South Hill Housing

The Town of Ithaca will have a public hearing on May 9 for a proposed 270-day moratorium on building two-unit properties in areas with abundant student housing, whether they are new construction or additions to an existing one-family house. 

The proposed law’s language states its purpose is to deal with the intensification of student pressure on rental units in the town, on both East and South hills. Planners, it says, have determined that the original purpose of the two-unit allowance was for owner-occupiers to provide private living space for relatives. 

On April 11, the town council had a hearing on a similar law, except that the proposed moratorium was for one full year. One comment they received at that meeting repeatedly was that a one-year ban, imposed in the spring, would essentially eliminate two whole construction seasons for anyone considering such a project. 

Several commenters also expressed the opinion that a moratorium for the whole town was too blunt an instrument, if the intent was only to study the student-heavy neighborhoods on South Hill along Coddington Road and Pennsylvania Avenue. 

Larry Fabbroni said, “that whole neighborhood was a ramshackle slum” before the Iacovelli family built housing in the 1980s. Much of the area is owned by that family or Ron Ronsvalle of Heritage Builders. 

Over several years of correspondence, Fabbroni, an architect, has encouraged the town to look at the Ohio example of the University of Dayton “student ghetto,” with school-managed properties that have an off-campus housing feel. 

“You’re saying that one year doesn’t make any difference,” Orlando Iacovelli told the board. “I’m 76 years old. One year makes a lot of difference to me.” 

In response to the public comment, board member Rich DePaulo said people were “misunderstanding our intention” with the moratorium.

“There’s an issue here that has been identified for a long time and never addressed,” DePaulo said. 

The public hearing will be held at 5:30 p.m. on May 9, at the Ithaca Town Hall, 215 N. Tioga St. •

 

(1) comment

Ronny Hardaway

Will this potential moratorium period also address the egregious lack of affordable housing within the Ithaca area?

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