Friday, June 21, 2019

Let There Be a Bigger Museum

On Wednesday, the Zoning Board of Appeals held a public hearing on the request from the FASNY Museum of Firefighting for a use variance and a height variance needed to construct a 33,000 square foot addition to the existing museum. 

During the public hearing a lengthy letter of support from Town of Greenport supervisor Kathy Eldridge, praising the museum for the economic benefits it brings to the area, was read aloud by ZBA chair Lisa Kenneally, and the former Hudson fire chief Craig Haigh and museum director Jamie Quinn offered testimony about the benefits of the museum, particularly for children who visit, but the ZBA's decision was really a no-brainer. 

Before the public hearing began, city attorney Andy Howard reviewed the language of the zoning code and concluded that it was never the intention of the 2011 revisions to the code to make the museum a conforming use and that the omission of "libraries, museums or art galleries or antique centers" as a conditional use in the Institutional-Residential Conservation District was simply an oversight. The ZBA had the choice of granting a use variance or asking the Common Council to amend the code. The ZBA chose the former path. The five members of the ZBA present--Kenneally, Theresa Joyner, Myron Polenberg, Kathy Harter, and Mary Ellen Pierro--voted unanimously to grant the variances.

The meeting on Wednesday yielded some new information about the 33,000 square foot addition. Instead of something tacked on to the existing complex of buildings, it will completely transform the appearance of the museum. The plan involves preserving the original 1927 building and surrounding it with a redesigned facade.

Photo courtesy Historic Hudson

Above is a photograph of the elevation drawing Gossips managed to get at the ZBA meeting. You can click on the image to enlarge it. The original 1927 building appears off-center at the left. The height of the new main entrance to the museum--off-center at the right--is the reason the project required a height variance. It will be 45 feet high.

1 comment:

  1. Presumably the ZBA's interpretation looked to a "scrivener's error" in the Zoning Code, though what that means if the Code isn't amended accordingly is an interesting question.

    I suppose that in Common Law, the ZBA's interpretation becomes its own sort of Code amendment.