Sheldon House Buyer Says He Would Live At Property

The new proposed purchaser for the Sheldon House wants to make it an owner-occupied residence.

On Monday, Jamestown City Council discussed the proposed purchase of the Sheldon House by 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.

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 the intention to live there.

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 and renovated 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. The four criteria points include:

¯The applicant cannot realize a reasonable return, provided that lack of return is substantial as demonstrated by competent financial evidence.

¯The alleged hardship relating to the property in question is unique and does not apply to a substantial portion of the district or neighborhood.

¯The requested use variance, if granted, will not alter the essential character of the neighborhood.

¯The alleged hardship has not been self-created.

In August 2016, state Supreme Court Judge Frank Sedita III dismissed the resident’s appeal, upholding the city Zoning Board’s 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.

According to the ruling, Jamestown Community College and Lynn Development failed to present any evidence to the city Zoning Board that satisfies the first variance request requirement of unnecessary hardship. According to the Appellate Divison’s ruling, this meant JCC and Lynn Development did not prove they could not realize a reasonable return on the property by any conforming use.

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.