July 23, 2004

Town Board has five public hearings

At last night's Town Board meeting, the board heard five different public hearings, as well as two points of citizen's privilege. (The Recreation Partnership discussion was apparently postponed.)

The first hearing was on an application by Andrew and Elaine Morenus for a special permit to operate a home appliance and furniture rental business, Home Necessities, at 234 Johnson Road (map). Andrew Morenus described the facility as a distribution hub for their five stores, as well as a headquarters. Truck traffic, which came up as an issue throughout the meeting, would be minimal. The county disapproved of the application, finding that the use didn't meet the definition of a material yard, but Zoning Officer Henry Slater felt it did fit, and cited an application for much more intensive use by United Asphalt on the same property a few years ago that the county had approved. County disapproval meant that the board would need at least four votes to approve the permit. After the public hearings were closed, the board approved this permit 5-0.

The second hearing was also for a special use permit, for Raymond Oliver and William Tripp's application to put a mulch and coal storage yard at 215 Groton Road (map). The business would be on a former gas station. All the tanks and toxins have been removed from the soil, but people have been using it as a dump for a while. There were a lot of questions about the maps provided, and about empty storage containers that would apparently have been stored there for Oliver's "You call it, we haul it" refuse removal business. It wasn't clear that Oliver would actually be an applicant. After the hearings, the board voted to continue this hearing to a future meeting to get these questions answered.

The third hearing was a site plan review for Ralph Crandall's proposal for a self-storage facility at 1410 Dryden Road (map). Crandall currently operates Locke Woods Interiors and a car dealership on an adjoining site. There was a lot of concern about the possibility of garage sales on the site, which Crandall was willing to drop, but in the end the board continued the hearing to find out more about the proposed design of the building.

The hearing which drew the largest audience was definitely the special use permit hearing for Ithaca Produce's proposed move to 226 Johnson Road (map) from 2025 Dryden Road (map). The move is both an expansion and an effort to put the business and its truck traffic far away from neighbors.

Richard Cutia talks to the board
Richard Cutia, Jr., discusses truck traffic with the Town Board

Residents of Johnson Road as well as Freeville's Mayor and Chair of the Planning Board were there to ask questions about the project, particularly its traffic impacts. Ithaca Produce's expectation is that nearly all of its truck traffic, with the exception of a delivery truck going to Freeville Elementary School, will go to 13, and accepted that as a stipulation. There were also some concerns about appearance, though the building will be 500 feet from the road. Ithaca Produce agreed to landscape that screens the building from the road. A neighbor across the street provided a letter supporting the project, and the board later passed the approval for the project.

The last set of public hearings addressed the creation of the Royal Road Water and Sewer Districts. Although no one appeared in person to oppose the project, Supervisor Trumbull read a letter from Ithaca Self-Storage's owners into the record complaining of the "disproportionate burden" they would have to pay on a district whose services they don't presently plan to use. In the end, the board approved the district, subject to permissive referendum.

Supervisor Trumbull reads a letter into the record
Supervisor Trumbull reads a letter from Ithaca Self-Storage into the record

There was also a question about connection fees for F & T Distributing, as the formula for out-of-district users would likely require them to pay more than $10,000 up front for water service they were using only until the Royal Road districts began operation. As F & T is already a user of the Monkey Run district at its current location, the board waived this fee.

At the end of the meeting, Councilman Michaels asked that the board have more complete SEQR and resolution proposals from the town staff to speed up the process of these approvals.

In addition to the public hearings and decisions about them, there were two points of citizens' privilege. Gilbert and Irma Levine of Brooktondale Road asked for a light post at the intersection of Route 79 and Brooktondale Road (map). County Legislator Martha Roberston noted that she had talked with Caroline Town Supervisor Don Barber about this, as Caroline was putting a lighting district in the area. Town Attorney Mahlon Perkins interrupted and said not to bring Don Barber into the discussion, urging that adding a light be done directly by the Highway Department. Supervisor Trumbull asked the Levines to return at a later meeting when the Highway Superintendent would be present.

Finally, Conservation Board Chair Craig Schutt talked to the board about the Conservation Board's discussions with the Planning Board and the agricultural community about the Draft Comprehensive Plan. Building on discussion from an earlier Planning Board meeting, Schutt suggested forming a group of the boards and agriculture community members to come up with language all sides could agree on for the Comprehensive Plan, and then continue to work toward implementation suggestions. Schutt invited the Town Board members to participate as well, and they seemed amenable to the idea.

Posted by simon at July 23, 2004 12:47 PM in , , , ,
Note on photos