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Residents disapprove of building projects   ADVERTISEMENT

Residents disapprove of building projects

WATKINS GLEN—Watkins Glen residents and the village planning board expressed issues and objections to two separate projects during the Wednesday, June 19, board meeting.
Nearly 25 people attended, including residents opposed to the proposals. The first was the 28 unit Seneca Terrace apartment complex.  Developers want to construct apartments overlooking Route 14, between Bath and Partition Streets. Plans originally had entrances to the property from Partition and Monroe Streets. Changes presented at the meeting included adding an access point from Route 14.
However planning board member Tom Merrill said the additional entrance doesn’t address the safety concerns. He added the board wanted the Route 14 entrance to replace the other two, not be in addition to them.  Project representative Ted Lauve said he thought the concern was more about reducing traffic on the side streets, which he said the third entrance would do.
The board’s other concerns included the steep angle of the entrances.  The two representatives were asked if site could be lowered and to consider reducing the number of units.  Merrill asked for a redesign of the plan.
“I’m not in favor of what you’re doing,” said Merrill.
Board member Amedeo Fraboni said his safety concerns are “no way near settled.”  He said the fire department needs to be able to access the property and all of the units.  Not all of the apartments are connected to the three different entrances in the new plan.
Charles Guttman, the other project representative, said the Watkins Glen fire department did not have issues with the original plan.  The board asked to have the department’s comments in writing.  The representatives were also asked to respond to a letter from HUNT Engineers concerning the project.  The report says the project needs additional soil erosion protection due to the property’s steepness, a lighting plan, and review the impacts to the nearby hydrants.  It adds the driveways may be too steep according to current standards.
Residents and the planning board also had issues with Dunkin Donuts’ proposal to demolish a house located directly to the north of the business.    Dunkin Donuts is proposing to turn the lot into more parking.  Tom Dobrydney, Fagan Engineers planner and Dunkin Donuts representative, said the owners expect to close on the sale by the end of the month.
Board President Joseph Fazzary said one of the big issues was that the comprehensive plan forbids demolition of buildings on Franklin Street.  However, the village hasn’t enacted any zoning laws to enforce it in this part of Watkins yet.  Fazzary added the board will see how far Dunkin Donuts pushes the issue.  Fraboni said he was going to follow the comprehensive plan, which several audience members applauded.
“I have a good basis to hold you to the comprehensive plan,” said Fazzary.
Dobrydney indicated the application was submitted before any demolition permits were created by the village.  He said he was just trying to propose a project that falls within Watkins’ existing laws.  The board also asked Dobrydney to provide information to verify Dunkin Donuts’ need for more parking.
Resident Liam O’Kane presented the board with a petition with 304 electronic and written signatures opposing the expansion.  He read a letter to the editor he wrote that appeared in the June 19 edition of The REVIEW&EXPRESS.  O’Kane said the future of Watkins depends on families and for people having places to live.
The planning board made no decisions.  Both projects will appear before the board again at next month’s meeting, Wednesday, July 17, at 7 p.m.




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