UTICA, N.Y. - Utica Common Council members were in executive session for at least an hour Wednesday night discussing legal matters regarding the Kelberman Center project.
After the executive session, the council members said they could not discuss much, but whether or not there was a mistake and the city did not use proper procedure, it is too late to push back under article 78, which is a four-month statute.
According to council attorney Anthony Garramone, nothing can be done now by the council.
Kelberman Center Exectuive Director Dr. Robert Myers says he understands the neighbors complaints, but the project will move forward.
"We see the passion of the neighbors and we want to partner with them. If we missed a step along the way and not engaging in early enough, we’re turning a page today, I don’t think anybody disputes that we had every public hearing possible, we went above and beyond in our level of transparency but now is the time for us to turn the page, embrace this neighborhood and have them in embrace us back," said Myers.
Myers says demolition of the former sunset school will begin immediately, after which construction of the new 60-unit complex will begin.
Garramone says the reason for the executive session was because there were matters regarding the Kelberman project that involved very serious legal issues and possible law suits. He did not go into detail on what those were but the common council needed to speak with their lawyers before any further action is taken on the project that might place the city in financial jeopardy.
According to commissioner Brian Thomas, questions were raised about the proper procedure used by the city to approve the proposed project.
Some council members believe the city needed their approval by ordinance for the demolition permit, but the city says they followed the correct procedures.
According to Thomas, the project is located on a lot zoned planned development extraordinary, but some council members argue it is zoned planned unit development.
The difference, according to Thomas, is a planned unit development involves a large tract of land possibly involving a mix of uses or in various phases in accordance with a development plan. The development plan is usually approved by the council.
Also according to Thomas, in the case of the Kelberman project, there is no larger development plan guiding future development for the site, its a project located in a planned development district, so no council approval by ordinance is needed.