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Ruling paves way for apartments near Eastman House-D&C Article-May 7, 2014

Ruling paves way for apartments near Eastman House
Brian Sharp, Staff Writer

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An artist’s rendering of the proposed apartments near the Eastman House. (Photo: Hanlon Architects , Submitted) (Left)

A state Supreme Court justice has struck down the George Eastman House’s multiple legal challenges to a proposed 99-unit apartment complex planned for University Avenue.

In four separate decisions, Justice Thomas Stander ruled in favor of developer Morgan Management and the property owner, the Monroe Voiture veterans group, which will see its 90-year-old clubhouse renovated as part of the project.

360° view: George Eastman House

“Judge Stander’s ruling puts to rest an 18-month-old argument over use of the land,” read a statement issued by Paul Ciminelli, the veterans’ attorney and an Army veteran himself. “This is a great day for the more than a dozen veterans groups of Rochester who have come to call Monroe Voiture home.”

At 933 University Ave., the three- and four-story development would sit at the heart of the Neighborhood of the Arts, on the edge of one of Rochester’s most revered historic districts, and within eyesight of its prized Eastman House — one of only two National Historic Landmarks in the city (the other being the Susan B. Anthony House).

Both the Eastman House and the Neighborhood of the Arts neighborhood association have been staunchly opposed to the development.

“The Preservation Board determined, after an exhaustive review of the project over a years time and with a number of hearings (which included numerous opportunities for public input), that the project is supported by the standards and considerations set forth in Rochester City Code,” Stander wrote, “and that the project will protect and enhance the East Avenue Preservation District.”

He found “no basis” for the challenge brought by Eastman House nor for a request to permanently restrain Morgan, the veterans group and city from moving ahead. Stander also dismissed a claim that city staff acted improperly in its review on the project’s impact, finding no merit to that claim nor an additional charge questioning actions by the Planning Commission.

“The record of the hearings presented to the court clearly show that this was not a ‘rush to judgment’ or one lacking in foundation,” Stander wrote, continuing later that the board’s approval of a Certificate of Appropriateness application for the project “was not arbitrary and capricious, was not an abuse of discretion, and did not violate lawful procedure.”

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