NY court rejects arguments against shelter in commercial zone FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Thu, 6 Aug 1998 04:40:03 -0700 (PDT)

FWD  Capital District Business Review -- August 3, 1998


     Tim Aurentz, Business Review Reporter

A state Supreme Court justice has rejected an Albany furniture store's
attempt to prevent the use of an adjacent building as a residence for
homeless alcoholics.

Kimberly-Scott Inc., whose wholesale and retail office furniture and supply
store is at 904 Broadway, argued that the residence at 393 N. Pearl St.
would increase its costs of doing business, because its liability insurance
premiums would increase.

Kimberly-Scott's building abuts the North Pearl Street structure and shares
with it a common wall and a sprinkler system, according to court papers.
The company also said the residence would undermine its security and lessen
retail traffic. And lawyers for the company argued that the facility would
violate city zoning laws because the neighborhood is zoned commercial, not

Justice Joseph Teresi of state Supreme Court in Albany County threw out the
company's legal claim in a July 24 decision, stating that federal court
might be the appropriate place for Kimberly-Scott to file its grievance.

Indeed, the Homeless Action Committee, which wants to build the facility,
sued Albany in U.S. District Court in 1997 after the city's Board of Zoning
Appeals denied a request for a zoning variance.

The non-profit group accused the city of violating the federal Fair Housing
Amendments Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, but dropped its
claim when the two sides agreed to a consent order, which was filed in
federal court in December.

As part of the agreement, the court ordered the Board of Zoning Appeals to
allow the project to proceed.

Kimberly-Scott had argued that the city of Albany entered into a "secret
agreement" to allow the Homeless Action Committee to operate the residence
on North Pearl Street.

Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings denied there was any secret agreement, adding
that a consent was recorded as part of that proceeding.

Stephen Pechenik of the Troy law firm Pechenik, Walsh, Mair & Currow, who
is representing Kimberly-Scott, was not available to comment on the case
last week.

Donna DeMaria, director of the Homeless Action Committee, said
Kimberly-Scott has no grounds for an appeal. "We [already] have a federal
court ruling," she said.

She added that the case has not delayed plans for the $2.3 million
single-room-occupancy residence. Construction is scheduled to begin this
fall and to be completed in the summer of 1999.

The facility would provide shelter for 30 chronic alcoholics under a
"wet-house" concept in which they would not be required to quit drinking as
a condition of living there.


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