Planning continues for Best Western motel
WATKINS GLEN--The Watkins Glen Zoning Board called their Thursday, July 27 meeting to order at 7 p.m. in a hot, village meeting room with the air-conditioning turned off and a standing-room only crowd after the available seats were taken.
At issue was the building project of Bharat Patel and his new business venture in Watkins Glen.
Currently, Patel owns the Seneca Clipper motel, the Budget Inn, the Relax Inn and the Falls Inn in Watkins and Montour Falls. Patel wants to demolish the existing Watkins Glen Seneca Clipper structure, located at 436 S. Franklin St., and build a new three-story, 42 room, Best Western motel on the same site.
The zoning board met to consider four variances Patel requested for the motel. The variances included the number of parking spaces, set-back from the existing properties to the north and south, the height of the proposed three-story building and the front yard set back.
As the hearing got started, Zoning Board Chair Mark Stephany reminded the audience they were welcome to witness the proceeding- but said only the board members, Patel and his agent would be allowed to speak during the meeting. Stephany said, "This presentation is for the board members."
One of the audience members was Sandra Bartone. Bartone owns the historic two-story yellow-brick home at 430 S. Franklin St. which is the first house directly north of the proposed new motel. Bartone is opposed to the project and invited neighbors, family and friends to attend last week's zoning meeting. The Watkins resident also has retained an attorney to represent her and her interests against the building project.
Bartone said she emailed a copy of her attorney's letter to the zoning board office on Tuesday, July 26. Her letter argued that the Patel variances should be denied because of a number of reasons. The key points included: Bartone's property is located in the Watkins Glen designated business transition district and because of this the property should be protected from any development that is not consistent with the existing residential use, set-back space from the property and the village street is not according to current ordinances and parking areas will be under-size for the size of the new proposed motel.
The zoning board went through the zoning criteria process for each one of Patel's variances.
At the end of nearly two hours, the zoning board approved three of the variances (parking spaces, the three-story building and the front yard set-back) but denied the variance for the side yard setback. Patel proposed only an eight foot set-back for the north side of the motel building. The current village ordinance calls for 25 feet. The south side set-back was even less. This means that Patel will need to re-submit his revised motel plans to the zoning board again for approval and then also get approval from the planning board.
After the meeting, Patel said, "We know we have a number of steps to go through for this project and we will continue with the process."
Bartone said she was extremely disappointed in the meeting. Bartone said, "The board members seemed unprepared to discuss a number of the points that my attorney raised. A couple of the board members didn't even see copies of our letter until they arrived at the meeting on Thursday night. We will continue to fight this with legal action."