Previte backs Planning Commission and traffic study recommendation to keep Center Street entry-only
By Joshua Maloni
For the second time this fall, it appears the Ellicott Development plaza proposal is nearing a final vote.
Village of Lewiston trustees expect to have lingering issues resolved prior to their 6 p.m. Nov. 7 work session. They scheduled a motion on Monday to issue a declaration of impact related to Ellicott Development's State Environmental Quality Review submission.
Once the SEQR process is completed, Mayor Terry Collesano said a public hearing would be set, allowing residents one final opportunity to speak on the merits of the proposal before the board accepts or rejects the plaza plan.
Trustees had intended to vote on the SEQR and hold a public hearing in October, but opted for more time to deliberate once Ellicott Development applied for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation brownfield cleanup program.
The Buffalo property management company applied for state income tax credits to help offset the cost of remediating its property at 756-790 Center St. - land that borders North Eighth and Onondaga streets.
"There is some things there, given its past uses, that we think would definitely allow it to get into the program," Ellicott Development CEO William Paladino said of the partially contaminated site. "And at the end of the day, you would have a completely clean site, in terms of petroleum and other metals and other things that may be on the property. Where, if you didn't go into the program, you wouldn't have to clean it to the extent at which brownfield makes you clean it up."
Ellicott Development counsel Sean Hopkins, of Hopkins, Sorgi & Romanowski said, "We're participating on a voluntary basis. Meaning appropriate due diligence was done."
"Overall, we view it as being an environmental benefit, not a detriment," he added.
Center Street Entrance
Trustees recently expressed concern over the plaza's Center Street entrance-only roadway, which leads into the three-building development.
On Monday, Lewiston No. 1 Volunteer Fire Co. director Barry Beebe again advocated for a wider entryway, and a right-turn-only exit lane. Moreover, he said the two in-out drive lanes on North Eighth Street could lead to motor vehicle accidents due to their close proximity. Finally, he said, "We're really concerned, in the wintertime, with the (Eighth Street) hill, people trying to get out of there, trying to punch it to go out and get up the hill, we're going to have problems there."
Neighbors have shared similar sentiment.
Paladino said he would consider moving the north Eighth Street entry/exit way north - closer to Onondaga Street - and he could install signs at the south entry/exit way stating, "left turn only," to encourage motorists to avoid the steep hill.
He was not willing to change the Center Street entryway.
"The in-only there, that's been something that's been discussed for 12 months," Paladino said. "That was the initial thing from the Planning Board. All our plans, everything to date, was worked around that central issue that was decided by the Planning Board very early in this process. That's something that's come up repeatedly, and the Planning Board has stood steadfast that they believe that's a dangerous situation - going out onto Center Street - no matter what direction you're going in."
"We still believe that is the safest thing - to have the exits in-only - and have three curb-cuts, one being Onondaga, two being Eighth Street," he added.
SRF & Associates came to the same conclusion. The Rochester transportation planning and traffic engineering firm was hired by Ellicott Development to conduct a traffic study.
Lewiston Police Chief Frank Previte concurred with Paladino and SRF.
"I think that an exit onto Center Street would be a bad idea - at that location," he said. "I think you're going to have problems just like we do at Tops. Tops has marked that (front entrance 'no left turn'), and I can't tell you how many people disregard that sign and turn that way. ...
"What troubles me about that (possible Center Street exit) is blindspots coming out. I think that we have enough of that, that we've dealt with already, that we're trying to manage. I think that would just kind of exacerbate things."
Upon hearing from Previte, trustees shook their heads and appeared to acquiesce.
Following the meeting, Collesano said, "I think we understand now, as a board, that it's not a good thing to put an exit onto Center Street."
Trustee Vic Eydt said Ellicott Development should have its inflow and infiltration plan ready for Village of Lewiston Engineer Mike Marino and Department of Public Works Superintendent Terry Brolinski prior to the November board meeting.
The company is required to provide the municipality four gallons of rainwater relief for each one gallon of wastewater generated by the development.
If the plaza plan is approved, Paladino said work would begin in early 2017 - toward the end of winter.
"We'll start the brownfield environmental stuff as soon as we can get on the site," he said. "It won't take very long. Probably within a month we can clean up the site."
"Given the weather," he continued, "February/March, clear the site and do the remediation. And then April start the construction."
"We'd have something done within one year," Paladino said. "The site will be done in phases. (Buildings No. 2 and No. 3: the east side two-story building where Smith Brothers Pizza recently operated, and the two-story apartment/retail complex bordering Onondaga Street) will probably be done first. And then one, the (west Center Street side), will probably be the last one completed.
"Two and three we'd probably start right away, with the one at the corner awaiting a future date."
Building No. 1 calls for a drive-thru window and is expected to house a fast-food restaurant.