Jun 12, 2014 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
The village board last week took its first official step to attempt to redevelop — once again — the currently vacant municipal land on Riverside Drive behind the Cazenovia Public Library by tasking the village’s professional planner to create a development plan and detailed map of the area.
“Part of what’s driving this is that we’ve done interim improvements with parking [behind the library] but we’ve had feedback that we need a more permanent solution,” said Mayor Kurt Wheeler. “The key is to right-size the proposal and not do too much.”
From 2008 to 2012, the village board had discussed the possible creation of a medical center/senior apartment complex on the Riverside Drive municipal land. The project ultimately failed to materialize after St. Joseph’s Hospital decided to put plans on hold in order to focus on expanding its facility in the Atwell Mill Annex.
Plans to revisit the redevelopment of Riverside Drive were intended to be broached by the village board towards the end of 2014, but the discussions concerning rezoning for Eric Burrell’s office building at 4 Chenango St. in order to relocate the restaurant Circa there — which neighbors opposed and Burrell ultimately withdrew his rezoning application — prompted the timeline to be brought forward, Wheeler said. The village board saw the situation as an “opportunity to review the whole corridor more holistically,” according to a board statement in May. “[Burrell’s] separate request for a zone change to Planned Development [PD] for [his] parcel has been tabled in favor of consideration as part of a larger PD zone including the village-owned parcel behind the library and others parcels to be determined during the process.”
The village board had scheduled a public hearing on Burrell’s zone change request to precede its June 2 regular monthly meeting, but when Burrell withdrew his application, the board announced instead that it would use the hearing time to discuss the broader planning process for the Riverside Drive/Chittenango Creek corridor.
During the public hearing, resident Jack Rooney said redeveloping Riverside Drive would have significant benefits to the community, but the property has “significant problems,” because it is on a flood plain, it is a brownfield site, it has steep slope, there are easements on the property and the library has specific parking requirements that must be respected.
Wheeler said there already has been “a lot of research and analysis” of the Riverside Drive area from the previous development attempt, but all of that will be taken into consideration. He said already has initiated consultations with the village’s professional planner, Dan Kwasnowski of Applied Planning, and with the county planning department.
Kwasnowski, who worked for the village on the Village Edge South zoning regulations and design guidelines, was at the June 2 meeting and said he propose to do a study on how to “move forward and pull together” a potential development plan and detailed map that includes the various characteristics of the land including the creek, the dam, the parking and the eventual buildings.
“It should fit into the character of the village,” he said.
Kwasnowski also suggested the board get input from the community and hold at least two public meetings.
Board members unanimously agreed to have Kwasnowski review the Riverside Drive project and create a map and proposed development plan. They also scheduled a special meeting to focus solely on the Riverside Drive redevelopment project for 7 p.m. Thursday, June 19, in the board meeting room of the municipal office.
Also at the meeting, the board:
—Held a public hearing on the proposed implementation of the state’s “certified local government program,” which recognizes communities that have an established historic preservation process. One of the main effects of being certified in the program for the village would be that certain responsibilities for historic preservation would be shifted from the village planning board to the village historic preservation committee, which is expected to streamline the historic preservation planning and zoning process. The board expects to vote on the program’s final approval at its July 7 meeting. The proposal draft can be found on the village website at villageofcazenovia.com, under the “Planning and Zoning” tab.
—Approved the hiring of three part-time and one full-time police officer to the Cazenovia Village Police Department. The full-time officer, Jeffrey Watkins, was already a part-time officer on the CPD and has 11 years of experience working in county law enforcement.
—Announced that Lakeland Park now has four new picnic tables for public use, and that the public swimming area may need an extra lifeguard and a greater emphasis on no swimming when no lifeguards are present this summer, as the result of the state health department standards.
—Announced that its annual reorganizational meeting will be held at 7 p.m. Monday, July 7, in the board meeting room of the Village Municipal Office Building.
—Reminded residents that the annual Fourth of July parade starts at 1 p.m. with the parade line forming at 12:30 p.m.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 434-8889 ext. 335.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.