SENNETT | The Town of Sennett Zoning Board of Appeals, the town's zoning officer and the new Bucket BBQ restaurant will be heading to state Supreme Court May 17 after a resident who lives nearby has filed an Article 78 petition attempting to void the restaurant's expansion into the Route 20 building's second floor.
Paul Bush, who lives on Butera Drive, about 750 feet from the new barbecue restaurant, is seeking to have the determination of the town's zoning officer, Howard Tanner, annulled. Tanner, in 2012, determined that the restaurant could expand to the building's second floor.
Bush also wants annulled the decision of the zoning board of appeals that deemed he had no standing to appeal Tanner's determination.
Although Bush said Monday that the impact on him and his neighbors is only secondary to his Article 78 argument that proper procedures were not followed, large sections of the court paper argue that since he will be impacted by the expansion into the second floor, he does, in fact, have standing to appeal.
Bush said the primary focus of his Article 78, which he said is supported by several other neighbors, is a local law, Sennett Code, Article IX, Section 906, which states that buildings that existed prior to the advent of building codes can continue to be used for their original purposes, but their zoning cannot be changed.
"It can only be what it was 50 years ago," Bush said. "You can't build on. You can't expand upstairs."
Bush said since the second floor of the Bucket BBQ was residentially zoned for many years, it cannot now be zoned for restaurant operations.
"It is a violation of the Sennett code — clear cut," Bush said. "This does not conform to the residential zoning in the area."
But Mark Miller, chairman of the zoning board of appeals, said a state code prevents the upstairs from being used as a residential area because there is not a separate entrance to the upstairs; one has to walk through the restaurant to get to the stairs that go up.
In addition, Scott Chatfield, Tanner's lawyer, believes only a portion of the upstairs would be affected if Bush wins the argument in court because only a portion was used as a residence, although Bush claims the entire floor was used for that purpose.
Chatfield also believes the Article 78 is essentially a waste of time.
"(Bush) must have a lot of money sitting around burning a hole in his pocket," Chatfield said. "He's not challenging the right of the Bucket to be there. He's simply arguing that they don't have the right to use a small portion of the structure for restaurant operations. ... How does the use or non-use of that small portion substantially impact Mr. Bush?"
"If he were to be successful, the Bucket BBQ will still be there," Chatfield said.
Restaurant owners could not be reached for comment.
Miller, who is familiar with the Bucket BBQ, said he believes the second floor is critical to the business.
"They're going to need the upstairs to survive," he said. "They need that space."