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Wed., Oct. 7
Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Massena zoning board denies Homestead Dairy apartments


MASSENA - The village’s Zoning Board of Appeals has rejected a proposal to convert the former Homestead Dairy building at 106 West Hatfield St. into four apartments.

Shawn B. Thrana of American Asphalt, LLC, was seeking a use variance to create four three-bedroom apartments in the vacant one-story structure.

Board members voted 4-0 to deny the varience request, with chairman Noel Van Dusen being absent at last Tuesday’s meeting. Board member Frank Lallier said the board felt there was not enough space in the 3,500 square foot-structure for four three-bedroom apartments, and were concerned about fire safety with there being only one entrance and exit for the building.

“There could be six to 10 people in that building with only one way to get out. That’s a problem,” Mr. Lallier said.

Mayor James F. Hidy, who attended the board meeting, voiced his concerns about staying in line with the zoning for that area, which limits property owners to a maximum of two apartments per structure. Mr. Hidy noted that American Asphalt has a track record of success at rehabilitating vacant properties and turning them into quality apartments, but agreed with the board’s decision to deny the variance request.

“My thing is that we stay within the code. If it calls for two apartments (per structure) there should only be two apartments,” Mr. Hidy said. “We can’t congest these neighborhoods so someone can turn a buck.”

American Asphalt Inc. purchased the building at 106 W. Hatfield St. and an associated parking lot for $12,700 last fall at the St. Lawrence County tax sale.

Mr. Thrana said at the time he was considering a six-unit apartment building or a sports-themed bar and restaurant. Another possibility, he said, was to convert part of the building into a beer store and bottle redemption center and turn the rest into a coin-operated laundry. He noted he planned to replace the building’s roof and parking lot.

The village board had been exploring the building’s demolition at the time of it sale. Former Code Enforcement Officer Gregory C. Fregoe had issued a report recommending the building come down because it was in “terrible shape.”His recommendation was nonbinding.

Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray, who lives near the building, had urged the village board at a meeting earlier in October to stipulate that anyone who purchased it in a tax sale would have to demolish it. He said the mayor was “misguided” in his support for rehabilitating the building and hoped the rest of the board would still proceed with demolishing it.

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