July 2, 2010

Planning Board Minutes Relevant to the Varna II Proposal

I mentioned earlier that I really like having public meeting minutes available on the town website. Among those minutes are Planning Board minutes.

Much as I like having minutes available, sometimes it's easier to gather pieces about one subject into one place. If you're interested, I've pulled the relevant sections - complete sections, no editing - from the Planning Board minutes that talk about the proposed Varna II development.

TOWN OF DRYDEN Planning Board
February 18, 2010

Members Present: Joseph Lalley, Chair; David Weinstein; Joseph Laquatra, Jr.; Megan Whitman; Tom Hatfield, Wendy Martin; Martin Hatch.

Staff and Elected Officials Present: Mary Ann Sumner, Town Supervisor and Planning Board Liaison; Dan Kwasnowski, Environmental Planner; Patty Millard, Recording Secretary;

Others Present: Larry Fabbroni, Stephen Lucente, Tony Busse, Simon St. Laurent, James Skaley.

J Lalley opened the meeting at 7:02 pm.

On a motion made by Joseph Laquatra and seconded by Wendy Martin, the minutes of the January meeting were approved with the changes sent to P Millard.

L Fabbroni introduced Stephen Lucente and Tony Busse who are working on the Varna II project with him. A map was given to the Planning Board members. L Fabbroni described the project as follows: Initially it was designed as a rental project, but has been changed to be a homeowner project. There is a need for housing for the many Cornell employees that commute from Elmira and Cortland every day. This causes a lot of traffic through Dryden. Closer housing will help to alleviate this. The idea is to tie in to the nodal housing concept the County has planned to help revitalize this area. This area has all of the infrastructure and amenities needed to be successful. A brief outline of the project as now proposed was given to the Planning Board members. They would like to build a sustainable, affordable community with easy access to work and services. They could easily tie in to existing bike and pedestrian paths. To minimize surface parking and impervious areas, many units will have garages underneath them.

Feedback was solicited from the Planning Board. D Weinstein quoted the Comprehensive Plan asking for limits of no more than 20 units being added to a hamlet area at any one time. He brought up possible limits on the existing sewer infrastructure that may hinder this project. L Fabbroni mentioned that TG Miller stated the existing infrastructure would work if they made sure to run some of the flow to the other side of the road.

T Hatfield asked how many total units? 260 plus 30,000 square feet of commercial. What is the time frame? 10 years. That breaks down to 26 units per year if built over 10 years. T Hatfield stated that as a Planning Board, we asked to be able to see units for the entire life of the project . Since the project is projected over 10 years, this does not seem to exceed what the Comprehensive Plan had in mind. Our job is to make sure these presentations fit within a certain criteria and to represent the entire community and let market forces take care of the rest. There is a need.

W Martin asked about how the extra traffic would affect the existing traffic patterns in the area. L Fabbroni does have some information on that. There would be an increase and with appropriate bus shelters and turning lanes, it can work.

Chair Lalley reminded everyone that this is not a public hearing or even a sketch plan, but just to get an initial conversation started.

J Laquatra asked how many phases they were suggesting. L Fabrroni thought 3 phases with commercial not coming in until the second phase.

J Lalley asked about the fact that there might be 2 community centers with this project. We would have to flush that out. What about the lot on the opposite side of the street? Could it be used as a park and ride? If we aren't able to work out all of the drainage and retention issues on this side of the road, that piece of property may be used to comply with those regulations.

The Planning Board also stated that items such as whether a stop light would end up being needed and leaving some open space in the design are things they will need to see as well.

J Laquatra - with this many people walking there would need to be sidewalks in the area as well. L Fabbroni said that is planned as well. There aren't any now.

Comments were elicited from the public. Those present asked about fire truck access and mentioned the lower speed limit that was just approved and how that would affect traffic. Would like to get feedback from more longer-term residents and wonder if this would help that. Would they be town roads? No. They would be owned by the home owners' association that would be set up in conjunction with the project.

M Hatch asked about the elevation level and slope there. There is a retaining wall set up in the project to handle the change in topography.

March 18, 2010
Public Review process by the Planning Board

Chair Lalley asked everyone to keep in mind that reviews done at the Planning Board are done with an open mind. There are rules set for us to follow in the zoning ordinance and development guidelines as well as the comprehensive plan. The plan proposed for Varna could be a positive thing for Cornell, the residents of Varna, and the developer. Regardless of whether this project gets approved or not, all projects that come in front of the Planning Board need to be given review in the context of the rules we have.

April 22, 2010
Varna Hamlet

There is interest on the part of Cornell, Lucente, Varna residents and the Town, to sit down and have a conversation about what can be done to help Varna. There is a Varna Community and Commercial Revitalization Plan. Jim Skaley prepared this document and it was passed by The Varna Community Association. It became part of a proposal that was sent in for a Revitalization Grant for the Varna Hamlet area. The document was available to Planning Board members who wished it in hard copy along with a memo summarizing a meeting D Weinstein had with Varna community members today. He will forward the documents electronically to all members. A Hamlet master plan has been suggested as a possible avenue. There may be enough interested parties to fund this work which is estimated to cost $50,000. J Lalley will work on pulling together a meeting within the next 3-4 weeks. Hopefully the timeline can be such that it can be put together in time to be coordinated with the zoning update.

May 20, 2010

J Lalley is still working on putting together a meeting with all interested parties. It did not happen this past month, but is still on his list and a letter will be going out soon inviting all those mentioned last month.

D Weinstein handed out a map. The Varna community has already started doing some preliminary planning starting with the document they handed out to the Planning Board last month.

Posted by simon at July 2, 2010 5:11 PM in , ,
Note on photos