The Odd Couple – Land Use Planning & Real Estate Industry 


As a thirty year practitioner of public land planning and now working in commercial real estate, I am in a unique position of seeing how these practices complement one another.  At first thought, these practices have little in common beyond their subject matter – land and the ways it’s used by people.

I knew the language of real estate but not the tools or techniques that make it work. In contrast, I studied land use planning and practiced at several towns and county. I hoped to make a smooth transition from public service to real estate sales with a lot of support from the Sutton team, training seminars and requisite study for state licensing!

Similar Goals – The prime objective of the real estate industry is to seek the highest and best  use for land while the guiding light of public land use planning is the highest and most compatible  use of land. “Highest and best use” or HBU is a phrase we fundamentally understand: maximize the use of land to maximum value!

HBU serves many masters from appraisal, land assessment and taxation and, for the real estate industry, a benchmark of the market.

Public Land Planning – Plans alone do not ensure that what is planned will be carried out. Creative communities in past centuries experimented with defining areas of different uses –  zoning land – and assigning uses permitted in each. Compatible uses would adjoin like uses identified on a zoning map and detailed in a code. Typical zoning codes include allowed uses, parcel sizes, dimensions, building heights and size, parking requirements, etc.  Just 95 years ago (1926) the U.S. Supreme Court acknowledged zoning as a legitimate use of municipal authority and communities nationwide adopted zoning as a way to control  development.

In practice, public land use planning is fundamentally a negotiation for the use of land by society – its citizens, business and government. Ideally, a negotiation proceeds through a series of meetings guided by a community’s “master” or “comprehensive” plan. Governmental bodies such as planning boards, zoning boards and legislative bodies interact with applicants and citizens to find a legally permissible and publicly acceptable plan for land improvement. Interaction in a public setting is intended to reach decision(s) acceptable to most parties. Negotiation, when done well contributes to the common good.

I like to think that my dual experience helps me better serve my customers and clients.  Whether through general real estate advice or conferring on right-to-build issues and general regulatory process, more knowledge is always a plus.

Richard T. Robb 

Licensed Real Estate Salesperson

Sutton Handles Four Sales Totaling $3.42 Million

Real Estate Associate Broker Ken Tyminski handled the sale of 3221 East Genesee Street, totaling $2.4 million. The property has been leased to the Joslin Diabetes Center.

Real Estate Salesperson Karen Cannata-LaRocca and Real Estate Associate Broker Stephen Saleski handled the sale of 9 Genesee Street, a multifamily property in Camillus, selling for $380,000. Cannata-LaRocca and Saleski acted on behalf of both the buyer and seller.

Cannata-LaRocca also handled the sale of 6271 Fremont Rd. in East Syracuse. The seller was represented by Bill Anninos of CBRE, while Karen represented the buyer, Lakeview Lawn & Landscape Inc. The property sold for $245,000 and consists of a 2,592 s/f building on a .83 acre lot.

Cannata-LaRocca also brokered the sale of two parcels on Breed Rd. in Camillus on 124.32 acres, totaling $375,000. Norman B. Viti, Sr. Income Only Trust was the seller and Paul Dyachuk was the buyer.

Perks of Renting an Apartment

Now that the world has loosened restrictions and people are redefining their independence again, you may be considering a move. If you’re on the fence about whether or not an apartment might be right for you, read on:

Maintenance – First, and arguably the leading reason to rent, is the ability to rely on a property manager when problems arise in your apartment. When it comes to maintenance and repairs, you have a built in safety net. The cost of repairs lands with the landlord/manager rather than the renter. Apartment buildings who utilize property managers are able to deal with issues quickly and hassle free. 

Cheaper Bills – Usually, many things are included in your monthly rent bill for an apartment, like electric, gas, water, security, trash collection, and sometimes more. It’s also cheaper to heat and cool an apartment rather than a house because of the square foot difference.

Amenities – Most apartment buildings these days have the basic in-unit amenities such as AC, granite countertops, and a dishwasher. But community amenities have become so important to tenants over the years, it’s easy to find an apartment complex that offers extra perks, like in-house gyms, pools, and community rooms. And better yet, the higher end apartments have even more to offer, such as guest suites for family and friends, spas, and valet trash service. 

No Mortgage – All you need is money for a deposit for an apartment. No mortgage necessary or large down payment, and you usually have the opportunity to collect your deposit back at the end of your lease if you choose to move out!

Find the Right Apartment

Syracuse Apartments For Rent

Many college graduates and young adults opted to move back in with mom and dad during the pandemic. But now that the world has opened back up, you may be considering finally moving out of your childhood bedroom and into your own space.

But how can you make sure you find the right apartment? Here are some checklist items to think about before signing that lease.

  1. Budget – before starting the search, look over your finances and credit score. Rule of thumb is to spend no more than 30 percent of your gross income on rent. The 50/30/20 rule is a great budgeting technique to follow; 50 percent of your budget should go towards rent and bills, 30 percent of your budget is for wants, like shopping and eating out, and 20 percent is for savings.
  2. Amenities – Consider your lifestyle. Do you need a pet-friendly apartment for your dog? Do you love to exercise and need to be near some hiking trails? Is an in-unit washer and dryer more important to you than being close to work? Understanding what you want versus what you need will be very beneficial in narrowing down your search. 
  3. Apartment Building Location – Are you the type who needs peace and quiet after coming home from work? Or would the sounds of city night-life excite you in the evening? Consider how far you would want to be from grocery stores, gyms, and even family and friends. 
  4. Apartment Unit Location – Property managers may show you a model unit to help you envision what you can do with the space when you move in, but it’s more helpful to see the specific unit you will be moving into. Are you living right above a noisy bar? Next to an elevator? How many stairs would you have to walk up? If considerate neighbors are a must, it’s probably best to avoid a unit next to a high-traffic common area. 
  5. Lease – Your Property Manager will thank you if you actually take the time to read over your lease. Paying attention to what’s written in your lease will save you possible headaches in the future. Talk up front about what happens if you need to break your lease early, and what kind of fees you could be looking at if you do so.

A Happy Farewell

Joanne Lippert, Suttons Property Manager of the Crouse Physicians Office Building, is retiring after 33 years of service. Joanne’s career started in May 1988 when Sutton was hired to manage The Meadows at Westbrook Hills during the foreclosure process. When asked what she did, she responded “everything” and was quickly promoted to Property Manager.

Joanne’s work ethic, high energy personality and commitment to the buildings she managed and the staff she worked so closely with has made her the ultimate team player. Joanne has been a contributing factor in the success of some of Sutton’s most interesting and high profile properties. In addition to Westbrook Hills, she managed Clarendon Heights Apartments, Hampton Estates Townhomes and is currently the manager and leasing agent for the Crouse Irving Memorial Physicians Office Building.

Although Sutton is no longer a family business, we behave as one, and Joanne is one of the fun siblings we will miss tremendously. Joanne is not only a respected employee, but a trusted friend. While everyone at Sutton will miss her, we are hopeful she will find the same success in retirement that she experienced during her time here. We wish her the best in her new home in South Carolina.