By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
Developers are hoping to start work this year on a decade-old housing project.
The Grand Island Town Board held a public hearing April 4 regarding an amended concept plan for Gun Creek Planned Development District, proposed for property off Whitehaven Road, north toward Tracey Lane, and crossing Gun Creek. Sean Hopkins of the law firm of Hopkins, Sorgi & Romanowski spoke on behalf of Gun Creek LLC, the project applicants, in describing the plan.
"This project has a very long history, going all the way back to the Town Board approving the PDD zoning in the summer of 2006. Subsequently, an amended development concept plan was approved in 2014," Hopkins said.
The 2014 plan project consisted of a maximum of 252 residential units on a site slightly less than 100 acres in size. Hopkins described for the Town Board changes in the plan since 2014, saying, "In every instance, it's been a downward adjustment, whether it's density, wetland impacts, traffic, etc., etc."
The Planning Board recommended approval of the plan in February. A townhouse component of the plan was approved in 2006 for a maximum of 74 units, Hopkins said.
"Based on input we received from the Planning Board, that is now down to 63 units," he told the Town Board, saying the Planning Board asked the developer to consider new R-2 zoning standards and use them as a guideline for the project. "And that's exactly what we've done," Hopkins said.
On the recommendation a month ago from Councilwoman Beverly Kinney, the plan has more green space along the edge of the property, Hopkins added. The plan also reduces or eliminates 26 previously proposed two-family units.
"And that's what really gets us that reduction in density," Hopkins said. "So we're going from 252 units approved approximately two years ago, down to 215 units. So it's a pretty substantial reduction."
While the town master plan recommends medium density residential subdivisions to have a maximum 3-plus units per acre, the density of the Gun Creek PDD is about 2.15 units per acre, putting the project at approximately 66 percent of allowable density, Hopkins pointed out.
Changes in the plan necessitated another public hearing for the 10-year-old project. PDD zoning is based on a precise layout, Hopkins noted, and as per provisions of the zoning code, amendments need approval of the development concept plan from the board.
"Meaning if you have PDD zoning, you can't just do whatever you want. It has to be on a precise layout," Hopkins said.
Tracey Lane residents had a concern about the project's phased development, so the developer will start the project on Whitehaven Road and work its way back, Hopkins said. The developer is confident this project will move forward in the 2016 construction season, he said.
During the public hearing, Diane Evans of the town's Conservation Advisory Board reminded the Town Board of main concerns regarding wetlands and Gun Creek, and that they be protected from extra sedimentation. In phase 2 of the project, she said, several properties are close to the creek.