Canoga Street's empty lot

Garbage litters an empty lot where a business once stood at 20 Canoga St. in Auburn. 

AUBURN — An Auburn business is legally challenging the city's denial of a variance request to construct a pole barn on a vacant lot.

In October, when Bouley Enterprises Inc. requested the variance from the Auburn Zoning Board of Appeals to erect the barn at 20 Canoga St., the board rejected the request for multiple reasons.

Meeting minutes say board members were concerned about an increase of traffic, the barn not fitting in with the rest of the residentially zoned neighborhood and the possibility of the business expanding in the future if a variance was granted. 

Additionally, the ZBA denied the request because of a positive declaration under a State Environmental Quality Review, meaning preparation for environmental impact would be needed if the barn were to be built. 

Bouley was seeking the variance because it has a purchase offer on the property from Edward J. Rizzo, who would build the pole barn to use for the landscaping and masonry equipment storage. Bouley, which has owned the site since 2006, said it has tried unsuccessfully to market the property for residential use.

Although two members of the seven-strong ZBA were absent from the October meeting, the five who did attend all voted to deny the variance.

In a petition filed Friday with state Supreme Court in Cayuga County, Bouley Enterprises's attorney wrote that it was "patently improper" of the board to cite the hypothetical future of the business possibly expanding as a reason for variance denial. 

Typically, a variance is needed to site buildings for uses that don't match the specified zoning use for a certain area. Bouley's attorney argued that a business had previously existed at the site, and that therefore, the barn fitting in with the rest of the neighborhood should be of no concern. 

The previous business's floor slab remains on the otherwise vacant property, with garbage scattered over it. According to documents filed with the application for the variance, the site had once been the home of plastics manufacturing company. An engineer's report from 1993 said the site at one point was on a list of inactive hazardous waste sites but had later been delisted.

Although Bouley's legal petition has been filed, the city has not been served yet with legal papers yet and declined to comment on the matter, assistant corporation counsel Nate Garland said Monday. 

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Staff writer Dan Orzechowski can be reached at (315) 282-2239 or dan.orzechowski@lee.net. Follow him on Twitter @OrzechowskiDan.