The Ulysses Town Planning Board gave site plan approval for a new Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services 25-bed residential building at a meeting of the Planning Board Dec. 17 at Ulysses Town Hall, where no members of the public showed up to voice any conners about the project.
Two representatives from CARS attended the meeting and made brief comments toward the end, but for the most part the meeting consisted of a presentation from the project’s architect.
The 9,270 square-foot facility, located at 6621 Route 227 in Ulysses, will sit adjacent to the existing building. The CARS property is comprised of two adjacent lots, one in Ulysses and one in neighboring Hector, which is in Schuyler County.
The Ulysses Planning Board already conducted a coordinated review of the State Environmental Quality Act and issued a negative determination of significance on Sept. 3. A variance was issued by the Ulysses Board of Zoning Appeals on Oct. 30 to allow for the building to cover more square footage of the entire property than is normally allowed by Town zoning laws.
Approval of the site plan was given on the condition that CARS follow through with the execution of a final water agreement contract with the Town of Ulysses and approval of the stormwater pollution prevention plan by the Ulysses stormwater management officer.
Approval of the site plan will automatically lapse and expire in 18 months if the applicant fails to obtain a building permit or fails to comply with the conditions of the site plan approval.
Another condition imposed by the Planning Board: the landscaping plan must be revised to utilize native species.
The additional building meets all of the commercial fire standards for a project of its size, said Philip DiNicola, principal at Fontanese Folts Aubrecht Ernst, the architecture firm (based in Orchard Park) designing the new facility and grounds.
There were a few ways in which the plan differed from the draft the architects showed the board the last time the two entities met. One of the biggest differences was the addition of a 500-year flood plan. The architects’ designs include multiple catch basins that will collect water from the parking lots and the runoff from the buildings. The water will flow to vegetative sites that will absorb and/or hold the runoff.
“We effectively went over and beyond—well beyond, actually—the code minimum,” said DiNicola.
“Thanks to the BZA for doing a thorough job,” said Planning Board Member Rebecca Schneider, “and for making sure things were addressed.” She said she is happy that a 500-year flood plan was developed. “I’m pleased that’s taken care of,” she said.
She said she is also glad that the BZA came up with an agreement with CARS that includes the protection of CARS open land in Hector. As a provision of its approval, the BZA required that CARS agree to obtain written consent from the Town of Ulysses if it intends to apply for any right to build any improvement or structure on the Hector portion of land.
The renderings showed to the board also include plantings. “We are trying to use native trees that go around the building,” DiNicola said. Many of the site’s existing trees, which includes a large number of Austrian pines, will be worked into the landscaping. They even help inform the colors the architects chose for the facade.
“We’re playing off of it,” DiNicola said. “The Australian pine in winter, when the needles are dying (if you want to call it that) and falling off, are golden, then green in the spring, so we’re using those colors, then natural stone.”
The vegetative retaining ponds will consist largely of native grasses.
Other landscaping elements included burning bush, which is considered invasive, so the architect has agreed to take it out of the plan in favor or native species instead.
The lighting meets “dark sky standards,” DiNicola said, and care was taken to avoid shining light into neighboring properties.
The building is also energy efficient, according to the architect. “We’re going to be about 20 percent better than code in terms of energy,” DiNicola said. “It’s heavily insulated.”
Schneider said she was not as happy about the septic system presentation as she was about most parts of the most-recently updated plan. “We have no purview over that,” said John Zepko, environmental planner for the Town of Ulysses. “That falls under the DEC [New York Department of Environmental Concervation] purview.” Zepko also pointed out that the septic design has not changed since the planning board gave the expansion a negative NY State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) declaration, meaning the board determined that project would not have a significant adverse impact on the environment.
Zepko said the DEC requires an annual septic inspection.
Dale Johnson, president of the CARS Board of Directors, and David Williams, CARS compliance and quality improvement director, said they feel confident that the community is comfortable with the expansion.
“There were some concerns brought to our attention—issues like if emergency services had to show up, what kind of communication can the community rely upon?” said Williams. “If police respond to something, they are in charge of communication to the surrounding community if necessary, but the fact is there are not that many…walk offs in the area, and even when they do appear they don’t require emergency services in any way shape or form.”
The board voted unanimously in favor of giving site plan approval, and according to DiNicola construction is due to begin at the end of March or beginning at April.