Last week the Trumansburg Village Planning Board gave conditional preliminary approval of the subdivision plat and site plan for development of Crescent Way, a residential project proposed for 46 and 50 South Street. About 27 members of the public attended the public hearing Oct. 24, though there was not opportunity for public comment.
Crescent Way is a mix of affordable rental units, affordable for-sale units, and market rate for-sale units.
At the meeting, the resolution giving approval was unanimously voted through by members of the planning board.
Adam Walters, attorney for developer Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services (which is developing the project with architect Claudia Brenner), said one of the changes his clients would likely need to see in order for the project to progress would be to change wording in the resolution so that there is not mention of land within the project being open for “public use.”
In reality it is fine for the public to enjoy the trails and open space on the property, Walters said. “No one will be kicked out for cutting through it,” he said, adding that the land would never be posted with “no trespassing” signs. But when it comes down to the legalities of officially declaring Crescent Way open to the public for recreational use, there were some sticking points.
“It’s a little too much of a specific demarkation,” Walters said. “Saying ‘open to the public’ creates rights for the pubic and issues that I don’t know we’re prepared to deal with.” He added that he is not sure the planning board can legally hold the project back because the developers will not agree to open it up for use by the public.
“Without an act of The Village Board of Trustees…I don’t see it happening, but I think you could adjust the language,” said Guy Krogh, Trumansburg Village attorney.
Ultimately that is what the board ended up doing. The language was altered to remove the word “public” so it now states “The Final Plat shall specifically denote and mark Lot 7 and Lot 12 green spaces and open areas as available to and open to general use and such areas shall be suitably graded and kept relatively level as to promote such use and function recreation.” In the original resolution, the word “public” appeared between “general” and “use.”
Another point of contention was lighting along the development’s paths. In the resolution, preliminary approval was dependent on the applicant agreeing to install lighting along the pathway for Lot 7 of the development. Trumansburg Planning Board Chair Jessica Giles said she thinks it is important to have lighting along that path for safety reasons because it is likely to become a popular shortcut through the development.
Walters said that requiring lighting in that area could potentially derail the entire project. “From our perspective…it’s simply a cost issue,” he said.
“This is one of the most expensive affordable housing project these guys ever worked on,” Walters added. “There is a a lot of street lighting, which is great, and it’s all going to be really gorgeous, well-designed community, but it’s expensive, and this kicks up the cost dramatically.”
Giles argued that solar lights along the pathway would not be very expensive, and the applicant agreed to language in the resolution requiring them to install solar lights where feasible (some areas may not lend themselves to lighting due to the tree canopy, Walters said).
The board agreed to a request by Walters to remove part of the resolution that stated the project would be completed in 24 months.
“I’m not hung up on keeping the 24 months in there because it might take longer…and we recognized in prior board meetings that [construction of the] for-market-rate [units] will happen when they’re sold,” Giles said.
Several other changes to the language of the resolution were agreed upon and approved by the board, and the developers now have 180 days to make those changes in their application and resubmit it to the planning board. The planning board will then need to vote on whether or not to give final approval.