OGDENSBURG Gilbert J. Jones has settled his dispute with the city over a 480-square-foot concession building erected on his Marina District property, but the Plattsburgh developer said he has lost valuable time and money in the process.
Ive lost most of the summer, he said. I had someone who wanted to lease the thing, but theyre pulling back from the project now. I have a lot of money tied up in it and now Im not going to get my return.
Mr. Jones had a falling-out with the city after he was asked to stop work on the building. The Ogdensburg Planning Board previously approved the construction of a harbormaster kiosk with restrooms, but not the buildings kitchen, service window or dining deck.
The majority of the building thats down there was set aside for the kitchen and the serving area and the deck area, said Andrea L. Smith, interim director of planning and development. That cannot be built; that requires the site plan approval. He is not supposed to pursue the construction of those areas.
Mr. Jones contended he should have been allowed to continue construction, then approach the city with his plans for a concession stand.
They never should have shut me down, he said. I could have built the building and then gone before the zoning board to request a change in use.
Ms. Smith said Mr. Jones halted construction voluntarily, a contention he disputes.
The city told me to stop construction, he said.
Ogdensburgs municipal code requires Planning Board review for change of use before construction, Ms. Smith said and for good reason.
The use dictates a number of things, like the number of parking spaces that would be required, she said. Obviously the harbormasters kiosk that is part-time employment; it requires fewer parking spaces than a concession. Prior to going before the Planning Board, developers work alongside the Planning Department to make sure there is going to be plenty of access for emergency vehicles.
Mr. Jones is concerned the dispute with the city will damage his image.
I feel embarrassed because of all this, he said. I hate to have people saying I tried to do something without permits. I had a permit for the building, just not the use. They wanted to make an example out of me.
The city had no intention of targeting Mr. Jones, Ms. Smith said.
I dont think he was trying to be malicious; I think he was very well-intentioned, she said. When people go about doing things sometimes they are not aware of the code, and our job is to make them aware.
Mr. Joness agreement with the city allows him to proceed with the buildings construction, but no work may be done on the kitchen or serving area, Ms. Smith said.
Work has resumed on adjacent apartments and the former Ramada Inn at the site, Mr. Jones said. However, the Ogdensburg Cinemas remains padlocked. Mr. Jones sid he isnt sure when the theater will reopen, citing the need for two new digital projectors costing $100,000 apiece.