Blessing or bill of goods?

by Frank Castiglia, Fulton

At a recent Fulton Common Council meeting, a public hearing and vote on changing a certain area of the City of Fulton from M1 to R1A.

In that meeting, we were told a story about a couple that came back to Fulton in hopes of fulfilling their American dream of owning their own home in (the wife’s) hometown. I am glad that people want to come back to Fulton and I would like to see more of it.

My problem is…why this property and why this area of Fulton? There are many vacant homes in the city of Fulton that are in R1 and R1A Zoned areas.

Let’s take a little look back in time. It was 1965-1975 era and everything in Fulton looked great. The city leaders at that time sold the citizens of Fulton a bill of goods that at the time sounded and looked good. They told us that urban deployment was the way to go to get federal and state money and keep our taxes low.

They destroyed our beautiful and historic downtown. They also told the residents of a certain area that the best thing for them to do was be zoned M1 so they could sell their property easily to then Sealright. Everyone was happy.

Fast forward to 2013. With urban development came an increase in public assistance housing. Costs have driven many of the manufacturing out of our city. Now we have an increase in crime, an increase in taxes — both city and school— and increased cost mainly due to the bill of goods sold to us by the city leaders of 1965-1975 era.

Let me try and put this all together now. Over the past year or so, a certain landlord in Fulton was trying to buy a house that had been left vacant for over a year. He tried and tried to get the zoning board to change it back to an R2 and they (Zoning board) told him and two other buyers that they couldn’t do that without the city changing the law or the zone.

The zoning board has done a great job in lowing the number of rental properties in the city. Now, the above mentioned landlord couldn’t get or didn’t try to get anyone to sponsor a bill to change the zoning so he or one of the other two could buy the property.

I am very glad that a multi-unit rental was not put back on the tax rolls. We need single family homes. I thought it was all over and done with.

Then along came a city councilor from another ward that sponsored a bill to change the zoning from M1 to R1A because he wants to see a couple live their American Dream and we need to help the people of the southwest corner of the Fourth Ward.

Oh, did I fail to mention that this couple is related to him.

Now, when questioned about this, he had me read at the meeting the definition of the word relative in relationship to the code of ethics and a conflict of interest.

Because he is a second cousin, he is not forbidden from voting on this. We all have read about the couple — how they bought a house and started doing repairs only to find out that they couldn’t move in. This is where I have a problem or question.

Why wouldn’t they have had a lawyer find out what the zoning was way before they bought it and at least way before they started repairs. If building permits were needed to do the repairs, why didn’t the city code office tell them about the change?

Also, I have checked the tax records for this property and it doesn’t show them as an owner. Now, the only thing I can check is the tax records for the Oswego County property tax rolls.

I’m sure someone will come up with a real good story why it doesn’t show and it will be a good one…just like the last one.

If this all happened five years ago, way before the problem with the house being vacant, there never would be any questions or concerns.

It didn’t and I think the city taxpayers have been sold another bill of goods telling us how good this will be for us.

Only time will tell. I just fear that we have just added another nail into the casket for the city of Fulton. I really pray to God that I am wrong.

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