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Portion of Frenchie’s expansion resumes

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MASSENA - Workers resumed construction on a portion of Frenchie’s Chevrolet’s expansion Friday.

The village code enforcement office issued a stop-work order Monday afternoon because a portion of the Frenchie’s expansion falls within 30 feet of neighboring homes on Burney Avenue and requires a variance to proceed. Since then, Code Enforcement Officer Gregory C. Fregoe rescinded the original building permit covering the entire project, which he said he issued in error.

He then reissued a permit only for work on the front offices facing East Orvis Street, which he said is far enough away from the neighboring properties and does not need a variance. He said he consulted with the state Department of State and St. Lawrence County Planning Office before reissuing the permit for that portion.

The rest of the building expansion remains halted, Mr. Fregoe said, and will be broken into several phases of work.

Dealership owner Real “Frenchie” Coupal has applied for a variance from the village zoning board to proceed with a 5-foot, 6-inch expansion of the west side of his automotive shop closest to the Burney Avenue houses. A second variance is also needed to allow commercial use in the residential area, specific to a driveway that would run along the rear of four Burney Avenue homes owned by Mr. Coupal.

The zoning board will consider Mr. Coupal’s project at a meeting on Aug. 7.

“Whatever the zoning board decides will determine whether we can continue,” he said. “He may have to change his design.

“We’re trying to work with him,” Mr. Fregoe said.

Mr. Coupal declined comment on Friday.

Mary C. Moran, a Burney Avenue neighbor who complained to the village about the project, said she had no problem with work proceeding on the front of the building. Ms. Moran lives in one of the homes not owned by Mr. Coupal.

“It doesn’t already affect us,” she said. “It’s already commercial property.”

She is planning to attend next month’s meeting to voice her opposition to Frenchie’s application for expansion and says she is prepared to file an Article 78 lawsuit in state supreme court if the zoning board issues a variance allowing the dealership to proceed.

“We’re going to do whatever is humanly possible to prevent him from ruining this neighborhood,” she said.

She was initially pleased by Mayor James F. Hidy’s response to the situation, but was later appalled by a follow-up conversation she had with him Friday. She said the mayor asked her if she and Lois Guay would consider moving out of their Burney Avenue home.

Ms. Guay has lived in her house for nearly 60 years, and neither she or Ms. Moran plan on moving.

“I was flabbergasted,” Ms. Moran said. “This is the only place she has ever known. It will never be out of the family’s hands.

“For the mayor to ask a question like that, I really began to feel my stomach churn,” she said. “Everyone who knows us knows Frenchie will never own this property.”

Mr. Hidy said he was not suggesting Ms. Moran move and was only trying to work with everyone involved.

“It was a simple question. I could care less if she moves or not,” he said. “We’re doing everything necessary to fall within the parameters of the code.”

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