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Location: Albany, New York, United States

CONSERVATIVE ROW C FOR MAYOR CITY OF ALBANY NY November 5, 2013 Election U S Navy Veteran BS Geography, U Wisconsin (Korean GI Bill) MA Geography, U Minnesota (National Fellowship) 30 years as founder and president, Buckingham Pond/ Crestwood Neighborhood Assoc. maintaining/improving neighborhood residential integrity and quality of life. Leadership resulted in creation of Buckingham Pond Park in 1993-94, as well as many other open spaces. See for list of leadership results. Neighborhood website: see also:

Thursday, February 18, 2016


Times Union, Thursday
February 18, 2016 pages C1 and 3.

Churchill  obviously did not read
the court papers before he wrote
the above column which is a biased
advocacy opinion  intended to sway
public opinion- not factual news

Read my Article 78 petition to gain
a clear understanding that Supreme
Court Justice Connolly properly
annulled use of 738 New Scotland
Avenue, a single family residential
dwelling, located in a single family
zoning district pursuant to the Albany
City Zoning Code based on a clear
interpretation of the intent, language
definitions and provision of the law.

Justice Connolly did not legislate
from the bench - he correctly decided
the case on the law.

Bethany Family Promise lawyers
and the Albany City Board of Zoning
Appeals did not read and comply
with the provisions of the Albany
City Zoning code with regard to
uses allowed in a single family
zoned residential district.

They did not seek a use variance
because they could not meet all
4 of the state law provisions which
must be met in order to obtain
a use variance. Most notably,
Bethany and Family Promise
could not prove that operating
a regional homeless social services
hub out of 738 New Scotland Avenue
would not alter the essential
character and residential integrity
of this residential single family zoned

Nor, could they prove that home
values, the city property tax base
and support for city schools would
not be adversely impacted.

In a City that is on the brink of
fiscal insolvency, approval of the
Bethany Family Promise application
would result in "killing the golden

Instead, Bethany and Family
Promise lawyers  took an end
run around the law seeking an
"Interpretation" from the BZA
approving the Bethany Family
Promise application on the
basis of religion, supported by
public opinion rather than the law.

In an "Interpretation Appeal"
the BZA is limited to a strict
interpretation of the law. The
BZA exceeded its' lawful authority.

In sum, Justice Connolly reached
the right decision - on the law!

Churchill's biased opinion piece
conclusions and its' headline
are wrong. 

Justice Connolly's Decision in
this Matter is not about religion
it is about upholding the provisions
of the Albany City Zoning Code
that pertain to protecting the
residential integrity and quality
of life in this single family zoned

It is a land use decision upholding
the zoning code which protects
home values, the city tax base
and support for city schools/
city services in a city on the verge
of fiscal insolvency.



In the Matter of


    Petitioner  pro se





The petition of JOSEPH P SULLIVAN to the court as follows:

1. Petitioner is a homeowner residing at 737 New Scotland Avenue, Albany, NY 12208
    for these past 40 years, in an R-1B single family zoned District pursuant to the City
    of Albany, NY Zoning Code, aggrieved by a Decision of the Board of Zoning Appeals
    changing the use of a single family dwelling, 738 New Scotland Avenue, which is
    in close proximity to and in the same zone as the petitioner's home, which will
    reduce the use, enjoyment and value of the petitioner's home.

2. Petitioner is founder and President of the Buckingham Pond Crestwood Neighborhood
    Association these past 30 years, dedicated to maintaining/improving the residential
    integrity and quality of life in the neighborhood bounded by Western Ave, South Manning
    Blvd, NYS Thruway and Rte 85.

3. Respondent Board of Zoning Appeals  (Board) is a 7 member body, including Chairman
    Richard Berkley appointed by the Mayor, City of Albany, NY

4. This proceeding pursuant to  C.P.L.R,  Article 78 seeks judicial review of  the Board
    Decision  3/25/15 (Exhibit A)  in reversing a denial of a permit requested by Bethany
    Reformed Church 760 New Scotland  Avenue, Albany, NY 12208 for a change of use
    of 738 New Scotland Avenue,  the church parsonage, a single family dwelling located
    in an R-1B single family residential zoning district pursuant to the City of Albany Zoning
    Code, to a use as a rented "home base" Family Promise of The Capital Region
    (Family Promise) a 501 (c) (3) Not For Profit, to operate it's homeless-social services
     network, which is in the process of being established.

5.  The Code Administrator correctly interpreted the Code provisions  that a "home base":
     as proposed by Bethany, was not a listed permitted use in R-1B single family residential
     zoned district, that  the proposed change of use would require a USE VARIANCE
     ( Exhibit B  Code Administrator  Denial 12/8/15)  See also Code Article III Sec 375-8
       and 375-9 (D)

6.  Bethany appealed, not asking for Board approval of a use variance, but, rather for
     an INTERPRETATION by the Board to interpret Bethany's proposed ed use of
     738 New Scotland Avenue as" a use  permitted within its zoning district" 
     (Page 2 of Bethany Appeal 12/15/14)

7.  Bethany did not appeal for a reversal of the Administrator's denial of permit, nor did
     Bethany apply for a use variance, most likely because a party seeking a use variance
     must prove that granting of a use variance requires that the applicant prove, and the
     Board find, that granting the use variance
     will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood ( Code sec 375-26 (B-2 (g)

8. Petitioner submitted a statement to the Board, prior to the hearing and decision of the
    Board 3/25/15 stating:
    (1) the question presented at the hearing is not accurate  (2) The City Administrator
    has correctly denied Bethany a permit  (3) that the Family Promise program is a social
    services program, not a ministry of the church (4) that may one day take over the church
    at 760 New Scotland Ave and parking lot and (5) the Board has compelling reasons to uphold
    the Code including the negative, transformational effects on the neighborhood, home values, the 
    city tax base and support for city schools and city government services.
    ( Exhibit C Petitioner Statement for Entry in the  Hearing Record.  Refer also, to posts
    from January 2015 to the present regarding this matter
    on the neighborhood website:

9. In an Interpretation Appeal the Board's review is limited to interpreting the provisions of
    the code. The Board must view the Code as, if, it were the Administrator, and make a
    decision accordingly. The Board cannot rewrite the Code or read something into it that is not
    there. Only the Common Council, the legislative
    body of the City, has the power to amend the Code.

10. Petitioner allegations regarding the Decision of the Board 3/25/15

   a) The correct property address in this matter is 738 New Scotland Avenue

   b) the correct parcel ID is 64-72-2-37.2 a 60 x 59  foot lot whereon the single
       family dwelling , with a taxable value of $240,000 sits ( 2014 City Tax Roll)

   c) The Matter presented  when interpreting the Code, as the Board is limited to do
       on such  and appeal  can only result in a denial by the Board based on the law.
      The question appears to be phrased in a way to result in the decision reached by the Board


    d) The Board  unlawfully reversed the Code Administrators denial and ordered
        unlawfully the  the Administrator to issue Bethany  a permit to proceed with the change
        of use  of  738 New Scotland Avenue from a single family dwelling in an R-1B single family
        zoned district to a new use as "home base" for the Family Promise homeless
        social services  network which is not a permitted use in said district as the
        Administrator correctly  interpreted the Code to read.

   e)  Contrary to #16  Decision Family Promise and Bethany entered into a lease involving
        payment of rent amounting to 1,300 dollars monthly by Family Promise to Bethany
        (see Record, November 9, 2014 letter of inquiry to Administrator inquiring is a use variance
        was need by Bethany, and supporting lease copy)

    f)   The "missions and ministries" referenced in the papers, hearing and decision in this matter
        are more about rent and other forms of income, including donations and government grants
        for Family Promise and  churches struggling to remain solvent in the face of aging
        congregations, reduced attendance and contributions.

    g)  Code Definitions shall be strictly construed,  738 New Scotland Avenue is a one (single)
         family dwelling, not a House of Worship. A House of Worship is a structure or part of a
         structure used for worship or religious ceremonies. A Use Variance is authorization by the
         Board for a use of land for a purpose ..not allowed or is otherwise prohibited by the
         provisions of this chapter . Administrator means The  Commissioner of Buildings and
         Regulatory Compliance of the City of Albany, NY or another City official designated by
         law to fulfill the duties of that position. ( Code Definitions Sec 375-27)
    h)  The Board did not properly interpret and apply the Code Definitions in (g) in arriving at it's
         Decision of 3/25/15

11. The Board was precluded granting a Special Use, or special exception, Permit by the Code.
      Section 375-27-B (1-(a)  a proposed use is not listed among the permitted uses for an R-1B
      district,  and (375-27- B (1-(c)  that  will have an adverse effect on the character of the
      and  neighborhood  and (375-27-B (1- (g) will not be in harmony with, or that will adversely
      effect the neighborhood.

12. In sum, the 3/25/15 Decision of the Board in this matter  was, contains errors of law
      made in contravention of  the law (Code), contains errors of law, is arbitrary, capricious
      and an abuse of discretion.

WHEREFORE  your petitioner deponent  requests that this Court:

       A) Annul the Board of Zoning Appeals
            City of Albany, NY
            Decision of March 25, 2015


        B) Affirm the City of Albany, NY
             Code Administrator''s
             Denial of a Permit to Bethany
             Dated   December 8, 2014

and such other and further relief as may to the Court seem just and proper.

 Date: April____   2015               ______________________________________________
                                                    Petitioner Signature
                                              ____Joseph P Sullivan_____
                                                      printed name

                                              _____737 New Scotland Ave, Albany, NY 12208____  

                                              _____518 438 5238_________________________

                                                    Joe Sullivan




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