Zamelis Represents Accountant,
Dental Practice, Funeral Parlor
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
COOPERSTOWN — A few minutes ago, a lawsuit was filed in Otsego County Supreme Court to block the 65-unit Lofts on Dietz development in the City of Oneonta.
Atty. Douglas Zamelis, Springfield Center, filed the suit on behalf five proprietors of businesses near the Dietz Street parking lot objecting to parking spaces in the lot that would be lost due to the Lofts project.
They are accountant Johna Peachin, whose Peachin Associates is at Dietz and Main; John and Kathleen Pietrobono, whose Lewis, Hurley & Pietrobono Funeral Home is at 51 Dietz St., and dentists Robert B. Jr. and Gerald Pondolfino of Pondolfino Dental Associates, 39 Dietz.
“This is America,” said Mayor Gary Herzig when alerted to the development. “Anybody is entitled to sue anybody else for whatever reason they want to, whether there’s a basis or not. I believe there is no ground for any action.”
The project went through site plan review and the SEQRA environmental process “by the book,” the mayor said, noting there were three or four opportunities for the public to provide input. “The planning commissioners did their homework,” he said.
The business owners allege in their Article 78 petition and complaint that the city Planning Commission violated the city’s municipal code and zoning laws by improperly waiving site plan details and off-street parking and 50-foot setback requirements for multi-family residential facilities in the MU-1 district, according to a press release. The Planning Commission deferred the parking issue to the city for future unspecified resolution.
The business owners assert that code compliance would have resulted in the loss of more than 200 of the 255 parking spaces in the Dietz Street parking lot. City Hall has said the project will use 80 of the spaces.
The plaintiffs believe that much of that loss is likely to occur and that this will have a material adverse impact on their businesses, employees and clients.
Public officials are responsible for enacting, enforcing, and changing zoning laws (which exist to protect current property and business owners) for the benefit of the community as a whole, not for the benefit of a particular property owner or developer. The capricious character of the approval process was a concerted effort of all involved to rubber stamp the project quickly to satisfy the developer’s timeline. The business owners are concerned that inappropriate waiver of zoning law requirements establishes an adverse precedent for future development projects, and a threat to the character of their community.