LIBERTY – Members of the Town Board are pushing for following the due processes for the Planned Unit Development (PUD) proposed for the Town of Liberty after it was found to be in compliance …
LIBERTY – Members of the Town Board are pushing for following the due processes for the Planned Unit Development (PUD) proposed for the Town of Liberty after it was found to be in compliance with the Town Code for future consideration, sparking pushback from a number of residents at their meeting on September 18.
In a statement put out by the town, it noted that “in accordance with Town code 147-234 the Town Board has determined that the Applicant’s request for PUD designation complies with the intent of the code.”
It also noted that the section of the Town Code referred to has been in force since 1987 with a few minor changes to its language over the years. One of those changes altered the acreage requirements for small-scale and large-scale PUD’s. Another change added allowable uses to both small-scale and large-scale PUD’s.
The property is located on the intersection of Kelly Bridge Road and State Route 55, encompassing roughly 80 acres of land. The developer is seeking a PUD which would allow up to 180 private homes to be built on the property, as well as a number of public buildings which would include retail stores.
Some dissenters of the project argued that the PUD as described does not fit with the town code’s definition of a PUD or with the Comprehensive Plan. When met with requests to deny the project immediately, board members gave their reasoning on why they are following the due processes.
The board members agreed that the project must follow due process and be given a fair chance, or the town could risk being hit with an Article 78 proceeding at the expense of the tax payer. A handful of dissenters disagreed that that was the case and argued for the town to exercise its right to deny the project immediately as, in their opinion, it does not fit with the zoning or Comprehensive Plan.
Board member Brian McPhillips highlighted that due to the town’s current Zoning, the developer of the property is currently legally allowed to build at most 45 houses on the property without the town’s say-so. In light of that, he said, it would be in the town’s best interest to have further discussions on what all parties are seeking, and offer the town’s guiding hand to ensure any development made on the property might best suit the character and interests of everyone in the town.
Town Supervisor Frank DeMayo and Board Member John Lennon agreed with the sentiment.
The jump from 45 homes to 180 comes from a zoning code that allows a multiplier of 1.35x to the development if 49 percent of the acreage is left as ‘open space.’ Previously, the developer of the project noted that the 130-acre plot of non-contiguous land that is a part of the property would be looked at to be used as a conservative easement, which would assist in achieving that minimum 49 percent.
One of the dissenters and Swan Lake residents, Cora Anne Edwards, brought forth a number of concerns before the board, one of which include the property’s existence as a federally and state protected wetlands. Additionally, Edwards and others expressed concerns of limited public access to the would-be conservative easement.
Other residents, including Michael Edwards and Elizabeth Greig, noted their worry of the precedent the PUD would set. Despite being a 36-year old law, there has never yet been a PUD built in Liberty, according to the town.
Concerns over the future of sewer, water, traffic and the quality of the lake permeated the discussions as well. Calls for various studies were made by the residents, but the town noted that they would not ask a developer to dump thousands of dollars into a project that may or may not even get passed the first stage of planning.
The town also noted that, if the development does move forward, those studies would be looked into. This would include a State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) report.
In addition to the in-person public commenters, the Town noted they had received an additional five letters of correspondence regarding the PUD discussion.
There were talks between the board and members of the public playing around with the idea of meeting with the developers once more to see if there have been any changes to the plans since their application in June of this year. As it stands, according to the board, those original plans are still the ones under the microscope.
It was noted by the Town Board that the meeting was in fact not listed as a Public Hearing meeting on the PUD discussion. Joel Kohn, CEO of JK Expediting Services, clarified that there are most likely going to be at least two or three designated public hearings on the project in the coming future.
The board recessed the meeting without voting on any actions related to the proposed PUD development moving forward in its process.
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