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February 26, 2013

ZBA: House must be single-family home

By Denise Richardson
The Daily Star

---- — The Oneonta Zoning Board of Appeals ruled Monday that 10 Irving Place is to be used as a single-family home or occupied by no more than three unrelated individuals.

Also, the property owner must apply to the city code enforcement office for a building permit for work already done at the property, ZBA Chairman Ed May said.

Robert Martella, owner of 10 Irving Place, sought a code interpretation from the ZBA for use of the property. After the meeting, he had no comment.

The attached garage at 10 Irving Place has been converted into two bedrooms, according to the city code office, and the third-floor attic was turned into a bedroom without first obtaining a building permit. The residence has been occupied by more than three unrelated individuals allowed under city code.

The interpretation request was stipulated in a settlement in Oneonta City Court on May 22 regarding code violations at 10 Irving Place for which Martella had been cited and to which he pleaded guilty.

On Monday night, about 10 people, including some long-time Irving Place residents who summarized the residential history of the street, attended the meeting in Common Council Chambers. May said residents’ testimony indicated that the property wasn’t over-occupied before Martella’s ownership.

In October, Martella’s request for review was tabled after a dispute over zoning designations. On Monday night, commissioners’ discussion focused on Martella’s use of the property, whether it was legal and if the use should be allowed to continue.

Martella attorney Brody Smith argued before the ZBA on Monday that Martella, who used the residence as student housing before the city code changed recently, should be allowed to continue that use.

“I don’t believe the use was illegal,’’ Smith said.

ZBA Commissioner Paul Robinson said Martella didn’t have any paperwork to document that the use was a legal rental. Robinson, a former code-enforcement officer in Franklin, said he wouldn’t approve “grandfathering’’ or extending the illegal use.

May said Martella also lacked required site plan review and approval for work done at the property.

In other business Monday night, commissioners approved a request from Matt Bechtold to build a residential addition at 78 East St.