ITHACA—Town of Ithaca Planning Board is delaying its consideration of a preliminary site plan approval for the somewhat controversial Greenways townhouse project off Sunnyhill Lane and Strawberry Hill Road due to a public notice technicality. The board originally anticipated to vote on site plan approval during its Tuesday, July 1 public meeting, but will now take such action during its Tuesday, July 15 meeting—after a few changes to its next agenda.
“The question that came up,” Town Planner Sue Ritter explained, “is whether the Greenways project is a site plan, a subdivision, or a site plan and a subdivision. There was some confusion among several of us over the last week or so. And so, the public hearing announcement was being requested under a site plan. But as it turns out, there is a subdivision element of this too. And at one point, we felt like we shouldn’t say both site plan and subdivision, and it seemed it like it was just a subdivision review instead. But as we studied the regulations, we have determined that this is in fact a site plan and a subdivision. But because we did not advertise it as such, we will not be giving any approvals tonight.”
The Greenways project proposal is zoned for Medium Density Residential (MDR) and Multiple Residence Zones (MR). The proposal includes the development of 46 townhouse units west of Eastwood Commons, along with fronting woonerf-style roads that will connect Sunnyhill Lane and Strawberry Hill Road. These are part of subdivision off of Honness Lane. Two years after the Town of Ithaca shot down Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services’ (INHS) proposal for 67 residential units at Strawberry Hill Circle, the non-profit community-development corporation is pitching a scaled-back version of the same project in the same location. INHS Director for Real Estate Development Scott Reynolds, along with Peter Trowbridge of Trowbridge Wolf Michaels Landscape Architects, discussed the initial sketch plan for the proposed “Greenways project” at a town planning board meeting Tuesday, May 20, and presented the latest renderings once again on July 1, this time being joined by the project’s architect, Claudia Brenner.
According to the project’s site plan, the woonerf-style roads in the proposal are usually found in residential areas “where motorists and other users share the street without boundaries such as lanes and curbs.” Woonerf can be translated from Dutch to “residential yard,” which reflects the road style’s popularity in the Netherlands. In this style of road, people on bikes and on foot have access to the whole street, not just the shoulders and sidewalks. The proposal also includes new parking areas, open space, recreation areas, trials, walkways, landscaping, outdoor lighting and stormwater facilities. The land is currently owned by Cornell University, which is looking for the land to be developed for worker-based housing. In exchange for “below-market price in land,” Cornell is requesting right of first refusal when the units come up for sale.