located; and
(D) The proposed special use is designated by this code as a listed special use in the zoning district in which the property in question is located.
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Badger
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« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2014, 05:58:56 pm »

I'm a lawyer, and even I find this thread mindbogglingly dull.
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muon2
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« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2014, 09:08:24 pm »
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I'm a lawyer, and even I find this thread mindbogglingly dull.

The first and only law class I ever took was in land use law. Tongue
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« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2014, 09:17:20 pm »
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Obviously I have no knowledge of this particular council, but is there any chance they will reject your pro bono code precisely because by reducing the need to seek variances, they will get less chances to have people wheedle them for one?
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Torie
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« Reply #10 on: April 21, 2014, 12:48:47 am »
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Obviously I have no knowledge of this particular council, but is there any chance they will reject your pro bono code precisely because by reducing the need to seek variances, they will get less chances to have people wheedle them for one?

Nah, I don't think so, TF. There is a consensus that the Zoning Code needs to be fixed. In the past, it was simply ignored, and not tested much anyway, because so little that was new was built given that the high property tax, plus low income levels, made the land essentially worthless, and it was just not economic to build. As it is, at least in the short term, I will lose money on the project. I am doing it more for the "psychic" income.

Meanwhile, another blog has made some observations, as to which I will respond in the the comment section, after I carefully compose my response. I am interested in historic preservation too, but that does not mean that each and every vacant lot should have another row house. Leavening the street with some green space does not mean to mean traducing the historic character of the street to me, and I plan to restore the existing buildings to their historic original presentation, e.g., having removed aluminum siding and ersatz brick roofing material, and I am putting in the original four divided light wood windows, which are being made in that plant I am involved in, down in Tijuana. I do plan to move one of the two door entrances on one of the buildings to the side, but as originally built, that building - the one to the left, which the lady said her grandmother lived in at one time - was a one family structure (probably long before that it was converted into a two family), with but one door in front, and the other to the side to make more efficient use of the living room space in front. (I know that from the existing interior layout, which I have gutted.) In any event, this way both buildings can look out on a garden, and have more light.

The blog host has the legalities wrong, but that is understandable, given the Byzantine nature of the Code itself. I don't need to go to the planning board, per my reading of the Code. She is also mixed up on the 1500 square foot thing, which does apply, but to lot area, not apartment size. Rumor has it the city lawyer thinks I need a use variance, but that is plainly wrong too. So it is a matter of diplomatically setting that lawyer straight, and getting him to talk to me, so he is not put in a bad light.  Diplomacy, diplomacy, diplomacy.

Oh, I was locked out of the apartment that I was renting a room in, when the other apartment dweller locked the street door, so I was "homeless" for half the night, with nothing but my wallet and no cell phone or car keys, and had to go to the police station at 1 pm, who had the ability to obtain the cell phone number of the land lady, but she did not answer, so I was out of luck. I finally found a dive about a mile away, that had some space for me and was open, and got to bed at 3 am. I went back the next morning and the street door was open, and went into the apartment, and got my stuff (the land lady was asleep in the other bedroom), and got the hell out. She then called me later in the morning in a panic I would give her a bad review, and begged me to come back for the next night. I said no thank you. Adventures galore are offered up in Hudson!  Smiley

And when I got off the plane in OC, someone had stolen my ski jacket with my prescription sun glasses in it, which was stowed in the front of the plane with my carryon bag (which was still there), since there was no space in the back where I was sitting. I have now lost 3 pairs of those within a year. Ouch! Sad
« Last Edit: April 21, 2014, 01:35:42 am by Torie »Logged

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« Reply #11 on: April 21, 2014, 05:15:42 am »
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The Elderly Gay Update is horribly boring.
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« Reply #12 on: April 21, 2014, 05:18:43 am »
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Zoning boards are the most self important douchebags I have EVER met.............
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Torie
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« Reply #13 on: April 21, 2014, 07:42:48 am »
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The Elderly Gay Update is horribly boring.

Well yes, it's kind of heavy on the legal and on but one topic. The silver lining is that it will be ephemeral. Smiley
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muon2
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« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2014, 08:20:06 am »
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Based on the hearing date of May 21, we will probably be passing each other. I'm headed to Worcester (about 2 hours east of Hudson) for my daughter's graduation on May 18. If I didn't have to head back to IL on Sunday the 19th I'd hang around to catch your hearing. Smiley
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Torie
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« Reply #15 on: April 21, 2014, 08:36:02 am »
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Based on the hearing date of May 21, we will probably be passing each other. I'm headed to Worcester (about 2 hours east of Hudson) for my daughter's graduation on May 18. If I didn't have to head back to IL on Sunday the 19th I'd hang around to catch your hearing. Smiley

That is too bad. I'd love to show you around the town, and introduce you to the powers that be inasmuch as you were once a mayor yourself. I had breakfast with the former mayor for 7 terms on Saturday, Rick Scalia.  He was quite a fascinating man. Living in a small intimate pond is going to be a very different life experience than living in a huge anonymous one. I am looking forward to the change of venue. Smiley
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Ernest
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« Reply #16 on: April 21, 2014, 12:10:09 pm »
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And when I got off the plane in OC, someone had stolen my ski jacket with my prescription sun glasses in it, which was stowed in the front of the plane with my carryon bag (which was still there), since there was no space in the back where I was sitting. I have now lost 3 pairs of those within a year. Ouch! Sad

I feel your pain figuratively as while I have not lost any, I do quite treasure my prescription polarized sun glasses.  Even when it's cloudy I tend to wear them as they really cut the glare.
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« Reply #17 on: April 21, 2014, 09:29:37 pm »
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I laughed at this bit (and yes, I did catch your clarification):

Quote
His goal is to decrease the density on Robinson Street, which in his expressed opinion is "horrible"--an opinion not shared by those interested in preserving neighborhood character.

It's a shame that so many people tend to see things like "neighborhood character" and "historic preservation" in such black and white terms.
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