Troy padlocks RPI building

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Troy-- Variance hearing set tonight for student ambulance corps facility
KENNETH AARON, Staff writer

City officials have padlocked a Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute building because it allegedly violated zoning laws.

The school's student ambulance corps has been using the single-family home at 92 College Ave. as a clubhouse. City officials said that use isn't allowed under the law, though, and a variance hearing is scheduled for 6 tonight.

Troy Fire Chief Thomas Garrett said the city's decision last week to block access to the building was consistent with its handling of similar situations. Last week, for example, the city locked a South Troy auto repair shop that ran afoul of zoning laws, he said.

"We padlock them until they are in compliance," Garrett said.

RPI spokeswoman Theresa Bourgeois said the ambulance crew has used the building as an office, for storage of records and supplies, and as a place to sleep when on duty. She said the school pursued a variance hearing about a month ago, after learning of the city's issues.

The ambulance corps has about 20 members. In addition to providing around-the-clock emergency services to the campus during the school year, the group also covers athletic events on campus and assists local public safety agencies.

Students had vacated the building for the summer and weren't scheduled to move back to the building until later this week, Bourgeois said.

But vacancy is no defense, said Garrett.

"It doesn't matter if it's vacant -- they violated the law," he said.

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