Proposed Huth Road development sparks wetlands debate

Sat, March 12, 2022 7:00 AM

By Alice Gerard

The Grand Island Town Board of Directors voted at their March 7 meeting to grant preliminary plan approval and to issue a negative statement for an SEQR review at the 17-lot Sandywood Circle Subdivision, located on Huth Road, east of Autumnwood Drive. This approval follows a lively discussion about wetlands and other matters near the proposed subdivision between members of the public, the developer’s engineer and council at the public hearing on the proposed project. This was one of two public hearings for the proposed subdivisions.

Jeri Kackmann said there were wetlands behind her home on Autumnwood Drive, close to where the proposed development would be built.

Matt Zarbo, the design engineer for the Sandywood Circle Subdivision, explained the process that determined that there are no jurisdictional wetlands within the parcel of land for which the subdivision is planned. “The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is on site with our wetland delineator and across the parcel it has been determined that there are no jurisdictional wetlands. We have no obligation avoid wet areas on the plot.

Monique Corrao said: “We argued years ago when they wanted to put a cell tower in this area. We were told it was wetlands, and that’s what saved us from having a cell tower there.

“The developer had a US Army Corps of Engineers wetland delineation made and reviewed,” supervisor John Whitney said. “They found that there are no jurisdictional wetlands. Two agencies have jurisdiction over wetlands. One is the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. There are no DEC wetlands on site. The other is the US Army Corps of Engineers. Anyone proposing to develop a project must have an independent delineation carried out by a certified wildlife biologist. This has been done, and this has been reviewed by the US Army Corps of Engineers and agreed that there are no wetlands on the site over which the corps has jurisdiction. In other words, if there is a low point that happens to be a vernal pool or something of that nature, it can be filled without any penalty to the body.

Another issue that was raised during the public hearing was the drainage and capacity of the sewer system. One speaker, Gary Groat, commented: “My…concern is that with heavy rain the system on Huth Road cannot handle the amount of rubbish that goes in. If you were to ask most people on my street, their basements have sewer shut-off valves. Many people have seen raw sewage back up into their homes because we cannot maintain the flow that is already in the system. Add more houses on Huth Road? Will our sewer system be able to handle the additional flow that is coming? I need to have these answers because this is a very big concern. I have two small children. I don’t want raw sewage in my house.

Connectivity was another issue that came up during the public hearing. President Robbyn Drake asked if the proposed development would provide access to the library from the Sandy Beach neighborhood. “I have a young daughter and we are interested in connectivity with this parcel. So I was just wondering, and noticed that the southern boundary of this parcel is municipal land, and it is adjacent to the park veterans and library complex I was wondering if we start thinking no matter what happens here to make sure there is an access or our last potential access point from Sandy Beach to the library.

Councilor Tom Digati responded, “In terms of trails and connectivity, for the past two years and since I’ve been on the board, it’s something we’ve tried to build into every project that we is present ; and I know Councilor Pete Marston has already looked at this one and seen exactly what you said and talked about possibly connecting it to the library.

The second public hearing was for a proposed minor development on Whitehaven Road, west of Alvin Road. This proposed three-lot subdivision was described by Kristin Savard, owner and president of Advanced Design Group, who said, “Our company represents the Panepinto family with the subdivision. It is a very simple three-lot subdivision (on Whitehaven Road, west of Alvin Road). Two of the lots are over three acres. Lot #1, which is closer to the intersection with Alvin, is just under three acres, but we received a zoning waiver for it. The house that is there – the old house that is on the corner – it is Mr. Panepinto’s intention to restore this house. He has been restoring this home for about two months now for either residential or non-profit end use.

Savard said Advanced Design Group had also sought final approval of the platform, commenting that unless “there is something we need to address further or if there are public comments of concern that we need to look at,” she would ask the board to take the two preliminary courses “and go straight to the final course.”

Apart from Savard, there were no speakers at this public hearing. During the meeting, the City Council granted the project Preliminary Dish Approval, Final Dish Approval, and a negative declaration for an SEQR review.

Additionally, at the meeting, the city council discussed the introduction of Local Law No. 6 of 2021, which would allow the rezoning of a group of plots of R-3 (multi-family residential area), R-1D (medium-density single-family residential area) and CBD (central business district) to a planned district development (PDD). Council members voted to order the city attorney to write a letter to the developer asking for more details and to set up a shop meeting.

“I like where this project is going. The question now is whether the amenities are sufficient in the incentive zoning process that goes along with it. It’s not a ton of incentives but, looking at the amenities, I don’t know how many of them are more than design choices,” Digati said, noting that the proposal fits well into the master plan. from the city. “But every project should do that. That’s why we have a master plan.

He says he likes the proposed trails but questions their connectivity. “Given the location of this particular project, it seems to me that these trails, while they may be accessible to the public, will primarily be used by the people on them, as the rest of us are expected to get to the complex by car. , park and walk around.

Councilor Mike Madigan said: ‘I think we need more detail on the benefits of these particular features, in terms of access to the pond and some of the other public access amenities that are basically on offer here. On closer inspection, I don’t think it meets the threshold we’re looking for when it comes to incentive zoning. I think we need to discuss this further with the candidate developer. »

Councilor Pete Marson said: ‘Talking about pedestrian connectivity is very important as we have just approved sidewalks on the other side. We have pretty much new sidewalks on the Grand Island Boulevard side. They showed me some concepts. I like it. From what I can see, I like it. We are all heading in the right direction here. But I think we still have work to do. »

Rivertown Project attorney Kim Nason, along with Phillips Lytle, responded to the board’s vote. “We appreciate your feedback tonight. We look forward to moving forward with your letter, with the meeting. We heard significant positive feedback from neighbors during the public hearing in January. Everyone commented on the extensive work this developer has done with the community in terms of integrating feedback, trying to answer all questions.

She asked that the letter and meeting be scheduled “as soon as possible because we’ve been working on this for a while, and that’s the initial concept plan.” She also requested that “if the board has any comments or feedback on the documentation that has been submitted to date, particularly in relation to the SEQR process, that you let us know so that we can expedite as much as possible and provide what the board needs.”

In other business, the city council voted to approve the appointments of Sarah Voak as full-time senior accounts typist and Cathy Moore as part-time recreation attendant-kitchen helper for the Golden Age Center; and to accept with regret and a certificate of appreciation the resignation of Christine Ryan from her employment at the Golden Age Center. The board also voted to approve the promotion of Tim Burns to Senior Wastewater Operator within the Wastewater Department.

Sara H. Byrd