Lakeview rendering side

The current plan for the 60-unit Lakeview Mental Health Services housing project on Court Street.

Tuesday night's Planning Board meeting was a gauntlet, but an undeniably productive one. 

Two projects received their final approvals, a Lakeview Health Services building on Court Street and a controversial duplex on 217 Columbia Street, while several more continued through the early stages of the development approval process. 

Lakeview has not undergone any significant changes to the body of the project; it's still 60 units of housing to serve a mixed population of lower-income and those with mental health difficulties. Some concerns had arisen earlier in the process, which mainly focused on the building's size and its fit in the neighborhood, but also about the building's population and possibly at-risk patients being so close to a busy traffic route. None of these concerns were reasserted at the meeting, however, and the building was unanimously approved. It will be a while before any visible progress is made, however: Trowbridge Wolf Michaels, the architects working on the project, said construction would not begin until the second half of 2018, if the funding all comes through as anticipated. 

The duplex project at 217 Columbia Street was also approved, the final step in a long debate that's been covered several times before and won't be rehashed here. Basically, the project's architects made some tweaks to the proposed structure, making it wider and rearranging the rooms, based on the Planning Board's suggestions last month to make the house more attractive to working professionals and families. Though some South Hill residents were in attendance, presumably to speak out in opposition to the final approval, but none spoke up during the public comment period. It will not be impacted by the South Hill Overlay Zoning District that was recently proposed to limit new primary structure development on property that already has a primary structure on it, to stem in-fill development in the neighborhood for the time being. 

That was the end of the approvals, here are some blurbs on the meeting's other happenings including an update on The Nines, new planning guidelines for Collegetown and Downtown, and an INHS project on Elm Street. 

- The future of The Nines location on College Avenue was also discussed, with several residents of the area arguing against the proposed development project itself, or trying to save the building for historic preservation reasons. Board member John Schroeder was particularly concerned that demolition at the site would separate Collegetown from its historical roots entirely. JoAnn Cornish acknowledged public sentiment mourning the loss of The Nines restaurant, but noted that because the project is allowed by the zoning regulations, the Planning Board would be limited to reviewing the building's design. Additionally, Cornish and the Board stated to Fox that in order to get the project approved, he will most likely need to conduct a feasibility study about the possibility of moving the original No. 9 fire station located behind The Nines. 

- There was some resistance to a 13-unit apartment building on Elm Street proposed by Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services, from residents whose homes would be affected by the building and argued that the current strucutres on the potentially replaced properties would be better suited for rehabilitation than entire demolition. The proposal includes a six-spot parking lot. 

- New planning guidelines were published for Collegetown and Downtown presented by Senior Planner Megan Wilson. They were recommended for approval by the Board and sent on to the Common Council for its October meeting, where they will either be approved or perhaps sent back to the Board for more tinkering. 

Follow Matt Butler on Twitter @AllegedButler

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