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Joshua Thomas
Clockwise, from left: Planning Board Chair Tracy Robbins, Trustee Dennis Dopp, Mayor James Post, Trustee Susan Barker and Planning Board Member Carol Shineman.


Palatine Bridge officials support concept of complex

Wednesday, December 04, 2013 - Updated: 8:22 AM


C-S-E Editor

PALATINE BRIDGE -- Village officials on Monday agreed to support -- in concept -- the development of a low-income apartment complex on the east end of Carmen Court.

The decision -- which doesn't commit the village to anything -- came during a joint meeting of the board of trustees and the planning board and after several concerns were raised about the 40-unit complex.

About 30 residents attended Monday's meeting, many expressing concerns with the proposed construction project, which would see the apartment facility built in a commercially zoned area with allowances for such living facilities.

Palatine Bridge Mayor James Post said that many of the concerns of the public — which included increased area traffic, the effect on property values, whether the facility would potentially affect taxes, longevity of the unit and the quality of potential inhabitants --have been discussed with the developer, Roger Brandt, of Rochester Cornerstone Group, Ltd.

"We have looked at this -- we have talked about it," Post said. The mayor pointed out that the project has been discussed for months at village meetings which have been largely unattended by members of the public.

Aside from attending village board meetings, Brandt has also attended Palatine Town Board (the taxable authority) meetings for months specifically to seek approval for a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) program which, if achieved, would have put $23,000 a year into the county, town, village and school district.

Since the issue was tabled twice by the town board, Brandt withdrew the request, instead seeking a 581 tax exemption, which would allow approximately $18,400 to be split between the four aforementioned entities.

Planning board chair Tracy Robbins said Brandt has been forthcoming and willing to answer all questions, though Post noted there are still questions to be asked and answered regarding the project, which, if it progresses smoothly, would see construction taking place no sooner than September 2014.

Robbins said that many of the questions posed by the board, including whether the developer is willing to provide a second entryway to the apartment facility, don't have easy answers, which is the reason why some answers haven't yet been supplied.

Resident Ronald Limoncelli asked the board why officials would consider granting a building permit and whether they have "looked down the road" at issues such as increased traffic flow and the necessity of additional fire and law enforcement protection.

"I see no vision here. I see no planning here," Limoncelli said.

"It's interesting, and I think it's a benefit to the community that we have people come and look at us and settle on the village of Palatine Bridge. I think the village of Palatine must have something to offer, and I think that's a positive thing," Post replied.

Numerous members of the public issued worry over the fact that the facility would house low income residents. Six of the units would be paid for by St. Johns-ville Housing Facility vouchers, and up to 20 would possibly be rented to senior citizens.

A Carmen Court resident worried that residents would cross his property to access the apartment complex.

At one point, a resident asked all supporters of the project to raise their hands. No hands went up, yet when the resident asked to see hands of those against the project, a majority -- if not all --residents raised them.

While the issue was repeatedly raised by residents about the potential quality of tenants inhabiting the facility, Post said the maximum income level would be "50,000 some dollars."

Post said that many local and county residents earn less than that amount, and the fact that a resident is low income, "doesn't mean they're bad people."

Post stated that the board has "to be very careful" with their decisions regarding the project. If the board were to judge by the "emotions in the room" and deny the project outright, Post said "the developer has some recourse," as the Montgomery County Office of the Aging-owned parcel is zoned for the construction of such structures.

Post cited a similar project in Gloversville, that, after being denied by the local council and planning board, still moved forward. The developer sued the entities that denied them the right to build in an appropriately zoned area, and the facility is now operational.

Post said that Rochester Cornerstone Group has an early December deadline to file a grant application for project funding. The firm has informed the board that it will have a good idea in February or March if the application was, or will be, approved. Even if the project is approved at that level, developers would still have much to discuss with the village counsel, including issues that have been discussed and others that still need to be addressed, Post said.

Currently, the village of Palatine Bridge has not signed anything, and "to my knowledge," Post said, the OFA has not signed a land sale agreement with the project developer. The company would be required to perform an environmental impact review and other environmental, historical, habitat, traffic, pedestrian and general area impact studies before starting construction.

Before adjourning the meeting, Post made a motion "to entertain or support the conceptual plans for a low income housing apartment," in the words of attorney Kenneth Ayers, which was seconded by Trustee Susan Barker and approved by Trustee Dennis Dopp. Trustee Kurt Garrison was absent.


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