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Albion debates whether former daycare should be turned into 10-unit housing

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 April 2013 at 12:00 am

Photo by Tom Rivers – The former Agri-Business Child Development is a vacant 5,000-square-foot structure on West State Street. Village officials are debating a plan to turn the site into 10 “efficiency units” that would each have their own bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.

ALBION – It has sat vacant for at least three years and village officials question if a 5,000-square-foot former child care center would ever be used as a residential site for families, the building’s current zoning.

Agri-Business Child Development vacated the premises several years ago for a new building, “Grace’s Place,” in Holley at the Holley Business Park.

Albion resident Linda Smith has presented a plan for the Albion building at 448 West State St., next to the Elks Lodge. Smith would like to carve the building into 10 “efficiency units” that would each have their own bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.

That would not be permitted under the site’s current residential zoning, which allows for single or multi-family housing.

“Ultimately, you’d like to see R-1, but what do you do with the property?” Mayor Dean Theodorakos asked Village Board members on Wednesday.

The village could create an overlay district allowing for an adaptive reuse of the site, said Code Enforcement Officer Ron Vendetti. Smith would then have to apply for a special use permit for her project, and neighbors could weigh in during a public hearing.

“We have a property that isn’t occupiable,” Vendetti told the board on Wednesday. “What do you want to do with it?”

Village attorney John Gavenda said Smith’s plan has already worried neighbors, and prompted a potential homebuyer in the neighborhood to back out of a sale. He said the project is contrary to the recently approved Albion comprehensive plan that is against “high-density housing” in the village.

Trustee Kevin Sheehan said he has fielded phone calls from residents, including leaders of the Elks.

“There’s some concern in the area,” he said.

The village intends to send letters to neighbors on the street, informing them of the possible use for the building. The Planning Board is expected to discuss the zoning change and Smith’s proposal during its 7 p.m. meeting on May 15 at the Village Hall.

Smith has revised an earlier proposal for the site. She initially suggested turning it into a boarding house with 20 units. Residents would have shared bathrooms and kitchen space in that scenario.