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Lansing Meadows

With the building season already upon us, Developer Eric Goetzmann, of Arrowhead Ventures, was before the Village of Lansing planning Board again to ask for new changes to the Lansing Meadows PDA (Planned Development Area) that will provide housing for people 55 and over off of Oakcrest Road.  The development is part of the same PDA that the BJ's Wholesale Club building was built, and was a condition of the PDA the Planning Board wanted to provide a gradual transition from the high density commercial area in the Village to residential neighborhoods north of the mall.

"We have three changes.  The first change is that the road is now a one way road," Goetzmann said.  "The second item that we have is a change to duplexes to triplexes.  If you look at that plan it has almost the same footprint.  The third thing is that we're going to build these to 'Town House' code, which means in the future if we can't rent them we'll be able to sell them."

Nearly a decade ago the original plan called 12 senior housing rental units, a wetlands, bird sanctuary, and a buffer of trees that would create a gradual segue between the high traffic commercial zoning at the mall and residential areas to the north of the Oakcrest Road property.  The Planning Board reluctantly went along with Goetzmann's request to rezone about 20% of the property (known as 'Area A') for commercial use so that he could build a small 'amenity' such as a coffee shop or sandwich shop that residents and YMCA users could walk to.  But a parade of design changes tried planning board members' tempers as Goetzmann attempted to increase the number of units at the expense of the 'cottage-like neighborhood' feel the original plan proposed.

Almost a year ago The Planning Board accepted a final plan that would include 20 apartments in ten buildings, with a two way loop road connecting the project to Oakcrest Road.  But tension between the Planning Board and Goetzmann became severe due to delays and a stream of new plans that diverged from the 12-bungalo plan the Board had originally approved, one of which proposed a three story apartment building that was nothing like the original plan.

The new plan proposes the same ten buildings, with slightly smaller apartments, three to a building.  Construction Manager Jim Bold said the two end units in each building  will be 1252 square feet with a 395 square foot garage.  The center unit will be 1114 square feet with a 251 square foot garage.  The road will be one-way, allowing it to be narrower yet still meet Village specifications and allowing on-street parking that the currently approved plan does not have room for.  Bold said that the outsides of all the buildings will be completed in addition to the interiors of the first four units, after which the remaining interiors will be finished.

"With the changes to the triplex we have the exact same configuration of the buildings," Goetzmann said. "We now have two of the units will have two car garages, and the other will have one, and there will be on-street parking."

There was some back and forth discussion about which units will go up first.  Goetzmann and Bold want to build the units on the north side of the project road first, which would present the backs of the buildings to the road.  Planning Board members advocated building the units on the south side first, because they would present a nicer view to Oakcrest Road passes-by in case the project is never finished.  Code Enforcement/Zoning Officer Mike Scott said the developer's approach does make sense.

"If you look at the topography of the building site, it slopes away from the road," said Scott. "If you were to start on the back side of the lower section you're risking the second phase, so to speak, the front section being uphill.  If you have heavy rain the runoff is going to run down to the places that are already done.  So I see that as a legitimate concern."

Last year the Planning Board imposed strict start and completion dates on the project, fearing there would be more delays, or that the project would never be built.  Goetzmann met the start deadline of July 31st, 2018, but not much has been accomplished besides moving some dirt around.  The Planning Board gave him two years to complete the project, which means he has just over a year left.

If the Board determines that the new changes constitute 'minor changes' to the PDA, Goetzmann will be able to begin construction almost immediately.  But a determination of 'major changes' could delay the project for months, and even push it past the completion date the Planning Board demanded in the conditions of the PDA approved last June.

"Based on the history, we started with 12, now we're at 30," complained Planning Board Chairwoman Lisa Schleelein. "We didn't want more than 12 cottages initially, and here we are.  It's been a long nine years, a very long nine years, and I want everyone here to be thinking about what protections for the Village we need to be building into the request for these 'minor changes'."

Board members said that they do not want to permit any construction on 'Area A' until the housing units are completely finished. 

The Board may vote on whether the changes are to be considered minor or major at its next meeting on May 13th.

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