Owner of NYSEG building seeks zoning change in Albion

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 December 2014 at 12:00 am

After sitting vacant, building reclassified as residential

Photo by Tom Rivers – The former New York State Electric and Gas building at 366 Washington St. had its zoning changed from commercial to residential after the building sat empty for more than a year. The new owner wants the zoning to be changed to allow for business uses.

ALBION – Charles Maloy sees a vacant building on Washington Street as a site with potential for employees and business, all generating economic activity in the village.

Maloy recently purchased the former New York State Electric and Gas building at 366 Washington St. The 4,215-square-foot building is in good shape and Maloy said it would make for an ideal site for businesses that do auto repair, construction, HVAC, roofing/siding, distribution, storage, landscaping as well as other uses.

There is a big obstacle to the site’s reuse: the location’s zoning. It is zoned residential. The site was zoned for commercial use but after it sat vacant for more than a year, the zoning was changed to residential.

Washington Street is considered a residential street. However, Maloy noted the Albion Correctional Facility is down the street and the Village DPW garage is at the corner of King and Washington streets. There are several vacant lots on the street. A new house hasn’t been built on the street since 1992, he told the Village Board last week.

Maloy said there is little chance the NYSEG building would be redeveloped for housing. The site is assessed for $192,000.

“Without a solution this property will be obsolete,” Maloy told the Village Board. “It is well built, very versatile and would lend itself to commercial uses.”

The village doesn’t want to spot zone properties, assigning zoning to sites that don’t match neighboring properties.

Code Enforcement Officer Ron Vendetti sees two viable alternatives that avoid spot zoning. The former NYSEG property backs up to a commercial district on Route 31. The back of the NYSEG property touches the railroad tracks and a district that is zoned commercial. The village could zone the property commercial and there wouldn’t be spot zoning.

Vendetti has also suggested an adaptive overlay district for some of the vacant commercial sites in the village in residential neighborhoods. Many of the sites had their zoning reverted to residential, which makes it difficult for the buildings to be reused, Vendetti told the board.

The adaptive reuse proposal would allow for special permits to be issued from the village for some of the sites. Vendetti said the special permits would require more oversight and control from the village than if the sites were zoned commercial.

He sees the plan as a way to get more vacant structures as a contributing assets to the community. He noted the village has struggled in recent years with a shrinking tax base.

Village Board members said they want to consider the options and will get back to Maloy soon.

“I took a chance on it,” Maloy, a Rochester resident, told the board. “The highest and best use for it is as a commercial building.”