City Council To Vote On Sheldon House Purchase

As one of three community sponsors for Jamestown Community College, Jamestown City Council will vote on the proposed sale of the Sheldon House today.

Earlier this month, Jamestown City Council discussed the proposed purchase of the Sheldon House to Edward Signorile for $240,000. As one of the three community sponsors for Jamestown Community College, the owner of the Sheldon House, the council needs to approve the purchase, along with Chautauqua and Cattaraugus county legislatures.

Anthony Dolce, Ward 2 councilman, said he talked to Peg Cornell, who is a member of JCC’s Buildings and Grounds Committee, about the proposed purchaser. Cornell told Dolce that Signorile is planning to purchase the Sheldon House with plans of living at the residence.

Marie Carrubba, Ward 4 councilwoman and member of the JCC Board of Trustees, said Signorile is a local resident who has purchased older houses in the past to renovate them. She said that the purchase offer also includes the furniture inside the Sheldon House.

JCC officials have been trying to sell the Sheldon House since 2015 following a lengthy review by the board of trustees on what to do with the facility.

In January 2016, the Jamestown Community College Board of Trustees approved a proposal from Lynn Development to purchase the Sheldon House for $240,000. However, before the sale could be finalized, the city Zoning Board of Appeals had to approve a use variance to allow Lynn Development to renovate the Sheldon House into office space. The zoning board approved the use variance in May 2016.

Following the Zoning Board’s decision, Paul Leone, along with his wife, Dr. Ann Servoss, who live on Lakeview Avenue, and Timothy Mills, who lives on Falconer Street, appealed the use variance granted by the city Zoning Board of Appeals to state Supreme Court in Mayville.

The residents were against the variance because they said Lynn Development using the Sheldon House as its corporate headquarters would alter the character of the neighborhood because it would allow a commercial business to be in a single-family neighborhood.

The residents appealed the Zoning Board’s decision because they believe they didn’t follow the criteria established to issue a use variance.

Last year, the three residents appealed Sedita’s ruling to the Appellate Division Fourth Judicial Department of the state Supreme Court in Rochester. In June, the Appellate Court ruled in favor of the residents and annulled the city Zoning Board variance to allow for office space at the Sheldon House.

The house was built as a residence in 1869 and was later rebuilt in 1925. In 1977, the Sheldon House was given to the college by Julia Sheldon Livengood and has since been used to host many guests of the college, events and programs of both the college and the community.

In other council business, council will vote to authorize the mayor to enter into an agreement with the Gebbie Foundation to receive $100,000 which will be used as the local match to be used with a $400,000 grant from the state Department of Transportation. City officials will use the funding for wayfinding and signage in the downtown. The Transportation Alternatives Program/Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality grant will use the funding for the “Smart Tourism” initiative to develop signage to help people navigate downtown easier so they travel less by vehicle.

In other council business, they will vote to approved the local law to create the Local Property Tax Abatement Incentive Redevelopment of Vacant and Condemned Properties program. The tax abatement incentive program is something city officials have been working on creating for more than a year. The goal is to try and redevelop vacant houses that can still be saved from being demolished.

The program will include single or two-family residential properties that are vacant, legally condemned and have outstanding state and local code violations where the cost of remedying the violations exceeds the property value. Also, the program will include the construction of a new single or two-family residence of at last 1,200 square feet on a parcel where a previous house has been demolished.

An exemption will be granted through an application filled out by the owner of the property with the city assessor’s office before March 1 to qualify for that tax year. The application will include the scope of work, with cost estimates and quotes from contractors, plumbers and electricians who are licensed to do work in the city. The abatement period shall be for a period of 11 years. The abatement schedule will be zero percent for years one through three; 20 percent for years four and five; 40 percent for years six and seven; 60 percent for years eight and nine; 80 percent for years 10 and 11; and 100 percent starting year 12.