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Once again, Lewiston Town Board tables Rubino PUD concept plan

Tue, Sep 26th 2017 03:15 pm
By Terry Duffy
Citing the need for more information, the Lewiston Town Board unanimously moved to table its vote Monday on the concept plan for the Rubino brothers' 107 parcel planned unit development eyed for 80.2 acres east of Bronson Drive.
But before that, Town Board members and officials engaged in significant discussion on the many aspects of the multimillion-dollar venture.
Noting the comments received from the Rubino interests at the Sept. 11 public hearing (where a motion also was tabled), and concerns of residents, who were again out in force at Town Hall, Councilman Alfonso Marra Bax filed a motion to table.
"I would ask that this be tabled for at least one more meeting. I am planning to meet with some of the residents," Bax said, noting Councilman Rob Morreale intended to do likewise.
Morreale posed questions to John Rubino who was in attendance at the session. "This is a big project going on in the town," he said.
Then, Morreale explained the Rubino project represented his first PUD experience as a board member.
"There's a few things I've seen happen in older developments that we're trying to eliminate," he said. "We're here for the taxpayers, also, and we're trying to make sure you get a good deal - we get a good deal."
Morreale said he has a host of concerns related to the PUD, including its potential impact of planned bedrock blasting on neighboring residences; the added strain on existing water and sewer lines; questions over the developer's financial stability; traffic issues, including the accuracy of an earlier 1980s study and recent updates; access routes and the impact on existing residents; plus drainage, wetland and floodplain issues.
On each issue, Rubino sought to assure board members he had already addressed or was in the process of resolving the concerns.
Questioning whether an actual need exists for additional patio homes in Lewiston, Morreale pointed to a current backlog of roughly 245 available building lots existing in the town.
"That's quite a bit of land" already, he commented.
"Our phone is actually ringing; we have a list of people that are interested in this development," Rubino responded.
"I could have contracts; it's a good piece of property; it's a great location," he said.
"This something that, if it was not demand, we wouldn't be here."
As discussion continued on whether to approve PUD concept plan, Councilman Bill Geiben inquired on what comes next should the board gives its OK.
"This is just a concept plan; they have to come back with the detailed plans for the next phase of the project. That would all have to be approved by the town engineer, to make (sure) it complies with all our water codes, all of our sewer codes, everything of that nature," said A. Joseph Catalano, attorney for the town. "If you approve today, they're not going to go out and start building tomorrow morning."
Supervisor Steve Broderick and Town Engineer Robert Lannon added there are a host of State Environmental Quality Review issues that also would still need to be addressed.
Town Building Inspector Tim Masters provided the board insight on the timeframe.
"Within 31 days following receipt by the Town Board report of the Planning Board, the Town Board shall conduct a public hearing. Then, within 62 days thereafter, the Town Board shall either refuse to approve the concept plan or shall refer it back to the Planning Board," Masters said.
"The only issue now is the traffic study, including Bronson Drive," Broderick said.
"The traffic right now on Bronson Drive is horrendous, with school buses," Morreale said.
Deputy Supervisor Bill Conrad, who also serves as chair of the Planning Board, said the latest elements of the Rubino traffic study are now complete and posted online on the town website, www.townoflewiston.us.
Conrad said what remains in contention is the actual scope of the traffic study performed. Those details are anticipated to be provided by Metzger Civil Engineering PLLC on behalf of the Rubino brothers.
"The Planning Board is working diligently with the residents and the developers," Conrad said. "... We're really scouring and digging deeply into all these little issues, because of the history with Lewiston and what we've done wrong in the past."
"This is only the concept plan," Conrad reminded the board as he argued for its approval. "In order to get some of the answers into the blasting issue (and others) ... is only going to be answered when this is moving forward, (when) the more in-depth engineering design work is going to done.
"I think right now we are going to be working against ourselves, getting those answers if we continue to delay the concept plan. The concept is just a concept plan. Nothing is going to be built, and we're far from that. But, in order for this ... to get the answers that we need, I think it would be wise to consider to approve the concept plan."
Masters and Catalano said the 62-day clock exists and the town would be moving on the timeframe with its scheduling of a public hearing.
"In 62 days, we either have to send it back to the Planning Board or it already becomes approved," Geiben said.
"Or we reject it," Masters said. "That's the option."
"If we move forward (on this) this, it's just questions that Councilman Morreale has asked (traffic issues, access) that we get specific answers (from the developer) in the next stage," Geiben said.
"A lot of the answers that you're looking for are not going to come forward until the detailed plan starts to get formulated," Masters said. "Right now we don't have any numbers; we don't have any soil borings. This simply purely a concept.
"In fact, the traffic analysis isn't even required by the town code until the detailed plan. So a lot of the questions that are being asked need to be addressed in the detailed plan."
Masters explained the concept plan represents "a general idea. Then you start putting together, will the drainage work? Is there going to blasting or not? Can the sewer ... can the water actually handle it? That's when the numbers-cruncher really comes in."
He added the majority of the answers will be answered in the detailed plan, "not in this preliminary stage."
"We need to move ahead ... if the Town Board accepts the concept plan," Geiben said.
Bax commented, "(I) think a lot of the residents also understand there is a multitude of steps that has to go forward before there is a shovel in the ground. (But) as much as we approve the concept, I would much rather have more of the details ironed out ahead of time ... than during the negotiation phase of what it's going to look like."
"In order to get the answers, we have to move forward," Geiben said, as he urged approval.
On a motion soon after from Broderick, it appeared board members had voiced approval of the concept measure.
Or did they?
Many of the dozen-plus residents in attendance immediately objected, pointing to Bax's and Morreale earlier stated opposition and wish to table.
Ultimately, the board did not approve a motion, but rather continued the concept plan debate.
"I would like to table for just one more meeting," Bax said.
Morreale seconded the motion.
Bax said he wished to incorporate all the residents' concerns before rendering a decision.
The Rubino brothers PUD concept plan will be revisited at the Town Board's work session 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 12, at Town Hall.

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