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Serving the communities of Massena and Potsdam, New York
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Massena woman applies for coffin-building shop in garage

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MASSENA – Massena resident Dorothy Costello recently went before the town of Massena planning board to seek approval to build coffins in her garage.

However, she’ll need to be granted a use variance from the zoning board of appeals before the planning board will consider her request.

Planning board Chair Vance T. Fleury said Ms. Costello’s residence at 295 North Racquette Road falls within an R1 residential zone, which he called the “most restricted” zone.

The board referred Ms. Costello to seek a use variance from the zoning board.

“The zoning board will have to look at it. It’s just not an accepted use,” Mr. Fleury said.

Board members pointed out there are certain requirements on electrical service and equipment use in running a workshop in a residential zone.

Ms. Costello said she has no plans to display signs or finished coffins in front of the shop, which she compared to an ordinary woodshop for hobby in one’s house.

“That’s what it’s like now – a residential workshop,” she said.

Ms. Costello declined to comment on her plans to open a coffin shop because her building application is still pending.

Mr. Fleury said use variances are commonly issued by the zoning board due to the limitations of zoning requirements.

“You can’t cover each possible variance in zoning,” he said.

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