ITHACA—After being tied up in legal matters with Tompkins County for several months, the proposed Cayuga Trails cluster development located on Harris B. Dates Drive near the intersection with Indian Creek Road had its first handling with its next lead agency, the Town of Ithaca Planning Board, on Tuesday, Sept. 2. The applicants, a duo of Better Housing for Tompkins County and NRP Properties, presented a sketch plan for its 58-unit townhouse development on the 25.5 acre property.
The next step will be a formal site plan proposal in the coming months.
While early, it appears the town’s experience with the project will mirror the county’s well-documented ordeal. In October 2013, the sale of the property was authorized to NRP Properties for the project. That same October, West Hill residents Roy A. Luft, Nancy Emerson, Deborah Geier, Joerg Steffen Schuhmann, Virginia Marques, and Daniel Yokum quickly formed the Indian Creek Neighborhood Association (ICNA) and took legal action, accusing the county legislature of breaking state law by selling public land without conducting a study of the environment impacts of the project under New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA). ICNA members, along with others, attended and spoke at Tuesday night’s meeting. While the meeting was not a public hearing matter (yet), residents used the “persons to be heard” segment of the meeting to once again voice concerns of suburban sprawl, lost vegetation, wild life, and traffic—among others—during a three-hour meeting. ICNA also submitted a petition against the project, which included more than 250 signatures.
Though the board gave the applicant suggestions to help it better compose its site plan proposal, criticism and or support for the project from the town will not come before that time.
Editorial Note: A more in-depth version of this article, complete with quotes from the board and residents, will appear in the Sept. 10 issue of the Ithaca Times.