Filing of a zoning measure for the heritage district

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An ordinance authorizing the zoning change of Chapter 80 of the Code of Ordinances of Rome and related maps to include a new heritage district-Erie Canal zone for the Erie Canal village, was tabled at the common council meeting on Wednesday held in the council chamber of the town hall.

Council members – with the exception of first ward councilor John M. Sparace and sixth ward councilor Riccardo D. Dursi Jr. who were excused – unanimously filed the order that the new code of zoning can be submitted to the city’s planning council for review, and for public comment to hear on the proposed zoning change.

Meanwhile, council members unanimously approved a resolution asking the city clerk to announce a public hearing on the new zoning code, to be held at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, September 8, before the regular meeting. of the municipal council.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Bobbie O’Brien of Martin Drive, administrator of the Historical Society of Rome, provided a history of the property on Rome-New London Road which includes the Erie Canal Village, Fort Bull / Wood Creek and Rome Sports Hall of Fame.

O’Brien expressed that she was in favor of creating the Special Zone, but with one significant change – to address Erie Canal Village specifically and not include Fort Bull / Fort Wood Creek, as the site was intended to “preservation” and not to development. She explained that on October 24, 2001, the Senate and State Assembly passed the city’s ability to sell the parks which now include over 200 acres encompassing land belonging to Rome’s Sports Hall of Fame. as a sports museum, and for the then owner, Rail Star Corporation, will continue to operate a living history museum and the Rome History Society to protect and preserve historic Fort Bull.

On October 31, 2002, the city and Rail Star reached an agreement and signed the deed of sale for the Olde Erie Canal Village.

“It is important to remember the requirement to continue to operate the village as a living history museum, as established by the state. By the way, the state, and later the city, included a reversion case saying that if properties cease to be used for the purposes provided for by law, the city of Rome could invoke this clause, ”O ‘explained. Brien. “Rail Star was then sold to Wheel Horse on July 14, 2016 and then sold again on April 3, 2019 to the current owner, Cross Roads Redemption Church. The act of which, through various properties, included the stipulation of the city that it “remains open to the general public, and in the event that said use is discontinued for a period of 90 consecutive days or more, with the exception of seasonal closure, the title may revert to the city of Rome.

O’Brien further explained that the proposed new zoning district would circumvent a “double trouble”, the failure of the ECV site to function as required since 2014, and the change in the use of the area by the city in 2018. In early 2020, current owner Richard Rios was denied a building permit due to pre-existing conditions that would have allowed Cross Roads Redemption Church to operate the village had expired.

She said the remedy would have been to complete a use waiver application and appear before the city’s zoning appeal board, which never happened. If this were the case, ZBA could have authorized a use waiver allowing the owner to remedy building code violations at the site and reopen the ECV, or denying the use waiver would have provided the opportunity to the owner. council to create legislation for the new area at the time, O’Brien said.

But under the proposed new zone legislation, O’Brien said two things are of concern. One was the inclusion of the Fort Bull and Fort Wood Creek sites in legislation, and the other was the reference to an “art gallery,” which would not include a cultural facility such as a library. or a museum.

“It is the responsibility of the Historical Society of Rome, as mandated by the state, to protect and preserve the historic Fort Bull (which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places). Obviously, the owners of the village did not live up to their respective deed obligations, ”said O’Brien. “Their mandate is not the preservation of a colonial-era battlefield, which has been made eminently clear by the abomination of a so-called fort facade which has been attempted to be erected without no permits from the city or, more importantly, using the appropriate state authorities and archaeological services.representation with regard to soil disturbance.

She said: “To this day, their actions do not reflect a group or entity that cares the least about historic preservation. Therefore, I respectfully request that you remove any reference to Fort Bull or Fort Wood Creek in this new Zone District. You create it specifically for a church to operate Erie Canal Village. There are hundreds of years of canal heritage and multiple canals on this property to cover more than their state and city mandated activities of Rome.

The RHS administrator also reiterated that the wording in the legislation should be changed to “cultural facility” rather than “art gallery”.

“Although there is no definition of use for the museum in this article, perhaps it would be more relevant to change from art gallery to cultural installation and avoid future problems with usage allowances, ”she said. O’Brien also requested that Order 9468, filed with the city clerk’s office, include Exhibit A in the attachments and that it be updated on the city’s website as required by law.

Third Ward Councilor Kimberly Rogers explained how she, along with Joint Council President Stephanie Viscelli and Sixth Ward Councilor Riccardo D. Dursi Jr., prepared and “worked for weeks” on the proposed legislation. for the zone change and agreed that it was an “oversight” not to include “permitted use” in the document, stating that she would recommend an amendment later in the meeting.

Rogers explained that when the city owned the property, the neighborhood was in a preservation zone. She said that when the city operated the ECV if you were a private owner you wouldn’t be able to create the ECV so when the property was sold it was left as a preservation district and the city did not correct this in 2018 which was contradictory for anyone to have an act restriction.

“So the creation of the new district rectifies this situation,” Rogers said. “Any owner – Mr. Rios, or if he sold or donated it at any time – whoever owns it should have the right to operate it as a living history museum. It remains to be seen if Rios is doing something or if a future owner is doing something to make it a tourist establishment. “He (Rios) has a lot of work to do on the buildings there. Shull House was about to collapse, and now it has collapsed.

She said, “I don’t know the last time the Codes Office was there, but I think we need to go to the site and look at the condition of the buildings and see where they are. Not all of them had problems with the code, but the vast majority did, and we need to get there to do another assessment. “

As for the other notes she made during O’Brien’s comments, “Three plots were included in the initial sale” of the property, “Rome Sports Hall of Fame, Fort Bull and Erie Canal Village” Rogers said. “… We took RHS out because they don’t want development” of the property, “their goal is to preserve this land. The Rome Sports Hall of Fame wants to be and has asked to be a party in this neighborhood. They are in favor of the possibility of organizing a barbecue in the parking lot as authorized temporary uses where they can get a permit. “

Joint Council President Stephanie Viscelli said she welcomed the “tweaks” made to the language of the legislation.

“Sir. Rios pointed out to us, as was our intention, to get away from anyone who wanted to bring Erie Canal Village back, because that’s what the town would like, and we don’t want to be a hindrance to. that, “said Viscelli.” I understand the position of wanting to keep Fort Bull separate, because the Sports Hall of Fame wanted to be included. “

Before Ordinance 9468 amending Chapter 80 of the Rome Ordinance Code to include the new Heritage District-Erie Canal was put to a vote, Rogers called for the legislation to be amended to “use of living history” so that the board sees correct use, which was unanimously approved. The ordinance itself was then tabled unanimously by the council.


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