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Batavia Council schedules hearings on limiting rooming houses

BATAVIA – The City Council unanimously passed 10 resolutions Monday, including the setting of two public hearings aimed at curtailing rooming houses, boardinghouses and tourist homes.

Public hearings are scheduled for 7 p.m. June 22 on two proposed local laws that would prohibit new applications for rooming houses on streets in residential zones, as well as new applications for rooming houses within the city limits.

Councilwoman Rose Mary Christian, who has been outspoken in her opposition to rooming houses, asked if the annual fee for rooming house permits could be increased.

“Only $50 per year for a permit? I’d like to know how many hours (Code Enforcement Officer) Doug Randall puts into inspecting rooming houses each year and have the fee raised,” she said. “Another option is to possibly go by the number of bedrooms.”

After a brief discussion, the Council decided it could address the fee issue after the public hearing.

City Manager Jason R. Molino previously reported to the Council that adding rooming houses is inconsistent with the city’s comprehensive master and community improvement plans, which call for a commitment to retaining single-family neighborhoods. Currently, there are 10 rooming houses in Batavia.

In other developments, the Council approved:

• A resolution adopting an updated comprehensive emergency management plan as developed by a team led by City Fire Chief James P. Maxwell. The 84-page document sets the policies and procedures in case of disasters or emergencies, including planning and training for city staff.

• Amending the vacation policy for non-union city employees, granting one week of vacation to new employees after six months of service followed by additional weeks of vacation in line with the city’s existing incremental policy. The city manager may give credit for previous experience in determining the vacation increment.

• Authorization of the drafting of a second letter of support for the New York State Abandoned Property Relief Act. The April 2015 version of the bill requires mortgagees to maintain vacant residential properties during a normally lengthy foreclosure process.

• The purchase of thermal imaging cameras used for structural interior firefighting operations from Municipal Emergency Services of Southbury, Conn., for $11,445.

• An installment contract for $182,000 over seven years with US Bancorp Government Leasing and Finance Inc., for a tandem axle truck with dump body and snowplow/deicing package.