Village planners voted 3-1 to issue a “negative declaration” on the 42-unit Country Meadows affordable housing project proposed for North St.
The declaration, issued at the June 11 meeting, means a majority of Planning Board members do not believe the proposed development will have a “significant effect on the environment,” as part of the state’s Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).
Board member Mary Leahy, who cast the lone “no” vote, said she did so because she does believe the planned 43-unit rental project will have a negative impact on the “character” of the village.
Referring to the town and village Comprehensive Plan, Leahy said the plan says there should be a mixture of rental units and owner-occupied units, with more owner-occupied units than rental units.
Leahy said it seems more rental units are being created and the village is quickly “hitting a tipping point,” where rental units will soon outnumber owner-occupied units. This will change the character of the village, something she does not want to see happen.
“We need more industry for jobs,” Leahy said, “not more rental units. This site is in an industrial zone.”
This is the fourth application to build rental housing on the site the developer has brought before the Planning Board. All previous applications have been approved. The reason that has not resulted in anything being built is the developer is seeking state subsidies, which are doled out once a year, and each time it has been denied. Developers need to renew their approval with the village each year.
To try and improve the chances of getting state money this round, the developer has changed the rental unit mixture from all senior units with the first project to a mixture of senior and workforce housing with this one. The new plan has been downsized to 42 units with 23 “working family” units and 18 senior citizen age-restricted units. Eight units will be set aside for those with special needs. Premier is working with the Anderson Autism Center to bring autistic individuals into the development.
Veterans 55 years of age and older will get first dibs on the senior units.
Premier will be back before the Planning Board on July 9 for a special-use permit to build rental housing units in an industrial zone and for site plan approvals.
Leahy has promised to vote against both the use permit application and the site plan application when they come up for a vote.