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REZONING OF COMMUNITY FACILITIES BEGINS IN EARNEST

The Town of Evans started the process of rezoning its "community facilities" Wednesday night, changing the status of its former youth center to general business.

The town sold the building, at 6788 Wellington Drive, along with a paper street and a small piece of town park property to Albert Putnam for $35,000 last year. The lot is 1.25 acres. The youth center was declared surplus property in 1997.

The property is first to be rezoned from CF -- community facility -- but it's only the start of a process to rezone about three dozen properties.

"Churches, schools, the Moose Lodge, we've got about 36 right now," said Town Supervisor Robert Catalino II. "We are in the process of removing all the CF designations and putting them in different zones.

"This will be the first CF that comes off, but you'll be seeing a lot more public hearings with the (Town Board) regarding this matter."

Catalino said the goal is to put the properties into their proper designations in case they are ever sold.

"Using the Moose as an example, if that was ever sold to somebody, we'd want that zoned to something proper for that area," Catalino said, "not limited to nonprofit."

During the public hearing, the main concern voiced was over the current use of the property for truck parking.

Putnam said there has been no authorized use, and Town Board members said drivers who live in the area apparently have been parking their rigs there overnight or on weekends.

Putnam, who has restored the old building rather than razing it, said he hasn't found a tenant and isn't sure what it will eventually be used for.

"It's 90 percent refurbished," he said, "and I'm in the process of looking for a reputable business to lease it."

Catalino described the building as "in deplorable condition, with floors of dirt" before Putnam's renovation.

Putnam also received a negative declaration from the town board regarding environmental review, meaning he won't have to go through the New York State environmental review process. Councilman Joseph Govenettio assured residents the business owners would still have to seek approval for new uses for the building.

"That's property that was off the tax rolls that will be going back on the tax rolls," said Catalino.

The rezoning and negative declaration were both recommended by the Evans Planning Board.

e-mail: eploetz@buffnews.com

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