By Joshua Maloni
Village of Lewiston Mayor Terry Collesano and counselor Joseph Leone Jr. objected Tuesday to agenda items asking for approval in principle of preliminary development plans for Ellicott Development's plaza proposal and James Jerge's apartment complex idea. Both said it wasn't the right time to take action.
The Historic Preservation Commission/Planning Board approved a first submission from both project developers on Monday, Feb. 8.
"I don't necessarily think that a motion to approve in principle was an appropriate procedure for the board," Leone told trustees during the board's monthly meeting. "It seems to me that the Planning Board has yet to complete its process. And it also seems to me that there is the environmental issue that has yet to be determined."
Soil test results for Ellicott Development's 4.1-acre parcel of land on Center, North Eighth and Onondaga streets have not yet been provided to the village.
Leone said it was his understanding "there are a variety of area variances that may be needed, and it has yet to go to the Zoning Board of Appeals for approval or disapproval."
For the board to act now, Leone said, would be "a little bit premature."
"I'm with him. I was going to make a point of order of that anyway," Deputy Mayor Bruce Sutherland said.
"I think it would be premature for us to even have a discussion about it, unless there's something particular that you got on your mind that you'd like to bring it up," Collesano said. He pointed out both Planning Board Chairman Norm Machelor and engineer Mike Marino were absent from the meeting.
Trustee Vic Eydt asked what needed to be in place for a second submission to the Planning Board and a concluding trip to the trustees.
"It would seem to me that, once we get it back - once it comes to this board - it should be in a final form for this board to approve or disapprove," Leone said. "Whether or not the applicant chooses to go to the ZBA to try to get his variances now, or not, that remains to be seen.
"You have to remember: The ZBA is a final board. So, whatever they're going to say as to the variances, it's going to be binding upon this board."
Sutherland said he has "some issues" with Jerge's plan to tear down the former Fairchild Manor nursing home and build a three-story apartment complex and, possibly, four single-family homes.
"The plan itself ... (the apartment complex) it's been moved up (10 feet toward Onondaga Street), and it doesn't have the setback requirements," Sutherland said. "And I feel that it's a large building to begin with. And we're moving it up in front of the other buildings on that street. That's going to make it even look bigger and more out of place. It should be back at least ... level with (the other homes).
"And I have an issue with the parking - using the right of way for parking, when we're going to plow ... those cars in. I would like to see ... a buffer there. A 5-, 8-foot grassy buffer. Maybe a tree or two on it? Where the plows can go by and the snow goes in there. Then we have the parking beyond that."
"Personally, I liked the other plan he had with the duplexes," Sutherland added.
Trustee Nick Conde also said he preferred Jerge's previous proposal, which called for a row of patio homes on Fairchild Place. He said it would be preferential if the developer made the site two rows of duplexes.
Across the street, Sutherland said he appreciates Ellicott Development's offer to move the mixed-use plaza's southwest side up to Center Street, and to build a sidewalk on North Eighth Street, but noted he had "a lot of concerns about the truck traffic."
"I don't want the trucks going down residential streets," he said. "I don't think our residents deserve to have 18-wheelers or big trucks going down residential streets. They have to figure out a way to get the trucks in there and out up Eighth Street and leave the residences back there alone."
Sutherland said Ellicott Development needs to identify which of the plaza's three buildings is the primary, and that a plan needs to be in place to remediate the soil.
"There's a lot that needs to be done and looked at," he said.
Trustees intend to sit down with Planning Board members and specifically detail what variances each project will require.
The village received several pieces of correspondence this week regarding possible code violations. Three came from new ZBA member George VanHoose, who wrote, "I have put this together to bring attention to (possible) oversights, errors and planned actions."
An unnamed member of the anonymous "Lewiston Concerned Citizens and Business Owners" group submitted a packet of codebook entries and highlighted areas said to clash with the two proposals.
Conde said, "We're looking into all of them, and we're going to address them."
Department of Public Works Superintendent Terry Brolinski also said more time is needed to identify the projects' required sewer treatments. At the Planning Board meeting, he said the village could theoretically handle the extra water load. With the next submission, Brolinski said he and Marino would need more specific details.