Sharing letter to Planning and Village boards from a resident

Jim Mason sent this letter to the Planning and Village boards and allowed me to share here.

This is an opinion/letter. If you’re interested in posting one, email it to nancy_tubbs@fullcalendar.com

Rick Geiger, Chair
Trumansburg Village Planning Board
56 East Main Street
Trumansburg, NY 14886

RE: Hamilton Square Project – 46 South Street

Dear Rick:

I believe that the revised plat plan proposal submitted to the Village Planning Board at their working meeting October 12 is a substantial improvement over previous submittals.

The latest proposal does however still contain several important issues that I feel have not been adequately addressed. Among these are:

1) Is designating a substantial portion of the roads within the project as “private” simply a pretext to avoid compliance with the Village Zoning Ordinance and Subdivision Regulations in regards to set back distances for the proposed structures and the regulations (Section 112.6) regarding street construction specifications? This is of particular concern in the latest plat version that provides for a “private” road to South Street. As the plan stands now, the street’s right-of-way would appear to impinge upon existing property lines of homes on South Street. In addition, if the proposal to divert all traffic to the Pennsylvania Avenue side of the project is adopted, does that not negate the results of the “traffic study” that was recently submitted to the Planning Board?

2) If a street is “private,” who would be responsible for maintaining water and sewer lines, fire hydrants and storm sewers?

3) The proposed subdivision plans call for managing storm water runoff (and snowmelt) from the streets, parking lots, driveways and rooftops by collecting it in “stormwater management systems”. These so called “systems” are simply low-lying ponding areas. I doubt that the project designers took note of the fact that there are nearly 20 ponds within little more than a half mile of the proposed development and that they are filled to capacity with naturally occurring ground water year round! In addition, some of the proposed systems are located within a few feet of designated wetland areas. In other words – in soils that are already saturated!

4) By collecting and concentrating runoff from streets and parking lots in grassy areas, what happens to the deicing chemicals and other contaminants in the runoff?

As was recently demonstrated to residents of South Street Extension, ponds constructed in the area very quickly further saturate the soil and send seepage into neighboring basements, lawns and septic fields. Even a moderate rain storm results in the South Street ditches and culverts filling to capacity. I understand that the developers have conducted hydrological surveys of the area, but real life experience of drainage issues in the area tend to suggest contradictory evidence to their conclusions.

Many of us share a real concern that the proposed Hamilton Square project is totally out of scale, not only for the proposed site, but for our Village as a whole. There can be no doubt but that a development of this magnitude will have very serious environmental consequences and that the impacts would not be limited to the boundaries of the development itself, but extend to the neighboring community as well. I hope this will be given serious consideration prior to any approvals the Planning Board renders.

I very much appreciate the diligence and perseverance with which you and the Planing Board have conducted your review of this project, and trust that these concerns can be successfully resolved.

Sincerely,

Jim Mason
Trumansburg, NY 14886
cc: Victoria Romanoff
Hanna Carver
John Ulberg
Jessica Giles

TBNA petition and rebuttal flyer, Oct 14, 2017

Below is text of a petition created and circulated for signatures by Trumansburg Neighbors Association (TBNA), and text from a flyer posted around the village with rebuttal points (no contact info on the flyer). The subject is Hamilton Square.

This post is an attempt to allow the community to address these points from a factual perspective. Hamilton Square is a complex undertaking and there are a lot of different issues. It’s the largest development project in our history, and this process is new to many village residents. Naturally, there are a lot of questions, confusing information, partial answers, assumptions, and unknowns.

There are, of course, differing opinions. Fine with me.

For this post, I’ll allow comments if you’d like to provide more substantive information than is on the petition or rebuttal flyer.  I’ll also allow genuine questions (not sarcasm). Comments will be moderated, but any informative or substantive comment will be allowed. Simple inflammatory ones will not.  If I’m in doubt about a comment, I’ll let it go through with some kind of “borderline” tag, and reserve the right to delete it or fully approve it.

I hope this vehicle can help spread more information that is known, and identify areas where the answers simply aren’t known at this time.

For reference, our 2008 Comprehensive Plan:
http://trumansburg-ny.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/CompPlan.pdf

Original petition in plain text, rebuttal in italics.

Petition Heading:

Petition
To the Village and Planning Boards of Trumansburg, NY
Reject Hamilton Square as Proposed

Sundial Property Development Corporation (Claudia Brenner and Ithaca Neighborhood Housing) has presented a subdivision plan to the Village Planning Board to build 72 units including a 47-unit apartment complex on a parcel of land between South St. and Pennsylvania Ave. This land, currently fields, woods and wetlands, sits directly behind long-time existing residences. Not only will the land and neighborhood character be forever changed, but also many adverse impacts will affect a quality of life that’s been built and cherished in our community over many decades.  The Planning Board has the right and responsibility to require changes that will improve how the proposal meets the Village’s needs and interests.

We, concerned citizens of Trumansburg, implore the Village government to reject the Hamilton Square proposal as currently designed and to proactively consider better options for addressing the development of our village and neighborhoods!

Rebuttal heading:

Have you seen this petition?

Do you know what you are signing?

Do not sign out of ignorance

T-burg residents are better than these inflammatory NIMBY comments. It’s time to work with, not against, INHS to build a stronger, thriving community!

Top Issues
That make Hamilton Square not work as proposed

1. Too many rental units, not home ownership, out of balance and character with the neighborhood

Not everyone needs or wants or can afford to own a home and it is no longer a mark of being a “good American” to do so.

“Out of balance and character with the neighborhood” suggests only wealthy, white people should live here. This statement is hurtful and unwelcoming, racist, and classist.

 

2. Does not fit ‘village character’ and 2008 Village Comprehensive Plan priorities

Fake news! This proposal precisely fits the 2008 Village Comprehensive Plan.

 

3. Does not adequately address single family home needs for seniors and first-time buyers

Opponents of this plan argue that there are too many units being proposed. Village Comprehensive Plan seeks to add more!

Irrational expectations. No one project will address all our housing needs but this project will make a significant impact on our need for affordable housing.

 

4. Too many residents (200+) and cars (150+) overwhelming the existing neighborhood

Inflated numbers. Over the next 10 years this development may reach at most 200 residents with an estimated maximum of 120 cars.

County study says T-burg is well-equipped to handle an increase in residents due to our solid infrastructure.

 

5. Very wet land area will add drainage issues for surrounding area

Utterly false! The developers are not permitted, under NYS law, to worsen drainage issues.

 

6. 18 acres– 92%– land disturbed and bull-dozed w/o regard for natural site conditions

What they aren’t telling you is that the “natural site condition” is an abandoned farm field, bare and uninteresting.

 

7. 4 acres of forest trees and wildlife habitat cut down and reduced to 1/3 acre

This is a necessary step in the process of building homes, including the homes of those who oppose this project.

 

8. Traffic congestion from cars and trucks on undersized streets without sidewalks

This project will add so little traffic that a traffic study is not actually required. Even so, one was done and has showed minimal impact.

 

9. No public recreation space for the Village whose population will grow by 10% or more

Patently false. The proposal shows as much or more green space in the development than in the surrounding neighborhoods. The developers also plan to build a community building and a public playground.

 

10. Increased demands on Village services (fire, police, EMT, schools, water/sewer, roads)

Representatives from Fire, Police, EMS, DPW, and Schools have all said they can handle the increase in residents.

The water and sewage treatment system was updated earlier this year to handle the demand for increased development.

 

11. Not paying enough taxes to cover increased services costs

None of our properties cover our cost of services. Only 35% of Village revenues come from property taxes and asking folks who qualify for affordable housing to pay more is disgusting.

 

12. Added burden on existing residents’ tax bills

There is absolutely no evidence to support this claim. If anything, taxes should stay the same or go down with increased residency.

 

13. The developers did not ask residents how best to fulfill Village needs…they just decided!

This is a piece of private property had been for sale since May 2011. Adjacent property owners could have purchased this lot at any time. In fact, the local developer, who is known for her community-conscious work, purchased the lot for $240,000 in March 2017.

It is not the duty, of the Village to ask neighboring residents to weigh in about private land transactions, nor is it appropriate.

Private developers are not required to seek input and are notorious for ignoring the community. Nonetheless, these developers have held numerous community meetings and listening circles,and have attending Village and Planning Board meetings to make the project better understood as well as listening to residents. They continue to make changes to site plans based on community feedback.

 

Ending statements

Petition:

PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION IF YOU ARE 18 or OLDER

Let our Village Board, Planning Board, and Mayor know that, as proposed, this development is not in the Village of Trumansburg’s best interest.  There are too many unresolved problems and inadequate solutions to allow it to proceed.  Many of these issues are explained in detail on the attached Hamilton Square Facts & Issues Sheet.  Please read through it and become informed on the critical issues so that you may attend Village Board and Planning Board meetings, write letters to the editor and Village Planning Board, and talk with your neighbors and elected and appointed officials in the near future.  If you are on Facebook, please “like” the TBNA page to follow updates and get more information.

ADD YOUR COMMENTS

If you wish, provide comments, on the COMMENT SHEET, to be included with the petition when it is submitted to Village officials.  To ensure we focus constructively on top issues, we suggest that comments avoid concerns that are primarily about “who might live there,” as that’s not a valid reason and won’t sway decision makers.

THANK YOU!

This petition has been created by the Trumansburg Neighbors Alliance (TBNA), a group of citizens acting with the goal of supporting responsible land-use planning and development through public education, citizen engagement, action and collaboration with local government.

Rebuttal:

The current developers have gone above and beyond requirements. We do not want them to back out and sell the land to a corporation that doesn’t care about our community.

Get informed!