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Board to decide fate of 791 Madison Ave.

May 11, 2011

by Bakari Lake-Sample

Vacant business at 791 Madison Ave. (Bakari Lake-Sample)

A plan for a new pizzeria and restaurant on Madison Avenue appears before the Zoning Board of Appeals tonight, months after the proposal was first rejected because there are too many pizzerias nearby. The board meets tonight at 5:30 p.m. in Albany City Hall to determine whether or not to approve a special use permit for the property on 791 Madison Ave.

The proposed use for the property is for a pizzeria restaurant with both sit down and delivery service. The first application for a special use permit at the site was submitted on behalf of  Akin Karaarslan, who would be the proprietor of the restaurant. That request was denied by the board of zoning appeals on January 26. In its decision,  the zoning board noted that there were already similar businesses operating in the area.

The owner of the building appealed the decision and requested a special use permit that would allow for a restaurant with both sit down dining as well as pizza delivery, according to lawyer Peter Lynch. He represents building owner Lily Pak.

“The ordinance does not authorize the Board to establish quotas on the type of business in a C-1 zone,” said Lynch,  in a supplemental statement supporting the special use permit application. “There is simply no legal basis to deny a special use permit under a claim of saturation.”

The board’s decision to deny the application was  based on the lack of long term commercial sustainability, which was not clearly supported by the  facts. “The premises has been used as a restaurant since at least 1956,”  Lynch said.  “Moreover, the Board did not specify the ‘district objectives’ that the proposed use failed to meet.”

Pak has owned the building on 791 Madison Ave. for 24 years. During those years she ran her own restaurant, the Shangri-LA Chinese restaurant, and also leased out the building to other tenants. The most recent business was the Interlan Cyber Cafe, which is now vacant.

Karaarslan , who operates a business in Wallingford, Conn., would operate the proposed pizzeria.  “He is an experienced restaurant owner,” Pak said. She also emphasized that the proposed business would also provide sit-down dining.

The supplemental statement providing to the Zoning Board by Lynch appears below:


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