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The City of Utica facing possible legal action related to Kelberman Center project

A proposed resolution to re-endorse the Kelberman Center grant application for the Kelberman Center project is still under consideration after a Utica Common Council meeting Wednesday night.

Posted: Oct 17, 2019 12:26 AM

UTICA, N.Y. - A proposed resolution to re-endorse the Kelberman Center grant application for the Kelberman Center project is still under consideration after a Utica Common Council meeting Wednesday night.

Councilman Joe Marino proposed the resolution to scale down the project by half.

Marino says the grant application that the council endorsed in November 2018 was done under false pretenses because they didn't have all of the information at the time.

The Kelberman Center wants to demolish the old Sunset Avenue school building in South Utica and turn it into a four-story, 60 unit apartment building with 12 of the apartments specifically for individuals with autism.

Marino says now that they have more information, he wants to cut that grant application in half, which is what residents in South Utica want.

"I tried to get a resolution to send to the state saying that 'I know that you have this grant application, here's what we'd like to see, we'd like to see it a little smaller' but the council chose to keep it in committee," Marino said.

In a 3-6 vote, the council voted to keep that legislation in committee, meaning the resolution is still under consideration and hasn't been voted on.

One of the council members that voted to keep that resolution in committee was Council at Large, Jack LoMedico.

"By keeping it in committee, we can get some more information on it, we can get more legal advice on it and we can move on it, we didn't kill," LoMedico said.

LoMedico says before the council votes, they need to know more about exactly what the city is responsible for and what could happen down the road. He says if the resolution passes to scale down the project, the city could be sued by the Kelberman Center. If the council doesn't pass the resolution, the city could be sued by South Utica residents.

South Utica residents spoke during the public comment session, expressing their concerns about the project, reiterating that the project is too big.

Marino also proposed a resolution, related to this situation with the Kelberman Center, that would require that the city planning board notify property owners within a 200-foot radius of a property going through the preliminary site plan review and approval process in the future, a process that is currently used for zoning modifications. The council passed that resolution unanimously.

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