Glens Falls Zoning ok’s variances for 28 Chris Patten apartments on Washington St.; synagogue objects

By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor

The Glens Falls Zoning Board of Appeals on Monday night approved five variances that will allow developer Chris Patten to build two apartment buildngs on adjacent properties at 3 and 5 West Washington Street, downtown.

Shaded space, lot 302.20-17-6, is where Chris Patten plans 20 apartments. He plans an 8-unit building on lot 302.20-17-7. The synagogue is lot 302.20-17-1. WAIT House is lot 302.20-17-4.

The motion passed despite objections from Mark Hoffman, president of Congregation Shaaray Tefila, that one of the proposed buildings, on what are now two paved parking lots, will pose a security threat to the Synagogue.

The Patten Properties project, Washington Manor Apartments, comprises a 20-unit apartment house on the corner of Washington and Harlem Streets, and an 8-unit building that runs along Washington Street to Bay.

The two properties are in the block currently occupied by Congregation Shaaray Tefila on the east, and the WAIT House to the northwest.

The parking lots are currently owned by 333 Monument Associates LLC (owners of “The Travelers Bulding,” which is for sale) and Smith Flats LLC, respectively.

Mr. Patten’s variances would reduce the required setbacks: For the front yard of the 20-unit building from 20 feet to 2 feet 9 inches, and for the 8-unit building to 16 feet 3 inches. Of particular issue was the rear setback for the planned 8-unit building, from the required 15 feet to 5 feet 2 inches.

That building would be adjacent to the Synagogue driveway and parking lot.

Mr. Hoffman said, “Number one I’m concerned about security. Right now our parking lot and driveway are visually accessible to Washington Street.”

When a ZBA member said Mr. Patten planned to have cameras and lights on the back of the building, Mr. Hoffman said, “We have cameras too, but once somebody comes by and shoots up a congregation it’s too late.”

“Then you are anti building?” he was asked.

“No. We are not objecting to the other building we just want it to be more reasonable. Squeeziing eight units into that small space and completely blocking our exposure, that’s a concern.”

“Basically he’s using our parking lot and driveway as something, space, so he can have windows on the back of his building.”

Of the 5 feet 2 inches setback, Mr. Hoffman said, “I think that’s very small.”

ZBA chair Jeff Purner said in making the motion, “I do not believe there will be an undesirable change to the nature of the neighborhood.”

Mr. Purner acknowledged Mr. Hoffman’s objections but said, “I do not feel there is any other way to achieve the project without these variances.”

The Zoning Board of Appeals voted 4 to 2 to allow the variances. “Thank you,” Mr. Patten said. “I will show you guys. I will continue to build throughout the City and bring more projects to this table.”

Recommendations of the Zoning Board must also be approved by the Common Council.

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