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Lansing Meadows

Construction on the Lansing Meadows development has been progressing through the winter.  The senior (55 and up) housing project, a condition of the Planned Development Area (PDA) that Village of Lansing officials stipulated when they approved the construction of BJ's Wholesale Club, will include 18 townhouses in six buildings.  Arrowhead Ventures Developer Eric Goetzmann and Construction Manager Jim Bold were at the Village trustees meeting Monday to request what they characterized as a minor adjustment to the PDA that would subdivide the property into 18 lots that would enable them to sell the townhouses, rather than rent them as originally planned.

"We're here to request an amendment to the Lansing Meadows PDA allows us to subdivide the parcel and sell off individual townhouses," Bold said.  "We feel that selling the properties would be beneficial to both the village and to the developer in terms of a longer term strategy for home ownership here in the Village of Lansing.  The modification that we're requesting is basically lot size and frontage on a private road. Those are the only two things that would be changed, frontage and lot size.  It's still senior housing.  A certain percentage has to be rented to people 55 and over. So nothing would be different."

Lansing MeadowsThe rear of the Lansing Meadows development abuts the BJ's Wholesale Club parking lot (left). At right the second triplex is being framed, and a concrete slab for a third building (right foreground) has been poured.

After nine years of seeking approval for the project, the Village approved the current plan last June.  The plan proposes six buildings, with three townhouses to a building.  If approved the change will allow smaller than usual lot sizes and roadway frontages because the townhouses would each have a different owner, but are physically attached.

The two end units in each building will be about 1252 square feet with a two-car garage.  The center unit will be slightly smaller, at 1114 square feet with a one-car garage, and would have a smaller area lot size than the end units.  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.

Lansing MeadowsEach triplex has two end units with two-car garages, plus a slightly smaller middle unit with a one-car garage.

Mayor Donald Hartill was among Trustees who said they want a written statement from the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency (IDA) saying that making the units for sale, rather than rented, would not impact tax incentives PILOT Incremental Financing (PIF) worth up to $2,321,000 of Recovery Zone Facility Bonds.  Hartill said he is concerned that financing for the project not be put in jeopardy.

"I think one of the things that you certainly need is either a letter or a statement from the County saying that this is okay in terms of your agreement, in terms of the deferred tax business and all that," Hartill said.

The other major concern was enforcing the 55 or older rule when each unit is individually owned.  Trustees worried that even if Arrowhead makes the initial sales to elders, that future buyers may not meet the minimum age desired by the Village.  Bold said that the rule would be enforced by deed restrictions and by a Homeowner's Association (HOA).  But Trustee John O'Neill said that the way deed restrictions are enforced is by suing an owner who doesn't adhere to them, causing neighbors to sue neighbors.  Deputy Mayor Ronny Hardaway said that such lawsuits might raise HOA dues so high that some residents wouldn't be able to afford to continue to live there.

"An HOA enforces local properties because they live there and are much stricter than an absentee landlord," Goetzmann said.  "There's always one or two people who are on top of everyone. So an HOA is actually a better thing than having rental units."

Trustee Randy Smith noted there are a number of HOAs already within the Village that have been successfully operating for years.

"There are two different homeowner's associations behind Shannon Park, behind the mall parking lot," Smith said. "There's a president and there's a treasurer. One's been going on since 1989."

Lansing MeadowsFraming and roofing on the second unit was being constructed this week.

The developers and the Village have agreed on a completion deadline of July 31st of this year.  Bold says that all six buildings will be built, with 12 of the units (four buildings) completed.  The remaining interiors will be completed later.  As of this writing the second building is being framed, and a concrete slab has been poured for a third triplex.

Bold asked whether the revisions could simply be written into the existing PDA with changes agreed upon by initialling the document, and whether the change needs to be scrutinized by the Planning Board.  Planning Board. After consulting with Village Attorney William Troy Hartill said it would be OK, but the Trustees will not decide on that or whether to bring it back to the Planning Board without a written draft of the changes submitted by the developer's attorney plus a letter from Tompkins County certifying that the PIF will not be impacted by subdividing the lots and selling the townhouses.

The next Trustee meeting at which the changes might be approved is February 3rd.

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