WNY Zoning Board approves controversial Boulevard East high rise
Jan 25, 2013 | 9513 views | 3 3 comments | 147 147 recommendations | email to a friend | print
WEST NEW YORK – The zoning board voted 5-2 Thursday night to approve the application for a controversial luxury high-rise on the corner of 67th St. and Boulevard East that residents have said would increase congestion and parking issues in the area, and work against the general aesthetics of the neighborhood.

Despite a damning opinion of the application by Zoning Board Chairman Kenneth Blane, who voted against the application, the board voted in favor of Capodagli Properties, an out-of-town developer who wished to build the 13-story Meridia Le Boulevard complex on the site of a decrepit Exxon station.

Blane said that the sheer number of variances from the town’s zoning laws that the application required convinced him that to vote in favor of Capodagli would essentially be to “usurp the authority of the town’s founding fathers.”

“To me, it seems that this application is simply trying to cram an elephant into a hamster cage,” he said.

Still, the board, with the exception of Blane and David Rivera, voted to approve the high rise.

Alvaro Alonso, the attorney for Capodagli, said he thought the decision was merited.

“I think the board made the correct decision,” he said. “They are required to consider all of the evidence, and I believe that evidence supported granting the variances.”

The application required 13 such variances, which range from the minimum allowed lot surface area (zoning laws require an elevator building to have 40,000 square feet, the Exxon lot is only 13,194 square feet) to the percentage of said lot which is allowed to be occupied by the building (the law requires that only 75 percent can be occupied, while Meridia would occupy 95 percent of the lots). Additionally, the town, which is the third most densely-populated in the country, requires that only 80 units can be built per acre, while the Meridia would have 406 units per acre.

Joshua Breakstone, who has been at the forefront of rallying West New York residents against the proposed development, expressed disbelief at the board’s decision.

“It’s an absolute disgrace,” he said. “It’s almost as if they were instructed how to vote.”

Look for a full report on the board’s decision in next weekend’s edition of the Hudson Reporter. –Dean DeChiaro
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February 04, 2013
I too am disappointed in the results, if only because so many variances were grievously ignored!

I believe our only course of action is to alert other lawmakers in the state. I have just written a letter to the governor and plan to continue writing to other representatives. We are not helpless in this situation, but must be vigilant in making sure that the rules of our town are followed.
January 27, 2013
JPAL330 - your comments are spot on. Chairman Blane and David Rivera were the only members of the zoning board that throughout the months of testimony seemed to be paying attention. Even after Chairman Blane made an eloquent and important summation of the obvious reasons the project should be denied, the following members, who seemed not to hear a word of what he said, voted in favor of the over-sized and out of place building which is in direct violation of the WNY Zoning regulations!

Julio Garcia Made the motion

Armando Alvarez second

Nelly Vaszquez voted yes

Jesus Alvarado voted Yes

Melissa Rodriguez voted Yes

It would have been wise of any ONE of these individuals (not just politically smart, but socially intelligent) that given the controversial nature of this project in the very least they explain the rationale for their vote in order to avoid the appearance of political cronyism. It is transparent and obvious that they had no factual or legal reason to approve it but that likely they didn't understand what had been said throughout the many hearings, or they don't fully understand the zoning laws and their duties to the town, or, they were directed to vote in favor of the project.

This behavior and negligence should be an alarm to the residents of this town. As JPAL330 points out, these incompetent board members are costing taxpayer money for an appeal to a faulty decision that should have been stopped at the zoning board level. These people should be held not only accountable, but responsible for their failure to uphold their duties. Does anyone know if these people have a "fiduciary duty" to the people of the town? Have they breached it?

January 26, 2013
The approval of this project by 5 of the board members - several of whom are recent appointees who were not even present for more than half of the hearings - is troubling to say the least, as it was totally unsupported by the evidence presented by the petitioner, and so contrary to the West New York Zoning Laws.

The board's decision effectively eviscerated the West NY Zoning Code, since - with 12 major variances and four waivers - there is no aspect of this project that conforms to the code.

I think the board members who voted in favor of this project were, in the very least, derelict in their duties, as they rendered the zoning laws meaningless by their vote of approval. That is certainly not their purpose, or their right, and not one of them defended his or her vote by providing a single reason for doing so. I seriously question the integrity of their votes and their qualifications to make decisions that affect this town, its residents and our quality of life.

The many, many flaws in this proposal were eloquently enumerated by Zoning Board Chairman Kenneth Blane, who voted against the project, as did board member David Rivera. Yet, despite the numerous compelling reasons for rejecting the project – as set forth by Mr. Blane and by the Versailles’ attorney, Mr. Kantowitz, in his summation and as demonstrated by the complete record of these proceedings - the five board members mindlessly cast their votes of approval, without a single word of explanation from any of them. What a disgrace!

Significantly, not one of these five board members asked a single question of the applicant’s witnesses throughout these proceedings.

The Board’s approval of the Meridia project is indefensible. We will appeal this decision and I am confident that we will ultimately prevail before an independent, unbiased and intelligent court. But it is unfortunate that the irresponsible actions of the five board members will cost the taxpayers of this town the expense of defending against the appeal.