May 21, 2007
Planning Board Minutes
Oswego Town Hall
Chair: Jeffrey Boyer
Town Board Members: Judy Sabin-Watson, Francis Dellamano,
Lee Phillips, Barry Pritchard, James Finn
Attorney To The Board: Stephen Greene, Jr.
At approximately 7:10, Chairman Jeffrey Boyer called the meeting to order
Those in attendance were:
Approval of April 16, 2007 Minutes:
Jeff Boyer asked if there were any comments or corrections to the April 16, 2007 minutes. There being none, Barry Pritchard made a motion that we approve them. Judy Watson seconded the motion. All ayes. Motion carried.
Application #2007-03 - United Development Group - Oswego College Suites - Site Plan Review:
Jeff noted that the Board has been legally designated as the Lead Agency for overseeing the process for the development of the Oswego College Suites. As part of that, we have a SEQRA Long Form that we need to review tonight. Marge is going to read us some questions and we need to answer them. It is up to our Board to answer the questions on Pages 11 through 21. This form is called "Full Environmental Assessment Form". The purpose of this form: The full EAF is designed to help applicants and agencies determine, in an orderly manner, whether a project or action may be significant. The questions of whether an action may be significant is not always easy to answer. Frequently, there are aspects of a project that are subjective or immeasurable. It is also understood that those who determine significance may have little or no formal knowledge of the environment or may be technically expert in environmental analysis. In addition, many who have knowledge in one particular area may not be aware of the broader concerns affecting the question of significance. The full EAF is intended to provide a method whereby applicants and agencies can be assured that the determination process has been orderly, comprehensive in nature, yet flexible to allow introduction of information to fit a project or action. As lead agency, we are required to complete Part 2 of this EAF form. Jeff then explained the categories - Small to Moderate Impact; Potential Large Impact; and Can Impact Be mitigated by Project Change. We will have discussion on each item, and then the members will agree to fill in the correct answer. Jeff then turned it over to Marge to read the questions:-
Impact on Land
1. Will the Proposed Action result in a physical change to the project site? Answer - Yes
Any construction on slopes of 15% or greater, (15 foot rise per 100 foot of length), or where the general slopes in the project area exceed 10% - Potential Large Impact - Yes.
Can Impact Be mitigated by Project Change - Yes.
Construction on land where the depth to the water table is less that 3 feet. - It was agreed that Barton and Loguidice, the Engineers would determine this.
Construction of paved parking area for 1,000 or more vehicles - N/A
Construction on land where bedrock is exposed or generally within 3 feet of existing ground surface - N/A
Construction that will continue for more than 1 year or involve more than one phase or stage - Potential Large Impact - Can Impact Be mitigated by Project Change - Yes.
Excavation for mining purposes that would remove more than 1,000 tons of natural material (i.e., rock or soil) per year - N/A
Construction or expansion of a sanitary landfill - N/A
Construction in a designated floodway - Potential Large Impact - Can Impact Be Mitigated by Project Change - Yes
2, Will there be an effect to any unique or unusual land forms found on the site? (i.e., cliffs, dunes, geological formations, etc.) - Yes
Impact on Water:
3. Will Proposed Action affect any water body designated as protected? (Under Articles 15, 24, 25 of the Environmental Conservation Law - Yes
Developable area of site contains a protected water body - Barton & Loguidice
Dredging more than 100 cubic yards of material from channel of a protected stream - Barton & Loguidice.
Extension of utility distribution facilities through a protected water body - Barton & Loguidice.
Construction in a designated freshwater or tidal wetland - Barton & Loguidice.
Other impacts - Barton & Loguidice.
4. Will Proposed Action affect any non-protected existing or new body of water? - Barton & Loguidice.
A 10% increase or decrease in the surface area of any body of water or more than a 10 acre increase of decrease - Barton & Loguidice
Construction of a body of water that exceeds 10 acres of surface area - Barton & Loguidice
Other impacts - Barton & Loguidice
5. Will Proposed Action affect surface or groundwater quality or quantity? - Yes
Proposed Action will require a discharge permit - Small to Moderate Impact - Can Impact Be Mitigated by Project Change - Yes
Proposed Action requires use of a source of water that does not have approval to serve proposed (project) action - Potential Large Impact - Can Impact Be Mitigated by Project Change - Yes
Proposed action requires water supply from wells with greater than 45 gallons per minute pumping capacity - N/A
Construction or operation causing any contamination of a water supply system - N/A
Proposed Action will adversely affect groundwater. - Barton & Loguidice
Liquid effluent will be conveyed off the site to facilities which presently do not exist or have inadequate capacity - Barton & Loguidice.
Proposed Action would use water in excess of 20,000 gallons per day - N/A
Proposed Action will likely cause siltation or other discharge into an existing body of water to the extent that there will be an obvious visual contrast to natural conditions - Potential Large Impact - Can impact Be Mitigated by Project Change - Yes
Proposed Action will require the storage of petroleum or chemical products greater that 1,100 gallons - N/A
Proposed Action will allow residential uses in areas without water and/or sewer services - Potential Large Impact - Can Impact Be Mitigated by Project Change.
Proposed Action locates commercial and/or industrial uses which may require new or expansion of existing waster treatment and/or storage facilities - Barton & Loguidice.
6. Will Proposed Action alter drainage flow or patterns, or surface water runoff? - Yes
Proposed Action would change flood water flows - Small to Moderate Impact - Can Impact Be Mitigated by Project Change - Yes
Proposed Action may cause substantial erosion - Potential Large Impact - Can Impact Be Mitigated by Project Change - Yes
Proposed Action is incompatible with existing drainage patterns. - Small to Moderate Impact - Can Impact Be Mitigated by Project Change - Yes
Proposed Action will allow development in a designated floodway - N/A
Impact On Air:
Will Proposed Action affect air quality? - No
Impact on Plants and Animals:
8. Will Proposed Action affect any threatened or endangered species - DEC
9. Will Proposed Action substantially affect non-threatened or non-endangered species - No
Impact on Agricultural Land Resources:
Will Proposed Action affect agricultural land resources - No.
Impact on Aesthetic Resources:
There is a Visual EAF Addendum, 617.20, put together by the Zoning Board that goes along with Question 11. It will assist us in answering the next series of questions.
11. Will Proposed Action affect aesthetic resources (If necessary, use the Visual EAF Addendum in Section 617.20, Appendix B.) - Yes
Proposed land uses, or project components obviously different from or in sharp contrast to current surrounding land use patterns, whether man-made or natural. - Potential Large Impact - Can Impact Be mitigated by Project Change - No
Proposed land uses, or project components visible to users of aesthetic resources which will eliminate or significantly reduce their enjoyment of the aesthetic qualities of that resource - Small to Moderate Impact - Can Impact Be Mitigated by Project Change - Yes
Project components that will result in the elimination or significant screening of scenic views known to be important to the area - N/A
Impact on Historic and Archaeological Resources:
12. Will Proposed Action impact any site or structure of historic, prehistoric or pale- ontological importance? - Yes
Proposed Action occurring wholly or partially within or substantially contiguous to any facility or site listed on the State or National Register of historic places? - N/A
Any impact to an archeological site or fossil bed located within the project site? - N/A
Proposed Action will occur in an area designated as sensitive for archaeological sites on the NYS Site Inventory - N/A
Impact on Open Space and Recreation:
13. Will proposed Action affect the quantity or quality of existing or future open spaces or recreational opportunities? - No.
Impact on Critical Environmental Areas:
14. Will Proposed Action impact the exceptional or unique characteristics of a critical environmental area (CEA) established pursuant to subdivision 6NYCRR 617.14(g)? - Yes
Impact on Transportation:-
15. Will there be an effect to existing transportation systems? - Yes
Alteration of present patterns of movement of people and/or goods - Potential Large Impact - Can Impact Be Mitigated by Project Change - Yes
Proposed Action will result in major traffic problems - Potential Large Impact - Can Impact Be Mitigated by Project Change - Yes
Impact on Energy:
16. Will Proposed Action affect the community's sources of fuel or energy supply? - No
Noise and Odor Impact:
17. Will there be objectionable odors, noise, or vibration as a result of Proposed Action? - No.
Impact on Public Health:
18. Will Proposed Action affect public health and safety? - No
Impact on Growth and Character of Community or Neighborhood:
19. Will Proposed Action affect the character of the existing community? - Yes
The permanent population of the city, town or village in which the project is located is likely to grow by more than 5% - N/A
The municipal budget for capital expenditures or operating services will increase by more than 5% per year as a result of this project. - N/A
Proposed Action will conflict with officially adopted plans or goals - N/A
Proposed Action will cause a change in the density of land use - Can Impact Be Mitigated by Project Change - No
Proposed Action will replace or eliminate existing facilities, structures or areas of historic importance to the community. -N/A
Development will create a demand for additional community services (e.g. schools, police and fire, etc) - Can Impact Be Mitigated by Project Change - No
Proposed Action will set an important precedent for future projects. - Potential Large
Impact - Can Impact Be Mitigated by Project Change - No.
Proposed Action will create or eliminate employment - Small to Moderate Impact - Can Impact Be Mitigated by Project Change - No
20. Is there, or is there likely to be, public controversy related to potential adverse environmental impacts? - Yes
Jeff said when we receive the answers from Barton and Loguidice, we will send the long SEQRA Form to the various interested and involved agencies.
Jeff said the 62 day period is prior to our next meeting, we have requested a written extension from the applicant to extend the decision. We have received that written approval for an additional 30 days, which would be July 6th. Based on that, there are a couple of things we need. We have put out a letter to United Group requesting some information. I have received a vehicular and pedestrian plan. There are still some items outstanding, and he asked Jeff Smetana for a time frame when we could expect these items. Jeff said we also need to complete a 239 Referral to the County Planning Board. We will need that by June 6th if we are going to make the July 6th deadline. If not, we would have to ask for another extension. The County needs a month to go over the referral. We have to get together and discuss it, so maybe June 6th is too late as well. Jeff says he sees at least 2 more meetings to make sure we have everything to make a decision.
Jeff Smetana asked if the July 6th date could be changed to July 20th. Attorney Michael Stanley changed the extension data on the letter to July 20, 2007. Jeff quoted the letter from Mike Stanley:
"As you know, this office represents United Development Corp. in connection with matters pending before the Planning Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals in the Town of Oswego.
It is our understanding that the Board is required to make a decision on the application within sixty-two (62) days of the public hearing, as required by Town Law Section 274-a.
Our client has authorized delivery of this letter as evidence of the consent of the applicant to extend the time within which the Board must render its decision by forty-four (44) days, with the understanding that a decision will be issued on or before July 20, 2007.
As you know, the Planning Board has, appropriately, requested a number of reports and or studies, and those items are being aggressively developed and will be submitted to the Board for its consideration as soon as they are available.
Please feel free to contact me with any questions on the foregoing.
Very truly yours, Michael J. Stanley"
That letter was dated May 18, 2007. Jeff asked if there were any more questions. Jim Finn said we have a traffic information document. He asked if that we are considering, the traffic study. This is from United Group. Jeff said that is not the traffic study. He understands that an independent firm is looking into the traffic study. Fran asked if this is vehicular, pedestrian and bicycles?
Fran stated this is a big problem. We need some real answers. Back in the 60ís when the zoning was put into effect, he held a public hearing. The biggest complaint at the public hearing was the residential area rules are not strict enough. We as a Board have to think about this, as it is a residential area. He said he needs a wealth of information before he can vote for it. He thinks the person who is doing the traffic study should come here and talk to us, and see if he or she can come up with an answer to these problems. If we don't do this, there are going to be negative votes.
Jeff Smetana said the consultant we will use will give us a study. We have been through a number of hearings with both the Planning Board and Zoning Board, and have heard the issues on traffic.
Fran said the person should come in and interact with the Planning Board. This would be helping United Group. We will have to meet with them this week of next week. Jeff Smetana again said he would get a professional consultant to do a study, and see if it answers your questions. Fran said is asking for United Groups help, so we can help them. He said he would even take the consultant for a ride in the area.
Jeff Smetana pointed to the maps and drawings, and said he appreciated Fran's input, but given where the site is and the proximity to the college, and the potential of vehicle, pedestrian, bicycle and bus routes, and then this area here of the Ontario Heights neighborhood, there have been specific comments on how traffic will come through their neighborhood - we had talked about the likely destinations, the means of getting there might be. He said a professional would be in a very good position to look at the road network, the intersections, the level of transportation. If we had several meetings, there would be similar comments on the similar issues. Fran again insisted that we need a consultant to come here personally and go over the issues.
Lee Phillips said he has to agree with Fran. When a traffic expert is coming in, and you, you are only talking about going from your place to the college. You are talking about
522 cars. They aren't going to stay in the parking lot. You also have the highest rate of accidents, according to insurance companies with these kids. Anytime anyone travels that way there is the possibility of getting into an accident. He told Jeff Smetana that he hadn't mentioned that. That is why we want to talk to someone who is going to make the survey. We don't want to know just from your place to the college.
Fran said this is not going to be a simple process. There will have to be some research which will take some time. Jeff Smetana said he would find out the availability of a traffic consultant. Jeff Boyer said we need to do this before June 12th.
Fran asked if we are going to write a letter to the State Highway Department to have the engineers come and talk with us to see about the problem on 104, and how we are going to address that part? Or is this traffic person going to do it? Steve said when we make the referral to the County Planning Board, we will also put DOT on notice, and they will look into it.
Fran made a motion that we write a letter. Jim Finn seconded the motion. All ayes. Motion carried.
Jeff Boyer said we are now open to the public.
First, he thanked the Board for taking the serious approach to the problems. If you look at the instructions for the Environment Assessment Form, in the places where you weren't sure, it clearly says in the instructions maybe the answers should be considered as Yes answers. When you go to the energy question, if you look at the instructions, that the examples are provided to assist reviewer by showing the types of impacts and wherever possible the threshold of magnitude that would trigger a response in column 2. And if you look at the impact on energy "Proposed Action will require the creation or extension of an energy transmission or supply system to serve more than 50 single or two family residences", the answer to that is Yes. The fact that it is an impact, doesn't mean that it is a negative impact. Then No. 19, the population, I understand why you said it would not be a permanent population, but according to the Zoning Board, this is not a dormitory, it is apartments, so those people count as permanent residents of the town, even if they are there for one year. Finally, when it comes to the change in transportation, you said the developer can mitigate the problem. The developer can't mitigate the problem. Problems will have to be dealt with by the State and County. The only way the developer could mitigate the problem would be reducing the number of people at the site.
She said she is glad she has a copy of the petition, as I assumed everyone was aware that there is a petition, because I had submitted it to the Town Supervisor way back in April. It was submitted with this letter. There have been many phone calls, many letters opposing this project. I think a lot of the people who are not here tonight feel that this is a done deal. I will read again, I will read the statement read to the Town of Oswego Zoning Board, and I did give a copy to the Town Supervisor:
We the residents of Oswego Town are writing to request a denial of the apartment complex proposed by United Development Group (UGC).The decision to build a complex that will house anywhere from 700-900 students will forever change the nature and character of the neighborhood. We site the following reasons for this request:
1. Population Density: The addition of 400-900 prospective tenants will more than quadruple the amount of residents in the quiet rural residential community. A development intended to house 400+ students is not in compliance with the nature of the residential and rural one & two family dwellings surrounding it.
2 Increase in Vehicular and Pedestrian Traffic: This area is of particular concern to those residents on Baylis, Franklin, Draper, Swifts Sts. And Johnson Rd. For years the residents of the homes neighboring the college have endured students walking past their homes and occasionally destroying mailboxes, sports equipment, cars, flowers and numerous other personal property. This vandalism will increase more than 100% with a structure intended to house this many students.
3. Safety: The supervision of 400+ young adults cannot be adequately administered with one or two security guards. Nor can the drinking be controlled.
4. Noise: The noise level increase incurred by this many new residents is not consistent with the quiet residential/rural neighborhood.
5. Property Value Depreciation: The worth of the homes in this neighborhood will be devalued.
6. Water and Sewage Intake and Removal: Ontario Heights residents are particularly concerned about the burden this may impose upon the small community.
7. Environmental Concerns: This includes pollution (noise, air and garbage), trash removal and water drainage. Also of concern is the impact that disturbing a potential 21 acre of land will have on the wildlife in habitation.
The developers stated they do not want to intrude into a neighborhoods lifestyle. We the residents of Oswego Town feel this proposed project will dramatically change the nature and character of the surrounding neighborhood. We ask that you reject the proposal by United Group of Companies, Inc. (United Development Corporation) and Einhorn Yaffee Prescott Architect & Engineering
The Residents and Taxpayers of the Town of Oswego"
Speaking of the traffic problems, I may have to change my pattern of how I drive to and from places. She said when she went around with the petition, every one had a story to tell her. She is concerned about Friday nights with the partying. We had a young lady here last week, who was in an accident, and it took 2 hours for the Sheriff's Department to come to the scene. There was a man who spoke about a party on Johnson Road, at a house where 18 students were housed. The cars were parked more than a half mile on either side of the road. As to wildlife, Ann Kirk spoke that when they built the United Methodist Church, and they took the woods out, that she couldn't even sit on her porch because a fox was out on it. The majority of the people who signed this petition are from Johnson Road, Ontario Heights and Thompson Road.
As to the Archaeological Resources, I agree with the first two examples probably don't apply. If the site is an archaeological area, it may require an archaeological study before it can be approved. It is on the web site 24 hours a day. The other thing she wanted to mention was the economic impact for the town. A lot of people don't realize in construction, for every dollar of tax money paid, $1.30 in service is used, and is a net decrease in the amount of money you get from residential development. That's because of the increase in cost of maintaining highways, the increase in services that need to be provided for fire, and other services - maintenance of water mains, and sewer mains. So there will be an economic cost to the town.
In reference to the improvements to 104 - there is a big project in the works to widen 104. It was supposed to be scheduled for this year - it is now scheduled for 2010. It will start at the city line - County Route 7, and 104 and going out to Ontario Orchards - 104 and 104A. They are going to work on the Scriba end of it this summer. It has been a year and a half to get them to do the patching of 104.
He pointed to the drawings, and said as far as traffic in this area, it has probably been an ongoing problem for the past 40 years, whether we do this project or not.
When the college opened up the entrance to Snigg Hall, to Washington Blvd., that is when the problems on Baylis Street began. The problems didn't exist until the college opened up that parking lot.
When they put the 4 lanes down to 2 lanes, That's where that problem started.
He said he measured from their property down some 200 feet. The four lanes of highway going to Baylis is 82 feet. There will be 400 students walking, driving or riding a bicycle, and going across 82 feet across the highway. There are trucks going through there 24-7. There are no sidewalks on the East side. Some of the students will be drunk. And in the winter when there is 10 feet of snow, it doesn't work. Someone will get killed crossing that road.
He said he is a life long resident of the Town of Oswego, and he has a prepared statement:
"It is the intent of the legislature that all agencies conduct their affairs with an awareness that they are stewards of the air, water, land and living resources, and that they have an obligation to protect the environment for the use and enjoyment of this and all future generations."
With these noble words and this solemn command the State Legislature described the responsibility that this Board must exercise toward the environment that we all must live in.
The State Environmental Quality Review regulations that you must deal with provide a framework within which you must exercise that solemn responsibility. That framework is designed to compel appropriate consideration of the many factors that must be analyzed prior to consenting to allow a project to proceed.
The environmental issues that a particular project creates must be analyzed in light of the setting in which they will occur.
The project before you tonight would be analyzed quite differently if it were being proposed in the middle of Manhattan. In the middle of Manhattan a project of this magnitude would be barely noticed. In the Town of Oswego however, it is quite another thing. To our Town, this project is huge.
The SEQR regulations describe a Type 1 Action as a project which carries a presumption that is likely to have a significant adverse environmental impact. 6NYCRR, part 617.4(b)(10) says that building more than 62 residential units substantially contiguous to any publicly owned recreation area is a Type 1 Action. This project proposes 177 unites directly across Route 7 from the athletic fields. This project is almost three times greater than the Type I threshold.
As lead agency you are faced with a preliminary determination. Do you issue a Negative Declaration and tell he world that this project will not have an adverse environmental impact even though it is a Type I Action, or do you issue a Positive Declaration and tell he world that before you allow this project to proceed you ant to thoroughly analyze its potential efforts on the environment.
The regulations demand a Positive Declaration. The facts demand a Positive Declaration. But most importantly, your obligation "As stewards of the air, water, land and living resources" demands that you issue a Positive Declaration.
As a community we ask that you do the right thing. Require the preparation of a draft Environmental Impact Statement so that this and future generations will look back on your decision tonight and be able to say that the Oswego Planning Board did what was bet for everyone.
There are a lot of people here that are concerned about the traffic, but there are other issues here as well. He has businesses in Oswego, and also has rental units in Oswego Town. You had brought up the impact of employment, as to how it would affect people. If this project is built, there will probably be about 400 rental houses that are taken off the market. He is concerned how it will affect businesses in Oswego. The money that this project will generate, isn't going to stay here. The money that these rental houses generate will stay right here. How will this change Oswego and Oswego Town. At the first meeting, he asked the gentleman over there if he is applying for a PILOT, and he said no, and actually he has. It hasn't been determined yet.
She asked who is doing the traffic study, and Jeff said United Group. She was thinking, is this person a friend of United Group. We just want legitimacy. Jeff said if they are a qualified licensed firm, we have to accept their credentials. But we still have to listen to it and understand what they have to say.
He thanks the Board for being considerate and has an open mind. He also said he does not see a demand for the project.
At approximately 9:45 PM, Lee Phillips made a motion to adjourn the meeting. Judy Watson seconded the motion. All ayes. Motion carried.
Secretary to Planning Board