WATERTOWN — A judge has dismissed a series of lawsuits brought in opposition to the construction of a First Student bus garage in the Jefferson County Corporate Park, essentially ruling that all disputed issues were resolved when the town of Watertown Zoning Board of Appeals determined that the facility is not permissible in the park under town zoning law.
Corporate park tenants Car-Freshner Corp. and Opal Development LLC filed state Supreme Court action in July against the Jefferson County Planning Board, Lundy Development & Property Management Inc., the town of Watertown and its planning board, the Jefferson County Industrial Development Agency and other entities contending, among other things, that the bus maintenance facility was not allowed in a neighborhood/commercial zoning district under town zoning law. Onondaga Development LLC, which owns property adjoining the corporate park, filed a similar action.
The neighboring property owners claimed they would be harmed by the garage’s construction and operation due to increased traffic, environmental impact and reduction of property values.
In October, the Jefferson County Surrogate Court ordered the town’s ZBA to hear an appeal brought by Car-Freshner and Opal of the town Planning Board’s earlier determination that the bus garage was an allowable zoning use in the corporate park. The judge stated at the time that he was looking to compile a complete record of the matter that would help him make further rulings in the case. Instead, upon hearing the appeal on Dec. 19, the ZBA adopted a resolution stating that the First Student facility is an impermissible use within the town’s neighborhood/commercial district.
In a ruling filed Thursday at the Jefferson County clerk’s office, Judge Schwerzmann ruled the ZBA’s determination rendered issues raised in one lawsuit by Car-Freshner and Opal “moot,” prompting that suits’s dismissal. He then applied the same reasoning to the two additional suits.
“With the Zoning Board of Appeals having determined that the bus garage is not a permissible use under the relevant zoning district, both petitions are likewise moot and will be dismissed,” the judge wrote.
Town of Watertown Zoning Enforcement Officer David Ross said Thursday he plans to rescind Lundy Development’s zoning permit Friday. Lundy Development was slated to build First Student’s facility. First Student, which provides bus service for the Watertown City School District, is operating out of a temporary location on outer Bradley Street.
Times staff writer Marcus Wolf contributed to this report.