- By Dan Veaner
Village Trustees heard a presentation Monday on Lansing Village Cottages, a proposed development that could eventually bring 107 rental cottages, arranged in pocket neighborhoods surrounding small parks on 40 acres of property that was originally slated to house the next phase of Millcroft Homes. If approved, the development will be developed by Beer Properties, LLC, a local family-owned business that has several properties around Ithaca catering largely to students. But David beer said the new development would target 55+ year-olds who want to downsize, and live in neighborhoods designed for residents to interact around a common park area.
"We came up with this idea of developing pocket neighborhoods mostly because of my interest after seeing them in our area and other parts of the country," said David Beer. "Bruno Schickle's Boiceville Cottages is similar, but different. They aren't focused on pocket parks like our development is. But you can go out there and get a feel for this kind of density, because density there with one and two bedroom cottages is part of what we're proposing."
Last week Beer and his father Steven gave the same presentation to the Planning Board, saying that they would like to be granted a Planned Development area (PDA) that would allow closer spacing between the cottages than allowed by current zoning.
But residents of Millcroft Way jammed into Lansing Village Hall Monday to protest, saying that they had purchased their properties under the conditions of a covenant with the developer of Millcroft Homes, who now proposes to see the land to the Beers. They claimed they never would have bought properties in the neighborhood if they had known about the cottage project, arguing that the bought their own properties under the 'Millcroft Covenant, a document that laid out the conditions for purchasing land that included larger lots and a minimum sized home that would guarantee a low-traffic neighborhood where their children could safely play.
"This is a really significant change in that regard," said one disappointed resident. "And a breach of faith."
Homes built on the Millcroft development were required to be 2,500 square feet or larger, with some as big as 4,500 square feet. The Beers said their cottages will be between 800 and 1,000 square feet, each with a driveway and a one car garage. Front porches will face on pocket parks to foster a close neighborhood feeling, with plenty of green space and plantings. While the density will be far greater than that on Millcroft Way, Steven Beer said that because of vast green space in the proposed plan, there would only be 20 or so more homes on the property than are allowed under the current medium density zoning that applies to the land.
The plan calls for nine pocket neighborhoods totaling 107 units. Phase one of the development would include the first two neighborhoods on the west side of the property, on the north side of Craft Road, totaling 24 cottages. A community club house and indoor swimming pool are among the amenities planned.
The Board of Trustees will made a determination on whether to grant the PDA, with recommendations from the Planning Board.
"The original development was laid out with considerably larger lot sizes, partly because there was no sewer available, so it had to have septic systems," said Mayor Donald Hartill. "That meant minimum lot sizes of 60,000 square feet. I think that was the original plan. People bought into that kind of plan with that kind of lot size. There are both sides to the question so it has to be very carefully considered."