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Despite closer vote, American Asphalt denied by ZBA again

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MASSENA - Two representatives and a reworked variance proposal did not make a difference in American Asphalt Inc.’s latest efforts in pursuit of adding a laundromat to the vacant former Homestead Dairy building on West Hatfield Street.

George Malone, as well as co-owner Shawn B. Thrana, appeared in front of the Massena Zoning Board of Appeals Tuesday night in their third attempt to gain a variance for the property.

In February, Mr. Thrana was denied his request to convert the building into four apartments after originally being given permission for two. In October, Mr. Malone approached the board to request the addition of a third apartment and a laundromat, but was also denied.

“I’m looking to put 18 washers and 18 dryers in the building. ... In the front of the building I’m going to put commercial windows and doors on the front. The whole front area is for parking,” Mr. Thrana said. “We would probably be (open) from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

“For the outside (lighting) right now we’re going to have Massena Electric put up a big light, which lights up the entire parking lot and also I’m going to put more lighting on the outside of the building.”

Mr. Thrana added that he already installed two washer and dryer machines for the current tenants to use.

Code enforcement secretary Avis Hazelton said last week that businesses are not typically permitted in a Residential B area. Zoning regulations in the area also limit property owners to a maximum of two apartments in a structure.

Before voting on the issue, the board heard from two residents of West Hatfield Street.

“Many, many neighbors, many kids walk to school (to) Nightengale Elementary, junior high, and senior high. Traffic is real heavy with kids, when they’re out playing all of the time. ... Nobody is out patrolling things like this either,” Patricia O’Brien said. “They knew this when they bought the building. They’ve been before the board, and they’ve tried to get more apartments in there. They’re all prepared for (the board) to say yes. I don’t know how many times they keep coming before you. How many times can they keep coming before the board with another idea? This is a huge safety (issue) for the children in that area.”

“I live across the street actually. I had a concern with the additional apartment, but I don’t have as big a concern about the laundromat,” Town Supervisor Joseph D. Gray added. “I share some of Ms. O’Brien’s concerns with traffic. There’s a lot there already. But I’m more concerned that it is residential. Everybody knew that when it was purchased and limited to two apartments. So my concern has always been that we’re going to have multiple apartments there. ... I can think of worse things to be there for a business, so my short answer is no, I’m not opposed.”

American Asphalt purchased the building and an associated parking lot for $12,700 in 2012 at the St. Lawrence County tax sale. The building is one story and totals 3,500 square feet.

After receiving a motion for approval, board members Barbara Morrow and Diana Dufresne voted in support of the variance. Board members Frank Lallier and Kevin Kerr voted against the project though, resulting in a denial.

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