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Saturday, March 06, 2010

ALBANY/ Zoning war shots fired

Topic requested...Please click onto the COMMENTS for the story.


Anonymous said...

First published in print: Friday, March 5, 2010

ALBANY -- A city lawmaker is moving to have two apartment buildings in the heart of Park South -- a neighborhood in the midst of redevelopment -- declared a nuisance, a legal maneuver that could force the landlord to empty most of the 33 units.

Councilman Richard Conti's complaint filed with the city's Board of Zoning Appeals is backed by nearby residents and property owners who petitioned for a hearing and focuses on hundreds of emergency calls logged at 61 and 105 Morris Street over the last three years.

The Park South Neighborhood Association is squarely behind the effort, unanimously declaring the 1950s-era brick apartment buildings a "general nuisance" at its last meeting.

"To describe these two buildings as a general nuisance, however, actually employs a euphemism," association President Andrew Harvey said. "These two buildings have fomented chronic blight."

But the landlord, Roger Ploof -- once the largest landowner in the gritty neighborhood between Washington Park and Albany Medical Center Hospital -- said the move may suggest more about people's distaste for the people he rents to, mostly low-income minorities.

"It's easier to blame the white landlord than to say you don't like black people," Ploof said Thursday when informed of the complaints by a reporter. "My personal thought is people try to pick on the white landlord rather than make the issue that we don't like the tenants."

Ploof, who said he's called police dozens of times about suspected drug dealers who are not his tenants but who loiter around his parking lots, vowed to fight the challenge.

He questioned why neither Harvey nor Conti -- neither of whom he said he's spoken to in years -- had contacted them if they had concerns about the properties.

Conti is seeking to have the buildings' zoning variances -- which allow them to house more than two families -- revoked. The area is zoned for one and two-family houses, but the apartment buildings are grandfathered because they pre-date the zoning designation. One of them has 15 units, the other has 18.

Ploof has had similar battles before.

In 2004, the city ordered Ploof to eliminate apartments from two North Allen Street rooming houses after neighbors filed complaints alleging they were a chronic nuisance.

When Ploof didn't initially comply, the city took him to court.

But Ploof, who now says those buildings were a bad fit for that neighborhood, said the Morris Street case is different.

Unlike North Allen, he said, those buildings are not houses carved into units but were originally built as multi-family apartment buildings.

An early piece of Park South's rebirth, in fact, came on land formerly owned by Ploof on nearby Knox Street, where a Boston development firm backed by public money renovated 18 row houses.

Several new office buildings have been built, or are rising, on lower New Scotland Avenue. Columbia Development Cos. also has plans for more new housing and retail in the area.

But Ploof, who said he suspects the distaste for his tenants has something to do with future plans for a more genteel Park South, contends he knows the neighborhood better than any of the relative newcomers.

3:41 PM  
Anonymous story continued said...

"I've been here forever," said Ploof, who currently owns about 30 buildings in the city. "They can say what they want, but I've personally kept the neighborhood alive for years."
Conti said that, on that score, Ploof is simply "not credible."

"I think that is laughable," the councilman said. "I think you can point to the decline of the Park South neighborhood with the expansion of the properties that he owns."

Conti's request is currently on the zoning board's March 24 agenda.

Jordan Carleo-Evangelist can be reached at 454-5445 or by e-mail at

Read more:

3:42 PM  
Blogger Sharon 4Anderson said...

Samo Samo on the East Side of St.Paul,Maria,Bates,Conway E 3rd
another 2 houses Condemned this week

6:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

same old crap for city after city. After a while it becomes so easy to see through.

2:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember reading the Albany's Insanity blog a couple years ago - it sounded eerily familiar.

The sleaze is not universal, but the cowards are trying to betray our way of life in other places besides St. Paul.

It would be interesting to see a list of the worst places.

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How much worse than St. Paul could it be? Inspectors who lie about violations, many allegations of shakedowns by city officials, Police who blame landlords rather than criminals and a city council that condones it all. It deosn't get much worse.

9:13 PM  
Anonymous said...

The Landlords are winning on Rule of Law, Discoery re: e-mails and Digital Filings.

8:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

St Paul is one one of the best cities to live according to every credible source.

It would be interesting for any of you to find any study by any institution that ranks St Paul as one of the worst cities to live in. Anything out there besides slum lords to back that up?

10:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best city because poor blacks ain't welcome

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Champions do not use chickenshit methds.

St Paul can evade responsibility. but the truth will come out. St Paul's moral bankruptcy will have it looking like Detroit in the future.

4:24 PM  

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