City and Irondequoit get grants to combat zombie properties – rbj.net

City and Irondequoit get grants to combat zombie properties

by: Velvet Spicer

The City of Rochester and the Town of Irondequoit are two of 18 cities and towns statewide that will receive grants to address and transform zombie properties.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Monday announced the winners of the first phase of the Cities for Responsible Investment and Strategic Enforcement grant awards. The investment will total more than $10 million over the next two years.

The program aims to innovatively address and transform blighted, vacant or poorly maintained problem properties through the use of housing and community data from various state agencies. Cities RISE was launched in April as a strategy for helping New York families and communities rebuild from the housing crisis.

The funds will come from settlements made with large financial institutions that contributed to the collapse of the housing market, officials said.

“Too many New Yorkers are still struggling in the aftermath of the foreclosure crisis. That’s why my office is investing the dollars we secured from the banks, to provide the tools necessary to rebuild and strengthen our neighborhoods,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Cities RISE presents a 21st century approach to overcoming this crisis and revitalizing New York’s communities.”

The 18 communities were chosen by national community development nonprofits Enterprise Community Partners and the Local Initiatives Support Corp. Each community will receive a two-year subscription to a data platform designed to integrate and analyze data such as code enforcement records, tax liens and fire and police data.

In addition, grantees will receive capacity building support from Spruce Technology and the program will be guided by a senior advisory team of issue area experts who specialize in community revitalization and engagement.

“The Building Blocks software will be a valuable tool in our ongoing efforts to make government more transparent,” Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren said. “Using this software, individuals will be able to get detailed information about properties, particularly vacant properties, in the city. I am thankful to the attorney general for his advocacy on behalf of our citizens, which helps us in our efforts to create more jobs, safer and more vibrant neighborhoods and better educational opportunities.”

Click here to read more…

‘JUSTICE SYSTEM’ The Laws Cities Use To Make Homelessness a Crime. A new law gives police new power and wide discretion to arrest the most vulnerable.

‘JUSTICE SYSTEM’ The Laws Cities Use To Make Homelessness a Crime A new law gives police new power and wide discretion to arrest the most vulnerable.

By: Liz Wolfe

There’s nothing shocking, really, about Houston’s new law making it easier for homeless people to be arrested simply for being homeless.

Not when over 100 American cities have effectively criminalized everyday life for the homeless, making crimes of things from sleeping outside to brushing teeth in public. Even as cities become more socially conscious about LGBTQ rights and drug policies, they’ve become less tolerant of their neediest inhabitants and more comfortable with cops and the justice system sweeping up the human trash, as it were.

City-wide bans on public camping (PDF) have increased by 69 percent throughout the United States. What used to be seen as an annoyance is now prohibited, forcing fines or jail time on those who certainly can’t afford it. The only nationwide nonprofit devoted to studying this, the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, has been tracking these changes since 2006. Their findings? There are a scary number of laws passed that ironically make it costly to be

For example, in 33 of the 100 U.S. cities they studied, it’s illegal to publicly camp. In 18, it’s illegal to sleep in public. Panhandling is illegal in 27 cities.

In 39 cities, it’s illegal to live in vehicles. For extreme sports junkies (like Yosemite climbers who try to live in their cars), this is an inconvenience. For the homeless, it leaves no alternatives, especially if shelters are too far, too full, or too violent (a common problem). For some people, the choice might be between living in a car or sleeping outside—but what if both are criminalized?

This situation is playing out before our averted eyes in Dallas. The police issued over 11,000 citations for sleeping in public from January 2012 to November 2015. That’s about 323 citations per month, or around ten per day. These citations generally come with fines, and failure to pay (which is to be expected, given that these people are homeless) comes with worse legal trouble, often snowballing into jail time.

 Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner is taking a similar approach—his anti-encampment ordinance makes it illegal to use “fabric, metal, cardboard, or other materials as a tent or temporary structure for human habitation.” This ensures that the Houstonian homeless are vulnerable not just to the elements, but also to the constant threat of the police. Officials cite one of the most common justifications for crackdowns on the homeless: neighborhood safety (a more socially acceptable way of talking about the not-in-my-backyard mentality).

City officials in Houston claim tent cities make it easy to hide illicit activity. If by “illicit activity,” they mean drug use, then sure. But as we’ve learned through the embarrassing failures of the drug war, drug use isn’t always as bad as we think and it certainly isn’t improved by greater criminalization efforts. Tent cities are often formed to provide some degree of protection from the elements—not just a haven for drug use.

Mayor Turner says he’s pairing the ban on tents with a bid to increase the number of shelter beds, and that a new police policy will prioritize issuing warnings and attempting to take violators to receive medical treatment, if needed.

All of this would be good if true, but what the new law really does is give police new power and wide discretion to arrest the vulnerable. As with many marginalized groups—including drug users, sex workers and undocumented immigrants—this means the homeless will increasingly fear the police instead of being able to rely on them for help.

Worst of all, is there anything logical about saddling homeless people with jail time?

Click here to read more…

Lake Ontario Flood Recovery

The application period closed Friday, September 29, 2017 at 5:00 PM.
Your supporting documentation, estimates and additional information will continue to be accepted if your application was in by the deadline.

Procedural update.
The legislation providing the Flood Relief funding required that we prioritize situation that pose imminent health and safety risks to the occupants. This includes damage to structure, walls and septic systems. This application will be served before stand-alone shoreline applicants.
Stand-alone shoreline damage application will be reviewed and applicants will be contacted if additional information is needed at such time as we are able to serve them. Once you have applied no further action is needed until you are contacted by our staff.

The best way to communicate is via e-mail to floodrelief@pathstone.org. We can respond to at least 10 emails in the time that is spent on one phone call.

Please help us help you more efficiently.

Helping Homeowners and Municipalities Recover from Flood Damage along the Lake Ontario Coastline – Updated

To expedite repairs and the construction of shoreline stabilization projects, Governor Cuomo declared a disaster emergency on May 2, 2017 in counties impacted by spring flooding along the Lake Ontario Coastline: Cayuga, Jefferson, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, Oswego, St. Lawrence, and Wayne.

To aid in relief and recovery efforts, New York State is providing $22 million in assistance for homeowners, businesses and municipalities. From restoring roads, floodwalls and public water infrastructure to assisting small businesses with physical damage to providing New Yorkers with the help they need to repair their homes, these targeted programs are delivering relief to New York families across the entire Lake Ontario region.

$7 Million Available for Homeowners Impacted by Flooding

New York State Homes and Community Renewal will make available up to $7 million in state funding for homeowners along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River in the aftermath of the extreme weather and severe flooding in the region. The new investment program will provide up to $40,000 for homeowners to support interior and exterior repairs to structural damage caused by flooding, as well as the repair or replacement of permanent fixtures.

For more information about eligibility and program parameters, read the Lake Ontario Home Owner Recovery Assistance Program Fact Sheet.

TO APPLY:

For Homeowners:

Download the application HERE.

The program will be administered through not-for profit housing organizations seeking to help homeowners affected by the flooding. Homeowners seeking assistance are encouraged to contact the not-for-profit organizations that have already expressed interest in serving as program participants to determine eligibility and ask questions about the program. Those organizations are listed below, along with their contact information and the areas they intend to serve:

Cayuga, Monroe and Wayne Counties

Sheen Housing
www.sheenhousing.org
sheen2@rochester.rr.com
585-657-4114

Orleans County

Pathstone
www.thehousingcouncil.org
floodrelief@pathstone.org
585-546-3700

Jefferson, Oswego and St. Lawrence Counties

Neighbors Of Watertown, Inc.
www.neighborsofwatertown.com
Floodinfo@neighborsofwatertown.com
315-782-8497

Niagara County

Niagara Falls Neighborhood Housing Services, Inc.
www.niagarfallsnhs.org
nfnhs@nfnhs.org
716-285-7778

Homeowners may also contact the HCR Office of Community Renewal to express interest by contacting LakeOntario@nyshcr.org or calling 518-474-2057.

** We do not have any information at this time on the pending additional $90 MM for flood victims. We will share information as it becomes available, thank you for your patience. **

It’s Not Too Late to Apply for the Lake Ontario Residential Recovery Program
Deadline Friday September 29th 5pm

Lake Ontario Flood Relief Home Repair Program Application

 

 The application period closed Friday, September 29, 2017 at 5:00 PM. Your supporting documentation, estimates and additional information will continue to be accepted if your application was in by the deadline.

Procedural update.

The legislation providing the Flood Relief funding required that we prioritize situation that pose imminent health and safety risks to the occupants. This includes damage to structure, walls and septic systems. This application will be served before stand-alone shoreline applicants. Stand-alone shoreline damage application will be reviewed and applicants will be contacted if additional information is needed at such time as we are able to serve them. Once you have applied no further action is needed until you are contacted by our staff. The best way to communicate is via e-mail to floodrelief@pathstone.org. We can respond to at least 10 emails in the time that is spent on one phone call. Please help us help you more efficiently.

 

Deadline approaches for national flood insurance program – Democrat & Chronicle

Deadline approaches for national flood insurance program

by: Herb Jackson and Nicole Gaudiano

WASHINGTON — Home sales in New York and other coastal states could begin to decline this summer in areas prone to flooding as Congress considers dramatic changes to the National Flood Insurance Program.

Congress has until September 30 to renew the program, but disagreements remain over how much homeowners should be forced to pay for flood insurance to make the debt-ridden program more solvent.

Buyers and sellers of real estate in floodplains could start to see an impact as early as July, said Mike Kelly, director of government affairs for the New York State Association of Realtors. Absent congressional action, the National Association of Realtors estimates 1,300 home sales nationwide could be delayed or lost each day that the program fails to be reauthorized.

“It isn’t the drop deadline date when everything comes to a standstill,” Kelly said. “Things start to grind to a halt much earlier. Even before September, we’re going to see pending home sales and home purchases begin to slow because of that ambiguity of, ‘Will the program be authorized or not?’”

Created in 1968, when the private insurance industry largely stopped covering floods, the national program tried to get property owners in flood zones to pay premiums that could be pooled to cover disasters and fund mitigation programs and mapping to spur smarter land development.

Despite bipartisan support, action to renew the law has slowed this spring, and while Sept. 30 may seem a long way off, Congress is only due to be in session about a month and a half worth of legislative days before the law expires.

A bipartisan group of senators proposed an overhaul of the program on Tuesday that would cap premium increases, use advanced radar to make more accurate flood maps, and offer some homeowners vouchers to pay for coverage and loans to elevate buildings.

The bill, sponsored by senators on two key committees and from states that rely heavily on the program, is one of several proposals pending this year for a program that insures 5 million homes and businesses, including 184,000 in New York, but cannot repay nearly $25 billion borrowed from the treasury to respond to catastrophic storms, including Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

“Americans deserve a flood insurance program that is sustainable for taxpayers, affordable for homeowners, and accountable to everyone,” Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., said at a news conference. Led by Menendez and Louisiana Republican John Kennedy the group also includes Republicans Thad Cochran of Mississippi and Marco Rubio of Florida and Democrats Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, Cory Booker of New Jersey, Bill Nelson of Florida and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts.

Menendez, Kennedy, Warren and Van Hollen all serve on the Senate’s banking committee, which is responsible for writing the new bill. Cochran is chairman of the appropriations committee, which funds disaster relief, and Rubio and Kennedy are members of the committee.

Click here to read the full story…

‘Isolated and depressed’: One woman’s life-changing story of Sojourner House – Democrat & Chronicle

‘Isolated and depressed’: One woman’s life-changing story of Sojourner House

by: Caurie Putnam

So much has changed in LaRhonda Harris’ life in a year.

“I was isolated and depressed,” said Harris, 27, recalling life at this time last year.  “My daughter and I were not in a good situation. Where we were living at wasn’t good at all.”

On Aug. 22, 2016, Harris had enough of living in an unhealthy environment.

With a suitcase and her two-year old daughter she showed up at Sojourner House at PathStone seeking safe shelter.  She received that and more.

“They brought the light back out in me,” said Harris, about the staff at Sojourner House – a Rochester nonprofit that provides women and children who are homeless or in crisis with housing and educational programs.

“I went to weekly groups – domestic violence groups and women’s groups.  They taught me how to never look back and how to be a stronger person,” she added.

Harris is now looking for a job and has her own apartment at Wilson Commencement Park (which became a PathStone Corporation agency in 2016).

“I feel happier than I ever did in my life,” she said.  “My home is so beautiful; I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.”

Harris’ story is one of countless success stories in the 35-year history of Sojourner House and one of the reasons the nonprofit is celebrating that milestone on June 16 at their Gala for Strength.

“We have hundreds of success stories of women leaving Sojourner House with their life back on track and that is because of the committed staff and incredible support that the Rochester community has shown us,” said Seanelle (Tracy) Hawkins, EdD., executive director of Sojourner House at PathStone and Wilson Commencement Park.  “The gala is our opportunity to thank our supporters and celebrate our successes.”

The gala is also a way to close a gap that remains in Sojourner House’s budget after the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced a $227,000 cut to Sojourner House and $142,000 cut to Wilson Commencement Park in the spring of 2016.

“It looked like doom and gloom for Sojourner House,” said Hawkins, about when the cuts first happened.  “We were devastated.”

Hawkins and the board of directors created a program redesign taskforce that streamlined services among PathStone agencies and acquired significant donations by the community and the Daisy Marquis Jones Foundation.  All that remains, now, is a $35,000 gap Hawkins hopes the gala will close.

“We wrote letters to the community and checks poured in,” Hawkins said.  “It was powerful for us to learn just how much we mean to the community.”

Hawkins compared the community support over the past year to the support the organization received in the late 1980s when (on Aug. 25, 1987) the interior of Sojourner House’s original location on East Main Street was destroyed by a resident’s former abusive partner in an arson attack.

In 1989, Sojourner House officially reopened its doors in the former convent of St. Monica’s Church on Millbank St. (where it remains today).

“The community rallied around us then and three decades later the community has come back again to help celebrate Sojourner House,” Hawkins said.  “Thirty years later the community recognizes the value Sojourner House brings to the community.  We’re such a beacon of hope for women and children in need.”

Click here for the full story…

 

Mount Morris valedictorian: Hard work at school and family business prompts success – Democrat & Chronicle

Mount Morris valedictorian: Hard work at school and family business prompts success

by: Mary Chao

Along the main route that leads into Mount Morris, New Mun Yuen Chinese Restaurant sits in a dated strip plaza with a Save-A-Lot supermarket as an anchor. Its outdoor signage is faded with age, matching the vintage of the plaza. Inside the restaurant, the Lin family and their six children are scattered about, with dad Din Zhao Lin handling the wok duties, stir frying Chinese American dishes such as sesame chicken, while his wife Li Feng Chen prepares the orders.

Life at the Chinese restaurant is the bane of Nelly Lin’s existence since arriving in Mount Morris 12 years ago. The family had lived on the lower east side of Manhattan when they saw an ad in the Chinese newspaper World Journal for a takeout restaurant in a small town in upstate New York. Weary from working until midnight and not seeing their kids, Lin and his wife decided to give life in a new area a chance. They arrived in the Livingston County town not knowing any one, with minimal English skills, and hoping for a better life for their children. Mun Yuen means abundant sources in Chinese and it was the family’s hope that their new hometown would be filled with prosperity.

Nelly, 18, the oldest of the children, didn’t speak English when her young life was uprooted from New York’s Chinatown brimming with new immigrants. But with help from her teachers and through sheer determination, she will graduate as valedictorian of Mount Morris High School on June 25, walking down the aisle to receive her diploma as the first in her family to attend college as she is bound for the State University of New York at Geneseo.

12 hour days, 364 days a year

In many ways, the Lins are akin to other Chinese immigrants: Work and save to open a takeout restaurant that requires minimal English language skills and hope that the second generation will fare better. Life is not easy for these families or their children. Instead of Little League or recitals, free time is spent at the restaurant helping the family business. There are no weekends or holidays off. The Lins work 364 days a year, 12 hours a day, with the only day off being Thanksgiving. In order to make enough money at a small takeout, they do not hire additional help.

The Lin children arrive at the restaurant after school and work on their school projects and play games with each other. Five more girls followed Nelly: Linda, 16; Ian, 13; Anna, 11; Holly, 10 and Monica, 7.

As the eldest, Nelly takes charge of her sisters’ care in addition to her duties at the family restaurant and school. Education is serious business for Nelly as she realizes that it’s the path to a life outside restaurants.

“They’re always emphasizing education,” Nelly said of her parents.

Both her parents are from the Fuzhou province of China, where there was a big influx of immigration in the 1990s, after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre in China gave them enhanced consideration for asylum. Chen arrived in 1995 and her husband Lin arrived in 1997, meeting in the restaurant industry in New York. There was little work in Fuzhou back then, Chen, 43, said in Mandarin Chinese. She paid a syndicate $40,000 for transport to the United States and blended into a sea of immigrants in New York working in the back end of restaurants.

Chen met her husband while both working at a restaurant in Manhattan. Nelly was born in Brooklyn but the family moved to the Chinatown area. Chen worried that her daughters weren’t picking up English in an ethnic neighborhood and hated having to work until midnight and not seeing her children. The restaurant in Mount Morris was within their financial reach and was a way to reconnect with her kids. The long work days are not ideal, but at least the entire family is together, she said.

“We are happy as a family,” Chen said in Chinese.

Life in a small town

The town of Mount Morris on the edge of the popular Letchworth State Park has a population of 4,465 as of the 2010 Census. More than 95 percent of residents are Caucasian and less than one percent are Asian.  The Lin family do not know any other Chinese families in town.

Getting to the top of the class wasn’t easy for Nelly as her parents could do little to help with her homework since they speak very little English. She would arrive at school early to get the extra tutoring she needed, asking teachers before class started.

“She is one of the most hardworking, conscientious people I’ve ever met,” said Becky Chenaille, principal of Mount Morris High School. “She is very self-motivated.”

Twenty-six percent of the students in the school district are English-language learners, mostly from Puerto Rico, she said. The school district is cognizant of the needs of English as Second Language students and has three ESL teachers on staff to ensure they succeed.

Nelly Lin has an incredible work ethic, overcoming the obstacles of being an English-language learner, said Ryan Humphrey, who was her eighth-grade living environment teacher and her 11th-grade chemistry teacher.

“It seemed as if she never could learn enough and always wanted to know more. She always wanted to know what she could do better or how to improve. These types of maturity and motivation are something I hadn’t seen very often, let alone in an eighth- grader,” Humphrey said.

As an 11th grader, she was taking regents chemistry, with many seniors and other accelerated classmates.

“She had the strongest work ethic out of all the students and that paid off with the highest chemistry Regents score that year for her class,” Humphrey added.  “I will never forget Nelly asking two months before the Regents exam asking if she can have some practice exams to get a head start. Mind you, Nelly would find time for all of this extra studying and reviewing while helping run the family restaurant.“

The motivation to be a high academic achiever while helping her family does come with personal sacrifices. Nelly was in the chorus in ninth grade but dropped out to focus on her studies.

Click here to read the full story…

Senate to consider bill prohibiting housing discrimination against LGBT people – housingwire.com

Senate to consider bill prohibiting housing discrimination against LGBT people

Would expand Fair Housing Act to cover gender identity and sexual orientation

by: Ben Lane

Currently, the federal Fair Housing Act prohibits housing discrimination based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, familial status, or disability, but that could soon change thanks to a newly introduced bill backed by several prominent Senate Democrats.

The bill, the Fair and Equal Housing Act of 2017, would expand the Fair Housing Act to cover gender identity and sexual orientation as protected classes.

he push to expand the protections of the Fair Housing Act is being led by Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Virginia, who spent much of his pre-political career as a fair housing attorney.

Also backing the bill are Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin; Chris Van Hollen, D-Maryland; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass; Maggie Hassan, D-New Hampshire; Patrick Leahy, I-Vermont; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York; Ron Wyden, D-Oregon; Ed Markey, D-Mass, Al Franken, D-Minn; Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon; Corey Booker, D-New Jersey, Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn; Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nevada; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-Rhode Island; and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio.

The legislation is a companion bill to a similar bipartisan action introduced in the House of Representatives earlier this year by Reps. Scott Taylor, R-Virginia; and Brad Schneider, D-Illinois, which is still in subcommittee.

Adding gender identity and sexual orientation as protected classes would ensure equal housing opportunities for all Americans, Kaine said.

“As a former civil rights attorney who focused on fair housing, I learned that a house is more than just an object. It’s part of the very definition of who you are as a person and is central to every American’s life,” Kaine said.

“Because of incomplete protections in federal housing law, LGBT Americans can face discrimination when they try to buy or rent a home, just because of who they are,” Kaine added.

“This is about equality, and no American should be turned away from a home they love because of who they love,” Kaine said. “I would like to thank Rep. Taylor for his leadership on this issue, as well as all the civil rights attorneys out there fighting for justice on this issue every day.”

Of the bills, Taylor said that expanding the Fair Housing Act would ensure equal protection for all Americans.

“This bill protects and codifies a fundamental American principle: fairness, respect, and equal treatment under the law,” Taylor said. “Nobody should face discrimination about where they live because of who they love.”

Adding the federal protections is critically important, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which bills itself as “the nation’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans.”

Currently, only 20 states along with the District of Columbia explicitly outlaw housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, while another two states ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

“This patchwork of protections leaves millions of LGBTQ people vulnerable,” the Human Rights Campaign said.

In a statement, Human Rights Campaign Government Affairs Director David Stacy celebrated the bill.

“In far too many places across the country, LGBTQ people are at risk of being denied housing or kicked out of their homes just because of who they are,” Stacy said.

“What side of a state line you live on should not determine your ability to find a place to live without fear of discrimination,” Stacy added. “We thank Senator Tim Kaine for his continued leadership working to end unjust discrimination against LGBTQ people.”

Click here to read more…

5 things to know about Verizon’s Pittsford cell tower plan – Democrat & Chronicle

5 things to know about Verizon’s Pittsford cell tower plan

by: Sarah Taddeo

Verizon Wireless is looking to erect a cell tower behind a Pittsford church, sending some neighbors into an uproar about possible ill effects of the building project. Here’s what you need to know about the proposed tower before a town public hearing on Monday.

Where is it being proposed?

The approximately 100-foot tower, which will be disguised as a tree, is proposed for a small backyard plot of land owned by the United Church of Pittsford, on State Route 64, or South Main Street, just south of the village. The church owns the land, which is zoned Residential Neighborhood, and Verizon would lease the plot with the intention of building a tower that would be used  by several mobile phone service carriers.

Why is a cell tower needed?

The new equipment will improve the quality of life for those living, working and traveling in Pittsford by helping them connect to Verizon’s cell network, according to an emailed statement from Verizon.

Jimmy Reader, pastor of United Church of Pittsford, said many congregation members have experienced cell reception issues in the general area.

“We feel it’s good for the community because most of us have a really hard time having good connection with Verizon,” he said. A Verizon service map provided with the tower application shows several sparsely covered spots south and east of Pittsford village.

What’s the process of approval?

Church members heard about the concept several years ago, when Verizon was looking for a new tower location in Pittsford, said Reader. There are at least four cell reception antennas or towers in the immediate town/village area, based on the Verizon coverage map, and there are 13 total cell towers in the Town of Pittsford, said Town Supervisor Bill Smith.

The congregation voted unanimously to allow Verizon to build on church property in early 2016, said Reader, but the project application, submitted to the town last month, needs approval from the Planning Board to move forward.

The tower proposal is different from other development proposals in that tower siting is regulated under federal law, said Smith.

Essentially, the town can’t regulate in a way that would prohibit Verizon from providing cell service to the area. The town must then work with the provider to find a suitable location for a cell tower or antenna in a general area within a reasonable amount of time — in this case, 150 days from when the application is submitted — to ensure proper cell coverage, said Smith.

Board members can raise concerns about a specific site and ask Verizon to provide information about other site options, which they’ve already done in this case.

If the board denies this application, it must provide substantiated reasons in writing. Because the board asked Verizon to clarify pieces of the application, the 150-day clock has been put on hold until the board’s questions are addressed, said Smith.

What do neighbors think?

Several nearby residents feel the installation and its accompanying infrastructure could disrupt the neighborhood.

Mary Carafos, who lives on South Main Street across from the church, said neighbors didn’t get enough notice about the project, though legal notices appeared in the local newspaper and on the town website. Several colorful signs dot her front yard in view of the road, emblazoned with sayings like “No Cell Tower” and offering project information to passers-by.

Verizon is looking to place the tower in a residential neighborhood, while some other area towers are in industrial or agricultural settings, she said. “There’s got to be a better location for it,” she said.

Melissa Peets, whose yard backs up to the church parking lot, said she’s worried about noise emitting from generators that may be installed with the tower, and the effect the whole project could have on local wildlife. She added that she’s never experienced Verizon reception issues in the neighborhood.

What’s next?

A public hearing is planned for the proposal at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the auditorium at Pittsford Sutherland High School, 55 Sutherland Street. The town will hear public comment as part of its continued review of the application.

Click here to read the full story…