MORE SACRIFICE DEMANDED OF VILLAGE BY LLC
Rowland’s persistent ongoing effort to expand her parking lot and demolish / relocate our Post Office date back to 2001. Her scheme has been seriously questioned by the Public Interest Law Firm of Syracuse University, criticized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, condemned by the State Historic Preservation Office, and opposed by many residents of Aurora.
Nevertheless, through a complex series of threats, enticements, and manipulations, she continued to push the project forward, often aided by the shifting positions of United States Postal Service officials. (See a full chronology of this attempted "development" with links to numerous supporting documents here.)
Aurora stands to lose a useful and much needed public building, valuable village-owned land, easily accessible postal service, the only non-LLC presence in our village center (save our public library), and much, much more if developer Rowland is allowed to demolish the existing post office building (on right) and move the postal facility into the Old School House (on left) in order to expand her corporation’s parking lot.
The developer created the parking problem! She destroyed parking spaces by building the overly-large new brick market, constructing intrusive new delivery drives, moving the old wooden shop building to the south, and expanding the garden next to the shop. The corporation should provide replacement parking on its own property without grabbing public land.
The LLC also created a severe traffic hazard by eliminating the curb cut-back in front of the inn and market, so that on exiting the parking lot the sight lines to the north can be non-existent. Rowland’s proposal does not remedy this extremely dangerous situation.
If the P.O. moves into the Old School, residents will lose safe, easy, ground level access to postal services with near-by off-street handicapped parking. The LLC's proposed replacement design is far less accessible, and may not comply with federal requirements.
In addition, the developer destroyed much of the historic interior of the 1901 School House prior to a required Section 106 review by the State Historic Preservation Office.
This is called “anticipatory demolition,” a violation of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966. Federal agencies -- like the USPS -- are prohibited from entering into contracts with violators of the NHPA. Furthermore, the School’s exterior has been altered with no regard for the guidelines governing alteration of buildings listed in a National Historic Register District. (Note the hideous granite balls and strange new stone entry.)
An additional instance of foreclosure under Section 100(K) of the NHPA may be seen in the fact that Rowland's Aurora Inn / Market project evaded a Section 106 Review by the State Historic Preservation Office when she withdrew her original plan to redesign the parking lot (which would have required federal permits from the USPS, thus triggering a review).
In May 2007, faced imminent review by the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation of the foreclosure issues in Aurora, Rowland backed out of her Post Office proposal. Unless the Vilage Board acts quickly and responsibly, Aurora will be in an untenable postiion, as the USPS lease expires in March 2009. See the latest developments and documents here.