State DEC rules for ZBA in Geneva Trinity case

The debate over who will handle the required environmental review for the Trinity Episcopal Church redevelopment project is over.

Basil Seggos, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, made a determination this week that designates the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals — not the Planning Board — as lead agency for the Trinity project, which involves converting the grounds into an events center, restaurant and inn.

In order for Trinity to proceed with the multimillion-dollar project that is opposed by a group of residents on South Main Street, the church must receive a use variance from the ZBA.

To grant the variance, the church must demonstrate hardship, and that the project would not alter the essential character of the neighborhood.

The church spent a good portion of 2017 seeking the variance. A ZBA decision to grant it was later rescinded by the same panel in the face of a lawsuit brought by neighbors who have argued that the project will have a detrimental effect on the neighborhood. Their arguments in court focused more on the technical aspects of the approval process.

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