By Alice E. Gerard
Residents of East River Road and Timberlink Drive expressed their opposition to a proposed local law to rezone portions of Whitehaven Road from B-1 to B-2 at a public hearing held at the Oct. 18 Grand Island Town Board meeting.
According to Paul Koppmann, the plan in front of the board, including the proposed rezoning, had been presented to the Grand Island Planning Board on July 12, where it was rejected, due to issues of density and buffers.
He said, “A cluster development was mentioned as a nonstarter, as far as the Planning Board was concerned.”
Koppmann said, “This is clearly an attempt to circumvent the rejection of the Planning Board. This plan has already been rejected, and I don’t understand why it’s here before the Town Board.”
According to Harold Cushing, “It appears that the cart’s a little bit in front of the horse with this request for a zone change. It appears to be a way of sidestepping the Planning Board with a request. I am glad to see that it is going to the Planning Board.”
Koppmann said, “It’s really clear that rezoning without an acceptable plan is not in the best interest of Grand Island going forward. This is clearly an attempt to circumvent the rejection of the Planning Board. This plan has already been rejected, and I don’t understand why it’s here before the Town Board. This really should be rejected by the Town Board and referred back to the Planning Board, where it belongs. In my opinion, it’s the responsibility of the applicant to respect the process to present the plan in the spirit of the master plan.”
Attorney Paul Hopkins of Hopkins & Sorgi, who introduced the plan at the public hearing, said, “That property is 14.3 acres of the 65-acre site that Frank Grebenc has owned since 1989.”
He described the history of proposed developments on the property, beginning with a 1989 proposal. “At that point in time, there was much more intensive development envisioned. There were 240 midrise apartments, 240 retirement home, and then 25 acres of commercial, which included the 14.3 acres that we are showing to you this evening.”
Another development proposal, called the LightHouse Pointe project, was proposed in 2014.
“It was approximately 300 apartments and a single-family subdivision. That particular project was not well received by the adjoining property owners, including those who live in Timberlink. Ultimately, this board – a predecessor board – adopted a moratorium,” Hopkins said.
He described the current plan for rezoning the area to be “conceptual.” The plan includes 39 lots for detached single homes, along with some larger houses, as well as 94 two-story townhomes.
Cushing said, “The homeowners on Timberlink, ever since 2014 when LightHouse Pointe was proposed, always understood that there would be some sort of development behind us, and they have never had a problem with some sort of development.”
Koppmann expressed concern about the wetlands in the area. He said unaddressed issues included buffers, such as “creeks, berms and the like.”
John Chin, who said he recently moved to the area, noted, “I’m concerned that, if you develop more, the flooding in this area will increase.”
Koppmann described the proposed local law as “reliving 2016 all over again.”