The Town of Lansing Planning Board unanimously voted to grant Village Solar, LLC’s request for a waiver from the Planned Development Area (PDA) for the Village Solar project at a meeting on Feb. 24.
Village Solar specifically requested a waiver for a building permit for constructing the buildings on 117 Village Circle before the completion of the community center.
“The reasoning for it is—there’s a couple of big ones—the bigger one is that we need to be able to build two buildings at a time in order to keep our workers going full-year round,” Rocco Lucente of Village Solar said.
Lucente said there are approximately 54 employees of full-time equivalence working on the site who are tasked with constructing two buildings per year, and in order to complete the workload amount another permit is needed.
“I think that it’s worth the board our rendering and considering that, though we are requesting a waiver, there is going to be no change in the building plan if the waiver is passed in terms of the schedule and which buildings will be delivered,” Lucente said. “The only difference that would be made is we would be allowed to start one of the buildings prior to the completion of the other buildings.”
He also reiterated the company’s point in that they still plan on completing the construction of the community center.
“Though if we did not complete the other building, that building being the community center, then we would still be subject to not getting our Certificate of Occupancy on building 117 [Village Circle],” he said. “The Town retains all leverage that it has in terms of incentive to have us build the center, which we, again, we are planning on very much doing it and are very excited about doing.”
With the waiver, Village Solar plans on building both the community center and the buildings on 117 Village Circle at the same time. The company will not receive a Certificate of Occupancy for 117 Village Circle until the community center is complete and has a Certificate of Occupancy of its own. The previous plan was to have the community center complete with a Certificate of Occupancy before a building permit would be issued for 117 Village Circle.
Prior to passing the resolution, some members of the board did express some apprehensions about the waiver, specifically if it would impact the timeline of when community center will be built.
“I don’t speak for the board, but I think the concern is let’s get the community center built now, next,” Planning Board member Al Fiorelle said. “That’s what we want. How we structure that is whatever, but that’s what the board wants.”
According to Lynn Day, the town’s Code/Fire Enforcement Officer and Building Inspector, Village Solar has yet to apply for a building permit for the community center. Village Solar project engineer Lawrence Fabbroni said the application is “currently under design,” and explained why no building permit has been submitted yet, citing the clamour regarding a campaign donation made by Stephen Lucente to the Lansing Republican Committee when Town Supervisor and Republican Edward LaVigne was running for reelection. (The donation was made around the time Fabbroni issued a request to the town to delay the community center construction in hopes of building a larger building than what was originally planned.)
“We were in here back in August with the idea that we were going to negotiate for the bounds of the PDA and be able to build a bigger community building,” Fabbroni said. “That’s not going to happen for a lot of reasons. There was a lot of misinformation put out beyond us that made it impossible for us to complete that negotiation in the timetable we had projected. We had no role in that, I want to say. It was pretty nasty. So we had no choice [but] to try and satisfy your objective, which is to have community building built in the shortest period of time. We had to go back to designing the original facility in a location that you first approved it.”
Following the lengthy discussion, approved the waiver request under the conditions that building permits for the other parcels involved in the project—2 and 22 Village Circle— be issued after to the community center is completed and has its Certificate of Occupancy and before 117 Village Circle receives its Certificate of Occupancy.