Feb 24, 2015
LE ROY â It looks like James Gomborone can move ahead with plans to convert the former Brothers of Mercy convent into a hotel and conference center.
The Town Board on Thursday approved a zoning change and special use permit needed to operate a hotel at 7758 and 7770 East Main Rd.
Gomborone â who also owns Le Roy Country Club â plans to give the building âa faceliftâ but otherwise keep it mostly unchanged. He said it can be configured for 13 hotel units.
The hotel would not open until at least next year, he said.
âItâs just a great building; itâs an asset for the village,â Gomborone said. âWeâd like to enhance it, and use it for something other than it has been.
âA small inn and conference center,â he added. âThatâs it, in a nutshell.â
Also on the property, is a two-family residence and a carriage house.
Perhaps ironically for a one-time religious facility â or appropriately, depending on your perspective â thereâs a devil in the details.
The Town Board approved the rezoning, but with a key change: The board voted, 3-2, to keep the first 200 feet of property south of East Main Street in a residential zone.
That was intended to meet concerns expressed by neighbors who spoke during the hearing.
Multi-family homes are allowed in an R-2 Medium Density Residential District. But neighbors said they worried that rezoning all of the Mercy Grove property from R-2 residential to C-1 Limited Commercial, could someday result in the siting of retail businesses along East Main Street and adjacent to their homes.
âI have no problem with rezoning Mercy Grove â I think thatâs a good idea,â said Dan Snyder, whose home is two doors to the east. âI have a problem rezoning the (roadside) parcel.â
Supervisor Stephen Barbeau, Deputy Supervisor Tom Stella and Councilman Dave Paddock voted in favor of the rezoning. The ânoâ votes were by council members John Armitage and Kelly Lathan.
Armitage and Lathan said they support the hotel project and agree with the need to protect neighbors, but were concerned that splitting zoning of the property could limit Gomboroneâs options for the two-family residence and carriage barn.
But the 3-2 decision meant there was some question Thursday night, about weather the rezoning decision will stand. That is because it differs from plans originally submitted to the Genesee County Planning Board, which recommended approval last month.
Generally speaking, if a town or village board rejects a recommendation from the county Planning Board it requires a vote of a âsuper majority,â or in Le Royâs case four votes in favor.
Town Attorney Reid Whiting advised that the requirement does not apply to the zoning change approved for Mercy Grove, because the townâs decision is more restrictive than that approved at the county level.
Barbeau said the town will nevertheless consult the county Planning Department on the matter.
Another wrinkle is a provision in the town code, that prohibits new construction in front of a âmainâ commercial building in C-1 districts. That could also effectively prevent new commercial building along East Main.
Barbeau said the board may revisit the issue when it meets in two weeks. If so, he said neighbors will be notified in advance.
Also on Thursday, the board approved hotels as allowed, with a special use permit, in C-2 districts; and eventually voted to grant a special use permit to Gomborone. The special use permit includes a provision limiting food service to hotel lodgers and those attending private functions there.
Finally, the board OKâd two other changes in zoning code. They are to: include âgolf courseâ asÂ a permitted use in residential and commercial districts; and update the definition of âhotelâ in the code. Neither change is related to the Mercy Grove project, but were suggested by county planners.
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