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Massena board to hold hearing on Frenchie’s expansion

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MASSENA - The village Board of Trustees may soon decide the fate of the final phase of the Frenchie’s Chevrolet expansion project.

The board unanimously voted last week to establish a public hearing at 5:30 p.m. Oct. 2 on the proposed expansion. After that, the board may approve a re-zoning of adjacent land to allow Frenchie’s to finish the project.

Officials issued a stop-work order in July on the East Orvis Street project because a portion of the $1.4 million expansion falls within 30 feet of neighboring homes on Burney Avenue. Since then, Code Enforcement Officer Gregory C. Fregoe rescinded the original permit covering the entire project, which he said he issued in error, and broke the expansion into several different pieces. All of the pieces, except the construction of a driveway along the building’s west side, have since been approved by either the village’s planning board or the zoning board of appeals.

A new design will make Frenchie’s service area a drive-through facility. Customers will drive into the building and deliver their car to a technician. When the car is ready, the owner will exit the other side of the building on a driveway along the rear of properties on Burney Avenue, Frenchie’s attorney Daniel S. Pease previously said. Mr. Coupal is pursuing a rezone for a portion of his four Burney Avenue rental properties in order to construct the driveway.

That driveway is the sticking point between Frenchie’s management, who say it’s necessary to make the expansion functional, and a couple of Burney Avenue neighbors who say the project comes too close to their property and is destroying the neighborhood’s quality-of-life. Lois Guay has lived in 9 Burney, next to Mr. Coupal’s rental properties, for nearly 60 years. Neither she or her companion, Mary Moran, plan on moving anytime soon, Ms. Moran previously said.

The village board waited for the planning board to endorse the re-zoning proposal before it would consider it. The planning board voted 5-1 to do recommend the proposal, with Frank Hutt dissenting.

Mayor James F. Hidy and Trustee Albert C. “Herb” Deshaies are encouraging a large turnout at the hearing before the vote. Mr. Hidy said the public’s input will factor into his final decision. He is leaning toward supporting the re-zoning since the planning board previously voted to recommend it.

“That’s why we have them there, to help guide us through some of the muckiness that comes up from time to time,” Mr. Hidy said. “That’s why they are part of the process, to advise.”

Trustee Francis J. Carvel said he has spoken with all sides in the issue and will listen to the public before he reaches a decision.

“I’m interested in seeing what the public has to say,” Mr. Carvel said. “I’m always open to new information and ideas.”

Mr. Deshaies said he hadn’t yet made up his mind.

“It’s tearing me apart,” he said. “All I can think of is David and Goliath.”

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