By Ashley M. Casey
At the March 18 meeting, the Fulton Common Council approved two public hearings for residential zone changes in the Fifth Ward.
Properties enclosed within North Sixth, Ontario, Erie and North Seventh streets, and North Third, Oneida, Seneca and North Fourth streets block are both currently zoned as Residential R-2, which allows multi-family units.
The city seeks to change the zones to R-1A, which requires more than 50 percent of the properties to be single-family units.
Mayor Ronald S. Woodward Sr. told The Valley News the zone change will eliminate disturbances that occur in multi-family rental properties, which have contributed to the “deterioration of certain neighborhoods.”
Woodward said most of these problem properties are located in the Fifth and Sixth wards on the east side of the city.
“They generate a lot of police calls, a lot of ambulance calls, a lot of fire calls,” Woodward said.
“When one of these calls is generated, first responders have to stay until the ambulance comes. … If you’ve got somewhere else where the emergency services are needed, they’re tied up,” he said.
Woodward said city first responders received 69 calls from one resident in this area alone in 2013, and the person has called 17 times already this year.
The mayor said once more homes are filled with “working families,” the problems associated with these renters will go away. But he stressed it will take time.
“They weren’t (created) overnight, and they won’t go away overnight,” Woodward said.
Of the 33 properties between the two blocks in question, nine contain two or more families. After the zone change, these homes will be grandfathered in.
If a multi-family residence becomes vacant for more than a year, however, the property must be converted to a single-family unit or demolished.
The hearings will be held at the next Common Council meeting, at 7 p.m. April 1 in the Common Council chambers at the Fulton Municipal Building, 141 S. First St.
• The Common Council struck a discussion of the East Side Pool from the agenda.
Mayor Woodward said even if Fulton applied for a grant to cover the cost of the engineering study, the city would not be able to match the funds required.
“The council is not going to vote for that study because they know there’d be a 25 to 50 percent match that they’d have to bond for, and they’re not going to do that,” Woodward told The Valley News. “We’ve got to just quit spinning our wheels over it.”
Woodward said at the council meeting that the city has asked New York state’s Financial Restructuring Board about alternative funding sources for the pool study.
• A public hearing for a proposed local law that would prohibit feeding wild animals and waterfowl on public property will be held at the next council meeting, April 1.
“We’ve had quite a problem downtown with people feeding seagulls,” Woodward told the council.
He said the seagulls have made messes on cars and a mural on the Fulton Savings Bank building on South First Street.
Feral cats have been an issue, and people have been feeding geese at Stevenson Beach as well.
“The DEC frowns upon it. They claim if the feeding stops, the waterfowl will seek more remote areas for wild feeding,” Woodward said.
• Carolyn Mosier has been appointed to fill the Fulton Public Library Board of Trustees position vacated by Elizabeth Mirabito.
Mosher’s term will expire Dec. 31, 2015.