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City officials will take a closer look at zoning rules

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Ogdensburg’s zoning regulations will be reviewed to see if they are being enforced to the letter.

The city Zoning Board of Appeals last week approved variance for a higher-than-allowed radio tower for the Ogdensburg Volunteer Rescue Squad after it had been illegally installed. The move was noticed by Deputy Mayor Michael D. Morley.

He wants to know how many other times the board has granted a variance after the fact when a code violation was uncovered. It’s not fair, he said, to variance seekers who abide by the rules.

“That’s my concern,” Mr. Morley said Wednesday. “There should be a penalty involved (for board-approved code violators).”

City officials are convinced that the rescue squad didn’t intentionally ignore the zoning code, that it was a site plan mistake that slipped by.

“It was an oversight,” Mayor William D. Nelson said. “City staff admitted that it was an oversight.”

The ZBA’s approval was by a 4-0 vote, with three board members were absent. The board took no action on the variance request at a meeting the week before because only three members showed up, one shy of a voting quorum.

“That, to me, is a problem,” said City Councilor R. Storm Cilley.

City officials said they don’t want what they called an isolated quorum deficiency issue to discourage people from serving on the zoning board or any of the city’s other mayor/council-appointed volunteer boards, committees and commissions. But commitment is essential.

“It’s difficult,” said Planning and Development Director Andrea L. Smith. “No everyone wants to decide if his neighbor can have a fence.”

But the rewards are considerable, Mr. Nelson said.

“These boards have a direct say in the direction of the community,” he said.

“This is an exciting time to be a board member,” Ms. Smith said.

To be placed on a waiting list for an assignment to a city board or committee, call the mayor’s office at 393-6100.

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