By Larry Austin
Island Dispatch Editor
A second phase of the Heron Pointe apartment project on Grand Island Boulevard received site plan approval from the Town Board Monday, though two of the five board members demurred.
Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray and Councilman Michael Madigan, who don’t often agree on much of anything, both voted “No.” Council members Bev Kinney, Pete Marston and Jennifer Baney voted “Yes.”
Phase one of the ongoing Heron Pointe project includes more than 200 apartments in two- and three-story buildings. Phase two will include 144 more units, all in two-story buildings, with a new access to Whitehaven Road.
Marston said phase two of the project includes some “pretty strong conditions.” He pointed out the phase started at 160 units and is down to 144, “and that was all done with the neighbors’ input and our input.”
“We also requested, and (the developer) agreed, to a turning lane to be on the Grand Island Boulevard project, which will help immensely, because that is definitely an Achilles heel for us right now with some serious traffic issues,” Marston said.
“I think the original project was rammed through, and I don’t want to be part of extending that project. That’s what it comes down to,” Town Supervisor Nathan McMurray said of his “No” vote after the meeting. He said the project’s passage, whose development was well underway when he became town supervisor, was done in a “ham fisted way.”
“If the first project would have been doing correctly, we never would have had the second phase. They made a lot of promises this time about how they’re going to do things differently,” McMurray said. “I saw how they did the first phase and they didn’t do a lot of things they said they were going to do.”
Both McMurray and Madigan expressed reservations about overdevelopment on the Island.
“I don’t think you should have endless development where you’ve had a player that hasn’t exactly delivered on what they promised before,” McMurray said.
Madigan listed several projects that indicate a downward trend. (“Southpointe in particular,” he said, referring to a massive project passed in the 1990s that is moving forward, albeit at a snail’s pace.)
“We’re just overdeveloping the Island and I’m very concerned,” Madigan said after the meeting. “We need to really sit back and say, hold it. Timeout. Let’s rethink. What are we doing, why are we doing it and how are we doing it? I’m really seeing us spiraling into Amherst, and I don’t want to be an Amherst. I want to be that rural community that we’ve always been. Some people say we need to continually grow, we need to add, etc., etc. I’m not convinced that that’s the case. I think, provided our government stays under control, I don’t think the need of that exists. Smart growth, not overdevelopment.”
The next regular meeting of the Grand Island Town Board will be at 8 p.m. Monday, April 1, in Grand Island Town Hall, 2255 Baseline Road.
Grand Island Town Board