Cassadaga Village Board yet to vote on zoning

CASSADAGA — The Village Board debated, but took no action on, a proposal to add a historical site event venue zoning designation to the village at their August meeting.

The proposal, brought forth by Trustee Cynthia Flaherty, comes amid the problems faced by the Red House, a wedding and event venue that came under scrutiny after a complaint about conditions there during Cassadaga Valley High School’s 2017 prom.

Now-retired code officer Sam Mancuso found that the location of the business on Frisbee Road is in a residential district and not zoned for business, and no variance was ever granted to allow Red House to conduct business there. The Red House then sought a zoning variance from the village Zoning Board of Appeals. The ZBA denied that in June and the venue is hosting only non-paid events for now.

Mayor Mary Jo Bauer said she does not want to see any zoning changes in the village.

“You can’t take something and just make to part of zoning… there should be a committee formed and discuss different types of whatever to go into zoning,” she said, with the committee then reporting to the board.

Bill Duncanson, the village attorney, questioned who would make the decision on what was a historic building. He also said that the code requirements to make a historic building suitable for public gatherings are “quite invasive,” and would require “significant structural changes” to most such buildings. Bauer wondered whether the entire site, or just the Red House building, would get historic status.

Nancy Wickmark, who along with her husband, Steve, owns the Red House, said they looked into a historic site designation from the state for their property, but decided not to pursue it. She said the insurance was the biggest issue — it would require any repairs to match the original materials used. “Our moulding was made out of horsehair,” she said.

Flaherty acknowledged, “We’ve got to do some more work to do on this.” The board took no further action on her proposal.

Steve Wickmark then addressed the board. “I hope if nothing else happens, that the board communicates to people who do you go to for permits,” he said.

He said he applied for a new variance in July and has received no response from the village. Bauer told him the ZBA would give him a response., and that the board’s response to him was that the ZBA decided already and would decide again.

The exchange devolved into shouting and accusations as Bauer reached for her gavel. “I told you personally you don’t get to apply for the same variance by alleging new facts,” Duncanson said to Steve Wickmark.

Finally, Duncanson said with a sigh, “We’re just arguing now and going around in circles.” Bauer then closed the meeting to the public for an executive session to discuss a potential village employee hiring.

In other business, the village brought in lifeguards for the beach for six more weekend days between the August meeting and Labor Day, at a cost of $600. Flaherty proposed it, noting the beach attendance from last year has doubled. After Bauer said there are funds available for such a move, the board approved it.

Also, Flaherty said there should be a change in the village noise ordinance to specifically ban loud noise from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. Duncanson said the local law setting out the ordinance would need to be changed as right now it has no specific time element.

“The larger question is, who is going to enforce it?” he said, noting that the county Sheriff’s Department and state police, who patrol the village, historically do not get involved with noise issues unless a municipality contracts with them for extra services.

“I think if we had a repeat offender, we could ask the sheriff,” Flaherty said.

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