A number of residents appeared at Monday’s Clay Town Board meeting to speak out against a zone change proposal along Buckley Road.
Red Barn LLC and Farone and Sons Funeral Home are looking to change the zoning at 7353 Buckley Road and the surrounding parcels from R-10 One-Family Residential District to NC-1 Neighborhood Commercial District. They filed an application for a zone change, which was discussed at a public hearing on Monday, April 16 at the town board’s regular meeting. The issue was first discussed at the town board’s previous meeting on April 2. The two businesses are looking to turn the now-vacant parcel, which is comprised of approximately two acres, into a funeral home. Red Barn LLC owns the parcel, and Farone and Sons is looking to purchase it.
According to a letter from the Onondaga County Department of Transportation citing a traffic study conducted by an independent auditor, the change will have a minimal impact on traffic in the area.
Surveyor Hal Romans, speaking on behalf of the applicants, noted that Farone and Sons does have special duty sheriffs on site to direct traffic during a large funeral.
Romans said it was unlikely another business would ever take its place.
“If this goes in, it would probably stay there forever,” he said.
Town board member Robert Edick said he thought this was a good use for the property.
“I think the project fits there,” Edick said. “I think that’s a great opportunity for this piece of property. I know these residents didn’t want townhomes or several office buildings, but I think this addresses a lot of those concerns, especially if we can get those traffic concerns addressed.”
But residents of the surrounding neighborhoods disagreed.
Denise Murray of Waxwood Circle pointed out that the new Walgreens at the corner of Buckley and Taft would add more traffic.
“I kind of find it hard to believe that this will have minimal traffic impact,” Murray said. “It keeps adding up, little by little. We’re still concerned. It’s going to increase the traffic flow on our streets. Even though DOT says it’s okay, I beg to differ. It’s a valid concern.”
Murray wasn’t the only neighbor to express concerns about traffic. At least half a dozen others said they were concerned about the backup of cars along Buckley Road.
Michael Cosnick of Briarledge Road expressed concerns about the ability of emergency vehicles to get through a traffic backup.
“There are two or three senior citizens’ homes in the area,” Cosnick said. “Has the traffic study taken into account the response times of… emergency vehicles? For instance, in the event of a heart attack, everybody’s heard the commercials. It’s not minutes, it’s seconds. In the event of a backup, you could be dealing with people not making it because of the extra time.”
Attorney Robert Ventre, who represents Farone and Sons, said that the traffic created by the funeral home would not be enough to deny the zone change request.
“You have just put more commercial property on the border of the town of Salina than can possibly be put on the remainder of Buckley Road,” Ventre told the board. “That’s traffic, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You didn’t make a mistake; you did the right thing.”
Ventre noted that there was still development in the works further down Buckley Road in Salina, pointing out that the Salina Meadows project was still unfinished.
“What will change traffic is when traffic gets too much and people are slowed down, people will take Morgan Road,” he said. “They won’t come all the way down to Seventh North Street. You’ve been putting traffic on Buckley Road for years. This isn’t going to change anything. You can’t stop progress because the road can’t handle it.”
Romans said he would look into the traffic concerns and come back to the board with some answers.
Red Barn LLC had approached the board last summer to request a zone change from R-10 to O-2 Office District, looking to possibly build medical offices at the location. That request was denied when area residents balked at the proposal, again citing traffic concerns.
The public hearing was adjourned to 7:41 p.m. May 7.
In other business:
Morelandigans LLC, Jeffrey Ippolito and Mary Jane Ippolito are seeking a special permit for outdoor recreation with both spectators and participants for the existing Sharkey’s property, which sits on the border of the towns of Clay and Salina. The building and other parts of the parcel are in Clay, while part of the parking lot and the entrance are in Salina. The owners would like to add beach volleyball to the property, along with a deck and patio.
Hal Romans, again speaking on behalf of the applicants, said that Clay has the more stringent parking regulations of the two towns, so the applicants chose to adhere to Clay’s. The property will end up with 219 parking spaces. Romans will also be approaching the Salina Town Board for a similar permit.
“Whatever Salina’s doing, I want to do the opposite,” joked town board member Joseph Bick.
“He’s been here a while,” Romans said. “He’s been promoting beach volleyball as something that Sharkey’s does, and he’d like to expand it.”
Beach volleyball courts exist on the Salina side of the property, but Sharkey’s wanted to add more. Romans said he waited until the code in Clay changed so that he could be in compliance with the code before approaching the board.
The board will likely make a decision at the next meeting.
Sarah Hall is the editor of the Eagle Star-Review and the Baldwinsville Messenger. The 2012 winner of the Syracuse Press Club's Selwyn Kershaw Professional Standards Award, she has been with Eagle Newspapers since 2006. She is a Liverpool native.