sewer2012_120About 20 people came to the Lansing Town Hall Tuesday see a presentation and ask questions about a proposed sewer district.  Sewer Committee members made a presentation and solicited questions, especially from residents who live within the proposed sewer district.  The meeting attracted about half the number of people an August meeting did.  Committee members made their case for why sewer is necessary in Lansing.  Councilwoman Andra Benson moderated.

"Geographically the Town of Lansing is quite similar to what the Town of Ithaca was forty years ago," said Sewer Committee member Noel Desch, who is a former Town of Ithaca Supervisor.  "Geographically the Town of Ithaca surrounded the city.  There was a natural potential development area.  If we didn't get public sewer in some of those areas you'd have much bigger lots.  You'd have suburban sprawl and it would chew up a lot of land.  Now is the time for the Town of Lansing to seriously look at public sewer."

Residents asked about the cost per household and whether they would be required to hook up.  One asked whether the sewer would interfere with existing water lines, and another whether the Town will bring hookup points to residents' properties or whether residents would have to pay to do that. 

Better Housing for Tompkins County Executive Director John Spence was on hand to talk about two proposed senior housing projects that are currently negotiating to purchase town-owned land in the town center area.  One, an affordable senior cottage project, would be managed by Better Housing, which has partnered with the developer NRP Group.  Spence said he has researched grants to help families hook up to sewer.  CDBG grants look promising.  He said that the possibility of obtaining grants from Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG/U.S. - HUD) look promising.

"Promoting planned density in the Town Center area is important," said committee member Andy Sciarabba.  "Right now we've experienced rural areas using frontage for housing on parcels that should not be removed from open space.  Trying to concentrate that development in a town center area is part of the comprehensive plan the Town has set out.  it is also part of the County's comprehensive plan."

Some community members asked whether the two projects with a total of 190 units could be filled in the current market.  Councilman Ed LaVigne says that the 'baby boomer' generation is aging and wealthy, and looking for homes in developments like the ones proposed.  Spence says he thinks demand for the cottage style homes will be high.

Sciarabba says the two projects are critical to bring up the number of Equivalent Dwelling Units (EDUs) needed to make the sewer viable, which, in turn, will make the possibility of a town center viable.  Sciarabba said that townspeople's desire to have a village-like main street and shopping area relies on creating enough residential development to support businesses.

"In order for us to have things like a pharmacy, some doctors' offices, a coffee shop, places where we can gather, we need density of residential development here," he said.  "That's critical to us.  You need the bodies to support businesses."

Wednesday the committee met to talk about how the meeting went.  Councilwoman Ruth Hopkins attended with a list of questions about estimated growth.  She questioned the numbers the committee has been working with that predict 50 new EDUs in the district each year for the first four years, and ten in future years.  While Desch said the numbers are conservative based on his experience in the Town of Ithaca, Sciarabba said he would be willing to provide Hopkins with more modest calculations.

Tuesday was the second formal public information presentation the Sewer Committee has hosted.  They also had a booth at the Lansing Harbor festival and are planning an open house at the Lansing Town Hall on Saturday, October 13 from 10:30 to 12:30.  Residents within the proposed district will receive a postcard inviting them to the open house where they can talk to committee members face to face and see maps and plans for the project.  All Lansing residents will be welcome.