The Bethlehem Central School District is placing a temporary hold on its lawsuit against the Bethlehem Zoning Board of Appeals because the district has found another potential buyer for its property at 90 Adams Place.
The district is suing the Zoning Board because it denied a use variance to School’s Out, Inc. The local daycare provider had been looking to purchase the district’s property at 90 Adams to relocate its headquarters, but the variance decision halted the sale.
“We have an interested buyer for the property, and if the sale goes forward there is no reason for us to continue with any legal proceedings,” said Bethlehem Central School District Superintendent Tom Douglas.
However, Douglas said the district is reserving its right to continue the lawsuit if the sale was to fall through.
At the district’s latest school board meeting on Tuesday, July 2, the Board of Education voted to authorize the sale of the property to Integrated Associates, LLC, for $425,000. Douglas said the contract for the sale is still being worked out.
“If they can find another buyer and can drop the suit, that would be a happy ending for everyone,” said Zoning Board of Appeals Chairman Dan Coffey.
However, any business purchasing the property would still need to apply for a use variance, since the former district administration offices sit in a residential neighborhood. This had proved to be a major hurdle under the town’s zoning.
“We would still have to see if this was something that would change the character of the town,” said Coffey.
If the sale goes forward, the district would be selling the property for $50,000 less than what was asked for from School’s Out. The district previously said it had trouble selling the property because of its location and because renovation costs and soft costs were deemed to be “economically infeasible” by other potential buyers.
To obtain a use variance, the district had to prove a lack of return on investment, that the hardship to the property was unique, that the use variance would not alter the character of the neighborhood and the alleged hardship was not self created.
In the case of School’s Out, most board members had agreed the hardship was unique and the school district did not create the problem, but said the sale would change the neighborhood’s character, mostly due to traffic. Neighbors argued buses and parents dropping off students at School’s Out would lead to an unsafe environment. They also said quality of life would diminish for residents and the move would destroy the unique character of the old Delmar neighborhood.
The district’s lawsuit challenged the Zoning Board’s determination that the building’s purchase by School’s Out would change the character of the neighborhood. The district also claimed the Zoning Board failed to consider the property’s size and how the district first received the building from the library in 1931, before existing zoning regulations were adopted.