Zoning Board denies plans for motel

OBSERVER Photos by M.J. Stafford A sizable crowd attended Wednesday’s Dunkirk Zoning Board of Appeals meeting.

An old motel behind the Dunkirk Motel will not reopen.

The city Zoning Board of Appeals unanimously denied a variance Wednesday that was necessary to reopen the dilapidated motel on Point Drive West. The variance was needed because it sits in a residential zone. The Dunkirk Motel itself, on Lake Shore Drive West, is in a tourism/commercial zone.

A slew of people from that residential zone argued against offering the variance. About 70 people packed most of the seats in City Hall’s chambers normally used by court and the Common Council.

The new motel would have been operated by the same people who run Dunkirk Motel. The speakers at Wednesday’s meeting generally argued that the new motel would invite “undesirable” people into the neighborhood. Many complained the current Dunkirk Motel has many of the same kind of people, and the property is not kept up properly.

One speaker, who did not give his name at the podium, complained about “all the trouble we have in the neighborhood that hasn’t been addressed. What about the people in there who are destroyed and need mental health help.”

Another speaker said, “There’s animals coming in and out of there. There’s people who are mentally disabled. It’s like a halfway house, it’s not a motel.” He received applause when he suggested the motel ought to get shut down.

Not all speakers gave their names at the podium — but one who did, John Muscato, said, “We take a lot of pride in our neighborhood at the Point” but the Dunkirk Motel brings in people who are “24-7 vulgarities going down the street, looking into windows, wandering through lawns and breaking into cars.”

Another speaker worried that the new motel would be used to place illegal immigrants. “I don’t want them in my neighborhood or living behind me,” he said of “migrants.”

The next-to-last speaker out of the 13 who spoke against the proposed motel said, “How can they maintain this if they’re not maintaining the current property they’re running?”

The motel would have been 14 rooms with an access drive through Dunkirk Motel property. A motel representative, who did not state his name, told the Zoning Board of Appeals that opening the place back up would actually keep out “hobos and criminals.”

He complained that $75,000 worth of copper wiring was stolen from the building and said it also needed new plumbing and electric service. Nevertheless, he said it could reopen in “two or three months.”

After listening to speakers slam his proposal and his business for an hour, he returned to the podium and stated that state officials in Albany are already pressing the Dunkirk Motel to take in immigrants. Reopening the old motel would give the business a place to put them, he said.

“Help your neighbor,” he concluded.


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper? *


Starting at $4.62/week.

Subscribe Today