Taughannock Farm Inn in Trumansburg

After several months of an extended public hearing on dozens of variance requests, the Ulysses Board of Zoning Appeals has ruled on all the requests made by Carl Mazzocone, owner of the Inn at Taughannock. Because of the long list the rulings were split over two meetings. The latest meeting, on Aug. 22, covered the last three remaining requests for signs.

The remaining requests were for two freestanding signs and one business directional sign. At the previous BZA meeting the board granted Mazzocone’s request for three business directional signs as a group, on the condition that he only build two of the requested signs. This allowed Mazzocone to be the one to choose which signs he wanted to build, while not going over the zoning code allowance of two business directional signs per parcel.

The most important sign for the business, Mazzocone said, was the freestanding sign directing people from Route 89 onto Gorge Road. The variance request would be to replace the current sign with something smaller than what is already there. But the replacement would also be larger than what current zoning allows. The land that the sign is on is currently owned by the Department of Transportation (DOT) and Mazzocone would have to purchase the land before changing the sign. But there was confusion among members of the board about what parcel this sign would then become part of. There is also the possibility that it will be considered an off-premise sign.

The board granted the variance request on the conditions that he buy the land the sign is on, and that the proposed sign be in compliance with applicable state ruled and regulations or approval by the applicable state authorities. Because the BZA does not have the authority to regulate using state rules and regulations, this allowed the board to grant Mazzocone the sign he believes to be most important, using Town zoning regulations, while allowing the state to regulate the sign based on its own regulations.

The board also granted the variance request to replace a business directional sign on the south side of Gorge Road with a new sign that will be substantially larger than current zoning allows. But, it was agreed by the board that the sign was a necessary one for the business. This sign will direct guests to the rooms built across the road from the original inn.

The only sign denied a variance at the meeting was a freestanding sign that would have been built into a low retaining wall on the area of the property facing 89. Mazzocone argued that the sign, which would have simply been the word Taughannock, was meant to recognize and appreciate the area, not the business. The proposed sign would have been substantially larger than area code would allow for a freestanding sign. The board ultimately denied the variance arguing that there were already a large number of signs on the property and it would have added to visual clutter, and that this sign was not useful or necessary for the business.

"The owners of the historic Inn at Taughannock wish to thank the Town of Ulysses variance appeals board for their time and consideration,” Mazzocone said in an email. “We are very grateful for the variances that were granted and looks forward towards providing a spectacular wedding experience for our guests in the spring of 2018.”

This article originally ran in the Trumansburg Free Press on Aug. 30. Follow the Free Press on Facebook here.

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