A city attorney has taken issue with Ward 4 Councilor Ken Camera’s criticism of the city’s handling of the Trinity Episcopal use-variance application, including the associated costs paid to outside legal counsel.
Camera also questioned whether the Zoning Board of Appeals members were qualified to serve and whether they should resign.
Camera said at Wednesday’s Council meeting that he was concerned the city had paid the Syracuse law firm of Hancock and Estabrook $34,000 to assist the ZBA in Trinity’s second use-variance application, which was approved in May but which is being contested in state Supreme Court by project opponents on South Main Street.
“That’s a lot of money,” Camera said.
The legal bill was reported by the Finger Lakes Times in July after the city released billing records following the paper’s Freedom of Information request.
The church, in conjunction with developer Mark McGroarty, wants to convert its South Main Street property into an events center, inn and restaurant.
Camera said the city has not handled the project well. First proposed nearly two years ago, Camera said it “got off on the wrong foot” when the code office failed in the first application to issue a formal letter informing the church that the proposed development did not fit the street’s historic-residential zoning.