- By Dan Veaner
"It was a larger project," Buhl says. "It was 144 units, and we downsized the project to 102 units on less acreage. We even had single family homes in the first iteration. Now it's an apartment project as opposed to the condominium project it was. "
While a public hearing on the project had been kept open from an earlier Planning Board meeting, no residents spoke up on Monday. With no further comments the board closed the public hearing and proceeded to consider environmental impacts and the site plan itself.
The project has long had neighbors concerned, especially about additional traffic. But a recent traffic analysis showed that area of Triphammer Road is only at 65% capacity and the project would raise it another 5%, well within the projected capacity of the road. The developer says a traffic study has shown that when the entire project is completed it will only impact traffic by 50 additional cars in the peak driving hour.
The Planning Board painstakingly considered a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR), then voted to declare the project will have a negative impact. They then considered the site plan. Major discussion centered around the developer's obligation to build a partial road that would go nowhere at first. If another developer builds on the property to the west of Cayuga Farms, the road would be a pass-through between the projects, effectively connecting Triphammer Road and East Shore Drive.
Buhl said the developer agrees to build a rough graded road as far as it goes on their property, but said it would be an unreasonable burden to force the developer to finish the road with blacktop since there is no guarantee that it will ever lead to another development. After much discussion board members agreed, and passed the project with a dozen conditions, including the partial construction of the road, which will be deeded to the Town.
With Monday's actions the project has passed two of three major hurdles. The third has always been a significant part of the project in all the versions proposed over the past half dozen years: sewer. Years ago the developers said that municipal sewer would be a deal-breaker -- no municipal sewer, no Cayuga Farms.
However, the current project proposes a modular package plant, in essence a mini-sewer treatment plant. But as Town Attorney Guy Krogh pointed out Monday, the nearby Lansing Commons development's package plant proposal was rejected by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DC), forcing that developer to rethink his project in terms of a normal sub-development with individual septic systems.
Buhl says the modular design is a newer technology that the DEC has favored. The project is planned in phases, which will mean that sewage modules can be installed as they are needed. And Buhl says the modules are not necessarily a permanent solution. If the plant is denied, there is a fallback plan that would require extending public sewer up Triphammer Road from the Village of Lansing, a plan that has not been favored by the Village in the past.
"We'd have to go back to a public sewer option," Buhl says. "But what we're trying to do -- and this is an innovative technology that is acceptable to the DEC -- is to use a package plant that is modularized so it can grow as the project grows. If public sewers eventually become available could then bypass it, take them out and resell these units for another project someplace else."
Buhl and Town Planning Consultant Michael Long said they have had little luck getting the DEC to consider the package plant, saying that the DEC official responsible for evaluating the project is not currently reachable.