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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, November 20, 2008

Dogged pursuit
Dimuras sue New Scotland Planning Board again

By Jo E. Prout

NEW SCOTLAND — The planning board is being sued by the Dimura family, again, this time for approving access from Salem Court to the private road Fielding Way. The ongoing controversy centers on neighbors challenging access on a road to a dog kennel.

The most recent suit was filed last month with Albany County’s Supreme Court, the lowest level in the state’s three-tiered system.

At its Sept. 2 meeting, the planning board had approved a request by neighbors to place 100 yards of fill to create a shared driveway for Gregory and Mary Ferentino and the owners of neighboring land formerly owned by Walter and Catherine Vivenzio.

The board had also approved in September an amendment to the Ferentinos’ special use permit to allow them to use the connected driveway for commercial access to a kennel on the Ferentino property.

The Dimuras, of Fielding Way, and residents of Salem Court filed an Article 78 proceeding in October against the planning board, the Ferentinos, the Vivenzios, and the new owners of the Vivenzio property, Hyunjong and Eunkyung Bahn. An Article 78 suit is a way citizens can challenge government decisions.  Planning board members Charles Voss and Kevin Kroencke are named in the suit, along with the other planning board members, but both voted against the request to place fill on the driveway and the permit amendment for commercial access.

In February 2006, Supreme Court Justice William E. McCarthy dismissed a civil lawsuit initiated by the Dimuras against the planning board. The previous September, in 2005, the planning board had granted a special-use permit to Mary Ferentino to operate a dog-training and boarding facility on her Fielding Way property. The Dimuras had claimed that the planning board acted capriciously and arbitrarily, and had abused its discretion.

The Dimuras claimed that they own Fielding Way, and that people would drive on their property to get to the kennel.

The Dimuras’ attorney, John F. Hayko, did not return a phone call this week seeking comment.

Planning board Chairman Robert Stapf told The Enterprise that neither he, nor any town official, could comment about the lawsuit while it is in litigation.

Last Wednesday, the town board agreed to hire the law firm Murphy, Burns, Barber & Murphy to represent the planning board for this new lawsuit.

Other business

In other business at its November meeting, the planning board:

— Approved the a special-use permit for owner John Jeffers to rent the former J.J. Madden’s restaurant at 1903 New Scotland Road to Rev. Sandy Damhof for use as a church. The board approved the request with the condition that no more than 50 people attend at once, according to the fire code limit;

— Approved a special-use permit for Mark and Beth DeAngelis to build a pond on property located at Font Grove Road and Pauley Lane;

— Agreed that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement dated Sept. 29 is adequate for the proposed Kensington Woods development. The board set a public hearing on the project for Friday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. at the town hall. The deadline for written comments from the public is Dec. 31.

Stapf said that the entire document is available at the Lansing Engineering website, but that only portions are available on the town site because of the size of the document;

—  Approved Garry Guyette’s request for a variance for a 46-square-foot detached sign at 209 New Scotland Road in a residential agricultural district. Current zoning allows a 12-square-foot sign.

Board member Voss said that he is Guyette’s neighbor. The sign will not be illuminated, Guyette said.

At October’s zoning board of appeals meeting, Chairman William Hennessey had reservations about the sign’s size and color.

“It’s a nice-looking sign,” Stapf said at the November planning board meeting. He said that the sign has “rustic timber” and a “nice design”; and

— Agreed to forward a favorable response about a variance for Ed Lyons of Lyons Building and Consulting to subdivide one undersized parcel on Voorheesville Avenue and State Farm Road into two lots. Planning board member and surveyor Cynthia Elliott, who was absent, represented the subdivision to the zoning board in October.

The applicant wants to build two homes on the parcels just outside the village of Voorheesville. The homes would use public water, available to one lot and to the other by an easement, and in-ground septic tanks.

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