By Karen Carr Keefe
Senior Contributing Writer
Another proposed project off Long Road was the subject of a public hearing in Monday’s Grand Island Town Board meeting, but this time, it was a 48-lot housing development in the crosshairs, not a mega-warehouse.
Trautman Associates is seeking reapproval for a revised plan for Ashbrooke Court Estates.
After the hearing, councilmembers tabled the matter, as they have done previously, for further consideration by the town Planning Board, which next meets on Tuesday, Oct. 10.
During the hearing, residents whose homes are near the proposed project raised questions about the changes and the potential impact of the development on drainage.
Starting off the hearing was a slide presentation on the revisions by John F. Daly from Trautman, an architectural engineering firm in Buffalo.
The development is planned for nearly 38 acres in the northwest corner of Grand Island, north of Long Road, east of the Thruway and south of Buckhorn State Park.
Daly showed the original site plan and pointed out the new delineations of the wetlands. He explained he is part of the team that recently acquired this subdivision. He said that, because the original plan showing the wetlands was done more than 10 years ago, it had to be redone.
“So we had the site surveyed, the DEC (state Department of Environmental Conservation) came out and verified all of the wetlands,” he said. “We have a lot of hits where the wetlands have kind of encroached in where the roadway was going to be.”
In discussions with the DEC, the firm determined to keep the wetlands disturbance to less than half an acre. Daly said they are a little over, at 0.7 acres now. To reduce that, Trautman plans to shift the road to miss a lot of the wetlands.
“Any of the wetlands we’re disturbing we are replacing,” he said.
Daly then showed the proposed site plan revision, which lengthens the road, missing wetlands, and then adjusts to permit the full 48 lots, despite the roadway shift.
He said they are creating retention areas for stormwater. It’s also a goal to retain as much of the vegetation as possible, because it’s one of the attractive features of the site, he said.
One concern residents expressed was water already backing up into their basements from wetlands drainage. They fear that, with the additional housing, it will worsen the problem.
Also, neighbors of the proposed development are on septic systems now and would like to have the benefit of being connected to a sewer system that would go in as the new houses are built.
Councilmember Tom Digati addressed some of those concerns.
“Can we just clarify that this is a public hearing on preliminary plat approval? This site has not been engineered. It was already approved 20 years ago for more lots than are being sought to be approved here. So, those answers will come. They’re just not available yet,” Digati said. “This is just the very beginning of the process.”
Councilmember Christian Bahleda said, “The process right now is to take public comment on this. We’re not ignoring questions right now. But typically, this is not a Q&A. We do want your voices heard.”
Bahleda assured that the public comments would be brought forward to the developer.
Resident Bill Ryan said that, in February and early March, there is a frozen creek on the parcel.
“The deer use that as a highway,” he said, and explained that was something missing from the map between the two wetland areas that were pointed out in the earlier slide presentation.
In other business, the board approved:
•The addition of a street light by P&CG, the town’s contractor, to improve safety. It will be installed at the intersection of East River and Whitehaven roads at the request of the Traffic Safety Advisory Board. The request states: “The Radisson sign and parking lot light used to light up the intersection; their closing has left that area in the dark.” The cost was pegged at $4,170.
•A second light was requested to be installed at the Scenic Wood Trail/Pump Station 22 parking lot. The request from Town Engineer Robert Westfall, said, “The Parks Department has received several complaints from the neighbors about people hanging out there after dark and have had to deal with various instances of vandalism.” The board decided to hold off on approving that one, pending an investigation of whether the cost of that light, projected at $5,725, could be reduced by making it solar-powered.
Deputy Supervisor Pete Marston said, “The one at East River and Whitehaven has become a growing concern of many that live down there because the Radisson used to give definition to the end (of the intersection), and now it doesn’t exist; whether it will exist in the future or not with the new development is to be determined. I don’t think it’s a lot to ask to have a streetlight on the corner that substantial.”