A pair of projects brought by developers to the Town of Hamburg Planning Board were met by various oppositions and reservations from residents, who expressed the sentiments during last Wednesday’s (Dec. 19) meeting of the planning board.
Statements were made during public hearings regarding the two projects on the table, which include a proposed two-lot subdivision encompassing vacant land at the end of Woodland Drive, as well as the would-be Sherwood Meadows Apartment complex on the property located east of Heatherwood Drive. Planning board officials reminded those in attendance that developers must address relevant concerns and potential quality of life issues as part of the projects’ due diligence. It was also stated that both proposed projects are still in early stages, needing, among other items, site plan applications and engineer-outlined site plans.
The first public hearing included a pair of individuals who live on Woodland Drive adamantly stating the threat of surface water infiltrating their properties from a possible two lot split subdivision that would be installed at the end of the vacant, wetland-heavy area of Woodland Drive. Described as a uniquely located property near the end of a dedicated highway, the subdivision was said to require a 100-foot variance to accommodate the lack of had required frontage, for the purpose of splitting into two parcels. Although described as being atypical for containing a “lot of mend,” the second parcel is not expected to have a structure built upon it.
The project applicant had stated that one of his parcel properties, located mainly within the Town of Boston, had been cited for committing a minor infraction upon a wetland area, with a resulting fine paid. The house structure, said to expand to a minimum amount upon a Town of Hamburg parcel, also sits near a wooded area stated to act as a buffer zone. Town Planning Board Chairman Peter Reszka read a memorandum from the town’s conservation board that states a project approval would include a second buffer to the existing wetland area in the case of another, potential environmental violation. Thus, remaining project choices were said to include either joining the two parcels into a single entity, or taking into account information from the state Department of Environmental Conservation and town conservation board and letting the two parcels split, with the second lot being a non-buildable site.
Woodland Drive resident Don Larson, as well as another neighbor to the proposed project site, stated their belief that installing any structure in the wetland area would not help the surrounding area in any way. Larson, a 38-year property owner on Woodland, said it was his understanding that the DEC had not given an official approval for the project to move ahead. He added that backyards in the area are often flooded from water flowing from Eckerd Road, resulting from a lack of a sewer system. Larson said he didn’t believe any erected structure would fare in an adequate manner for itself, and would not quell nearby properties from being hit by the spread of water.
“I feel bad for the person who buys the property,” said Larson. “I would like to invite anyone to walk around the (proposed project) property perimeter tomorrow…This is a crime, to (potentially) build a house there.”
The other neighboring resident stated that an existing construction fence around the property routinely falls over due to the unstable grounds area, adding that he had concerns regarding possible ingress vs. egress issues to his own property. The homeowner also said water flows from his property area to a nearby vacant area.
“It’s not buildable,” the Woodland Drive resident said of the property. “The place is a mess.”
Town Planning Consultant Drew Reilly said although no specific action is set in stone, it is unlikely that an additional home being built on the second, parcel would be OK’d. It was added that the Town of Hamburg Building Department and engineer deals with issues associated with the existing house on the first property parcel.
The project applicant was stated as having consulted the DEC and Army Corps of Engineers regarding establishment of a site plan for the property foundation, while being encouraged to have a drain installed to collect storm water. A rough drainage plan was also said to have been formulated.
The second public hearing was held in regards to the conversion of a townhouse project, including 56 existing units, to an apartment complex titled Sherwood Meadows that would encompass 128 apartment units, in the area east of Heatherwood Drive. The area, which is zoned R-3 to include apartments, duplexes, townhouses and other such amenities, would include an amended site plan, described by developer David Burke as “subsidizing existing units to apartments,” for the reason of current market rate trends. The proposed plan would include buildings that would contain eight and 16 units, some containing carport garages that would come with an accompanying extra fee. Rent for the proposed units was stated as costing between $850 to $1,000. Current rent for the existing townhouses is said to be between $1,500 and $1,800 per unit.
Many residents in attendance at the public hearing stated their concerns regarding what they believe would be a detrimental effect on traffic and quality of life in general if such a project conversion were approved. Charles Cox, who resides at 3728 Breckenridge Road, which is in close proximity to the project area, said additional vehicular traffic created from the installation of 256 parking spaces (two per proposed unit) in the complex would create a nightmarish scenario in which roads would be inundated with increased volume. The possibility, Cox added, also exists for an accident involving a vehicle and one or some of the many small children who regularly play outside in the area.
“(Installing a conversion plan involving apartments) is totally contrary to the neighborhood atmosphere that we have there now,” said Cox. The town planning board had in 2008 approved a plan to initially approve the installation of the aforementioned 56 townhouses.
Roundtree Road resident Ken Radens said he believes aesthetics would be negatively affected by the plan, also questioning the reputability of hypothetical renters moving into the area.
“Residents who now see green space out of their windows will now see something (quite different)…I don’t want riff raff moving in here,” said Radens.
Other local residents mentioned the already worn condition of the roads in the area, stating that increased traffic will hurt the street condition even more. Planning board officials stated that each legitimate concern brought by residents to the board regarding related issues such as traffic, road condition and other items must be addressed as part of the project, if the plan is even approved. A site plan application and engineering outline must still be formulated by the project applicant.
Another common lament of residents was in stating the many apartment complexes that already exist in a close radius to the project area within Hamburg. One woman suggested that filling apartment complexes that are not yet at full capacity should be a directive of officials before another complex is established.
Both matters discussed at last Wednesday’s planning board were officially tabled.