ONEONTA _ Members of the public will have another chance to weigh in on a proposal by the Common Council designed to define what is and isn't a family for zoning purposes.

A public hearing on Ordinance No. 3 of 2009 before Mayor John Nader is set for the start of at the Common Council meeting at 7:30 p.m. tonight in City Hall. Aldermen voted unanimously in favor of the measure Aug. 4 after a public hearing.

A city ordinance in place since the 1970s governing what is a family was recently ruled unconstitutional by state Supreme Court Justice Michael Coccoma after the owner of a Walnut Street house filed an Article 78 proceeding against the city.

A single-dwelling unit with four or more unrelated residents was considered a boarding house under Oneonta's zoning laws and was forbidden in the section of the city subject to the court case.

City officials have said the purpose of such restrictions was designed to preserve the quality of life in city neighborhoods

A new ordinance defining the term "functional family unit" is designed to protect the city from having too many unrelated people living in a single-dwelling unit, while still allowing non-traditional family units more leeway, Nader said.

"I think that's a very progressive piece of legislation," Nader said.

Critics of the measure, including mayoral candidate Jason Corrigan, have said the proposed ordinance could lead to discrimination and result in more lawsuits against the city.

Nader is expected to indicate whether he will sign the legislation at the end of tonight's meeting.

The Common Council would need a two-thirds majority vote to adopt the ordinance without the mayor's signature.

In other business, aldermen are also expected to vote on the provisional appointment of John Zielinski as chamberlain, with an annual salary of $65,000. The appointment will be retroactive to Aug. 10.

Zielinski, of the Utica area, was last employed by Mohawk Valley EDGE, an economic development organization serving Herkimer and Oneida counties. He will fill a void left by the sudden resignation of the city's original replacement for David Martindale, who retired as chamberlain July 1.

The city chamberlain's office, according to the city's website, oversees the billing and collection of taxes, water and sewer fees, parking tickets and ambulance services. The office also administers the city's budget, debt and financial accounts.

Recommended for you