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Lighthouse Pointe opponents criticize board

•Taken from Dec. 19 Island Dispatch

Tue, Dec 23rd 2014 07:05 am

by Larry Austin

With the Grand Island Town Board's public hearing on the Lighthouse Pointe preliminary plat still open, residents spoke out again in opposition to the proposed development during Monday's regular board meeting.

Monday's meeting began where the public hearing Dec. 1 left off. The project by applicant Anthony Cutaia is located at the intersection of Whitehaven Road and East River Road and calls for six-unit buildings totaling 246 townhouses in a parcel zoned R2. The town's Planning Board voted unanimously Nov. 10 to recommend approval of the preliminary plat.

Paul Koppmann of Timberlink Drive thanked the board for an opportunity to speak again on the topic. The Dec. 1 public hearing on Lighthouse Pointe drew more than 150 residents.

"Based on last board meeting, you can understand the gravity and the concern to not only the residents who border on this development, but also the concern of many, many at that meeting throughout the Island," Koppmann said.

Opponents have called the project "townhouse-like apartments" (see page 5 for an editorial) and claim it violates the town's master plan. Koppmann said interpretation of the master plan should be left up to the board, not the developer.

"When you describe a six-unit attached building that people are renting, we all know what the customary meaning of that building is, and that's 'apartment,' and truthfully, that does not fit in the R2 zoning," Koppmann said.

Vincent Pantano of Timberlink Drive, a neighboring subdivision to the proposed project, said 20 years ago he purchased a parcel and built his home knowing another development could go in behind his property.

"We always assumed it would be another developer who would come in an put up single homes privately owned, not a commercial venture," he said.

He asked the board "to preserve the beauty and dignity of our Island."

Residents criticized the board for its reticence regarding the project.

"You have an obligation to the people of Grand Island to talk to us publicly," said Bob Marinucci of White Oak Terrace. "But my concern is that you, our representatives, are not willing -- and I'm using that word strongly -- are not willing and maybe able to meet with us publicly and voice an opinion. Let us know where you sit."

He told council members, "You're walking away from your obligations."

"What's concerning the residents is numerous times we are hearing comments from family and friends of board members on what the board thinks should be done and the term 'This is a done deal' comes up very often," Joe LaLonde said.

Sean Hopkins of Hopkins and Sorgi, attorney for the developer, rejected the claim that the board, in rendering a decision on the preliminary plat, would have to choose between the residents and the developer.

"Your obligation, as you know, is to consider whether or not a layout complies with the code, which we think quite clearly it does," Hopkins told the board.

No action was taken by the board and the public hearing remained open.

Hotel eyed for boulevard

The board gave C&B International site plan approval to convert a building at 2710 Grand Island Blvd. to a hotel.

"This project matches the zone, which is North Business District," Cooke said, adding the building is the intended home base of a bus tour company. The site was formerly a medical building and was most recently used as a yoga studio.

According to the minutes of the Dec. 8 Planning Board meeting, C&B International Ltd. plans to convert the building into an 84-room hotel. The plans call for the construction of two additional floors and retention of the existing walls brick and block. A proposed second phase would add a 50-foot expansion for a tea room. A window waterfall tower would be created three stories (38 feet) high, flowing into a pond. A canopy would provide covered drop-off for the expected customers coming on tour buses.

The Planning Board voted to recommend site plan approval.

In other action at the meeting:

•No one from the public spoke during a public hearing regarding the 2015 sewer rents in the Consolidated Sanitary Sewer District. The rate is set at $5.20 per 1,000 gallons of water.

•At its Dec. 3 workshop meeting, the Grand Island Town Board appointed Dave Lyons to the Planning Board to fill the unexpired term of Planning Board Chairman Frank Sturniolo ending Dec. 31. The board appointed Robert Starzynski as chairman for the same time period. In a memo from Mary Cooke to the Town Board, Sturniolo is resigning "due to a change in job responsibilities that precluded attendance at the meetings."

•Republic Services has requested two changes to its Island trash and recycling pickup routes. Homes on Majestic Woods Drive would have their pickup changed from Wednesday to Thursday, and residents in New England Village would have their pickup changed from Thursday to Friday.

•Upon the recommendation of Town Engineer John Whitney, the board awarded Lenzner Painting a job to paint nine exterior parking lot light poles at the Grand Island Memorial Library on Bedell Road at a cost of $2,950.

•The board approved renewal of a special use permit for Peter L. Sparks for a commercial riding stable/farm at 2630 Bedell Road.

•Cooke said the 2015 reorganization meeting will be Jan. 5 in the Town Board courtroom.

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