West Seneca Planning Board Meeting Minutes 07/20/2005
Chairman Joseph Ciancio called the meeting to order at 7:30 P.M. followed by the Pledge to the Flag.
ROLL CALL: Present -
Robert Niederpruem Jr.
William P. Czuprynski, Code Enforcement Officer
Paul Notaro, Deputy Town Attorney
Absent - Michael Casciano
Chairman Ciancio read the Fire Prevention Code instructing the public where to exit in case of a fire or other emergency.
APPROVAL OF PROOFS OF PUBLICATION
Motion by Rathmann, seconded by Mendola, to approve the proofs of publication and posting of legal notice.
APPROVAL OF MINUTES
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Rathmann, to approve Minutes #2005-05 of May 18, 2005.
NEW BUSINESS COMMUNICATIONS
A request from Donald S. & Margaret E. Jablonski for a rezoning for property located at 3850 Seneca Street, being part of Lot No. 143, changing its classification from R-65A to C-1, for an insurance adjuster's office.
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Niederpruem, to open the public hearing.
Chairman Ciancio stated that along with the application the Planning Board had received a survey, a deed description, and a short environmental assessment form.
Donald Jablonski, 125 Whitney Place, Cheektowaga, stated that he would like to convert the first floor of the house at 3850 Seneca Street into a one-man insurance adjuster’s office. The office would be located on the first floor and the apartment on the second floor would remain an apartment. Mr. Jablonski stated that he would like to put up a sign, but there would be no changes made to the building. Five parking spaces would be provided at the rear of the building.
Mr. Nigro questioned if Mr. Jablonski intended to put up a fence on the east side of the property along the area where kids played on slides and swings next door.
Mr. Jablonski responded that there was a four-foot chain link fence in the back yard and he would consider putting up a fence along the side yard if required.
Mr. Mendola thought that a four-foot fence from the back property line to the house would provide some safety for the children playing in that yard. He was concerned about cars backing out of the parking spaces when they left the property and not seeing the kids playing behind them.
Mr. Jablonski stated that with this business he went to the scene of the loss and only rarely would someone come to his office.
Code Enforcement Officer William Czuprynski questioned if there was a day care center next to this location.
Mr. Jablonski was not aware of any day care center next door.
Mr. Greenan questioned if this would be Mr. Jablonski’s personal office or if he would be renting to someone.
Mr. Jablonski responded that this would be his personal office and the upstairs apartment would be rented.
Chairman Ciancio thought that a fence was a good idea and questioned if a fence was required under the zoning ordinance.
Mr. Czuprynski advised that a fence would be required on the side and also along the rear property line. Even though there was already a fence in the back yard, a solid fence would have to be installed. Mr. Czuprynski questioned if Mr. Jablonski planned to do anything with the adjacent property to the west that he also owned.
Mr. Jablonski stated that next spring he intended to apply for a permit to operate an ice cream stand on the adjacent property.
No comments were received from the public.
Motion by Mendola, seconded by Nigro, to close the public hearing.
Motion by Mendola, seconded by Niederpruem, to recommend approval of the request for a rezoning for property located at 3850 Seneca Street, being part of Lot No. 143, changing its classification from R-65A to C-1, for an insurance adjuster’s office with the stipulation that a fence be installed along the north property line and along the east side of the property up to the rear of the house next door.
On the question, Mr. Greenan noted that previously the Planning Board had added a special permit on rezoning requests for properties in this area. Mr. Jablonski did not ask for the special permit and the Planning Board did not have to add it, but Mr. Greenan wanted to remind the members of why they added it in the past. By granting the C-1, any use within that zoning classification could locate on this property.
Motion by Mendola, seconded by Niederpruem, to amend the motion and recommend approval of the request for a rezoning for property located at 3850 Seneca Street, being part of Lot No. 143, changing its classification from R-65A to C-1(S), for an insurance adjuster’s office with the stipulation that a fence be installed along the north property line and along the east side of the property up to the rear of the house next door.
A request from Clover Construction Management, Inc. for a special permit for property located at 2341 Union Road, being part of Lot No. 294, changing its classification from C-1(S) to C-1(S), for a senior living apartment complex.
Motion by Niederpruem, seconded by Mendola, to open the public hearing.
Chairman Ciancio stated that along with the application the Planning Board had received a short environmental assessment form, a letter describing the proposed senior citizens complex, a deed description, a survey, and site plans and elevations.
Mike Jordan represented Clover Construction Management, Inc., 1430 Millersport Highway, Williamsville, and stated that Clover Companies was actually two companies - Clover Management that managed and operated apartment buildings in WNY and other areas of the country and Clover Construction that developed and built new properties. Clover was a WNY based company and the largest apartment owner/operator in WNY with over 2000 units locally. They also owned and operated an additional 3000 units in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Georgia. Clover managed over 4000 condominium units in WNY for the homeowners associations. Mr. Jordan stated that Clover developed a senior housing concept for affordable senior housing that they believe helped address the need for lower middle income seniors for housing in their communities. Clover pioneered this concept in West Seneca in 1999 with the Seneca Pointe project on Orchard Park Road. The problem they saw in the senior market was that there was low income senior housing (subsidized housing or HUD 202 programs) for seniors earning less than 50 percent of the median income and also higher income retirement communities that typically rented for $1500 to $3000 per month. This left the middle class and lower middle class excluded from those housing opportunities. Mr. Jordan commented that there was also no affordable housing in the local market designed specifically for seniors, because market rents in the community did not justify the cost of construction and development for a new housing product. In the proposed complex, the units will be joined together into one single building with interior corridors to all the units and all the facilities. The building will be a two-story wood frame with vinyl siding and fully handicapped accessible, including an elevator to the second floor. All units will be handicapped adaptable. There will be a lounge upon entering the building, a large community room and a smaller community room for smaller gatherings, an exercise room, two laundry facilities on each floor, and a library. The building will have a security system at the front door and the building doors will always be locked. Tenants will enter using their key or by entering a code. Visitors will enter a code that rings the tenant’s telephone and they can then release the front door from their telephone. There will also be a camera in the front hall that will be connected to one of the cable television stations so a tenant can view who is in the front hall before deciding to let them in. Mr. Jordan stated that the proposed building will consist of 115 units, 45 one-bedroom units and 70 two-bedroom units. There will be 22 Type A one-bedroom units (610 square feet) that will rent for approximately $660 per month including heat and water. Each unit will have a full bath, full kitchen with eating area and appliances including a dishwasher, a living room, one bedroom with a large closet, and a patio or balcony on the exterior along with an exterior mechanical and storage closet where the heating and air conditioning units
are located. There will be 23 Type C one-bedroom units identical to Type A except that they will be 35 square feet bigger in the apartment, for a total of 645 square feet, and they will rent for approximately $685 per month. There will be 70 Type B two-bedroom units (805 square feet) that will rent for approximately $775 per month. Each unit will have a full bath, full kitchen with dining area and all appliances, one large and one smaller bedroom with large closets, a large combination living/dining room, and a patio or balcony. Mr. Jordan stated that the building will have a full-time, on-site manager and a full-time, on-site, live-in maintenance person. It will be constructed on a landlocked parcel behind the Garden Village South Plaza located at 2341 Union Road, which is immediately south of the Town of West Seneca line. Mr. Jordan submitted a revised plan that was prepared after meeting with Union Fire Company representatives. The plan was significantly revised to address the concerns that were expressed by the fire company with regard to driveways and access to the complex. The fire company wanted to be able to access three sides of the building and all the individual fire areas of the building, so 30-foot driveways were installed on three sides of the building to accommodate maneuvering of fire trucks.
Mr. Mendola questioned if Union Fire Company was satisfied with the revised plan that did not have pavement around the perimeter of the building.
Mr. Jordan responded that he had shown Union Fire Company representatives the revised plan and they wanted to see pavement or pavers to one or both ends to allow them access to the back corner of the building. The building will be fully equipped with sprinklers and there will be three fire hydrants, one at the end of each driveway and one near the front door as requested by the fire company.
Chairman Ciancio questioned the driveway and whether it was used by other facilities.
Mr. Jordan stated that the driveway was a 50-foot easement that crossed the Garden Village South property out to Union Road and it could be used by other facilities.
Code Enforcement Officer William Czuprynski questioned if the plan took any parking away from the plaza.
Mr. Jordan stated that the plan created new spaces down two sides and there was enough parking for the plaza. The total site was 5.68 acres and the building footprint was 1.21 acres. The paving will be 2.21 acres and the green space is 2.27 acres. There will be 142 parking spaces and 28 garages. Mr. Jordan referred to the landscape plan and indicated the tree survey that was done. New landscaping would include 360 shrubs and over 140 new trees. Mr. Jordan stated that they would be applying to the Zoning Board of Appeals for the following variances: 1) street frontage (Town Code states that no dwelling shall be erected on any lot that does not have immediate frontage on a street) – they will be asking for approval of a private right-of-way or easement to Union Road; 2) density (Town Code allows a density of approximately eight units per acre) – they will be asking for a density of 20.25 units per acre for the 115 unit project; 3) fencing (Town Code allows a four-foot high fence in side yard) – they will be asking to construct a six-foot high wood stockade fence on the side property line, down the front property line, and down the other side property line, with no fencing along the rear property line that faces the detention and green space area for the Burchfield patio homes complex; 4) parking (Town Code required 1.5 parking spaces per unit plus five visitor spaces per 25 units or 196 parking spaces) – they will be asking for a variance to allow 142 surface spaces and 28 garages. With regard to the density, Mr. Jordan noted that many municipalities had a code that addressed senior housing and allowed far greater density and required less parking. The Town of Cheektowaga’s code addressed senior housing and allowed a density of 43 one-bedroom units per acre or 29 two-bedroom units per acre. The City of Lackawanna code allowed 30 to 40 units per acre in an R-3 zoning. The Town of Amherst had a senior provision in their code and allowed 60 units per acre. The Town of Tonawanda code was not specific to seniors but had a multi-family zoning category that allowed 25 to 29 units per acre. Mr. Jordan further noted that their experience with affordable senior housing indicated that one parking space per unit was plenty. He was not aware of any tenants in any of their senior projects that had more than one car for a family and some had no cars. The plan submitted provided for one space per unit with an additional five spaces per 25 units for visitors.
Mr. Mendola referred to the television monitor that would be located at the front door and questioned who would be viewing it.
Mr. Jordan responded that the tenants would be able to view this through their television set.
Mr. Mendola questioned if a maintenance person would be on duty 24/7 to take care of anything that happened.
Ross Arundell, a manager with Clover Companies, responded that a maintenance man would live on site and be on duty 24 hours a day. A property manager would also be on site eight hours a day.
Mr. Mendola referred to the Seneca Pointe complex on Orchard Park Road and stated that after the building was constructed Reserve Fire Company requested additional turn around spaces for emergency vehicles, but they were told that management would not allow it. The Seneca Pointe complex did not have pavement access to the rear of the building and there was no way that emergency vehicles could get around it if they made a wrong turn. Mr. Mendola commented on the location of the three fire hydrants on the proposed plan and stated that there were parking spaces around all three of them so emergency vehicles would not be able to access them. He suggested that the plan be revised and the parking around the fire hydrants be removed.
Chairman Ciancio referred to the density of the project and thought that it was too high and had very little green space. He suggested that the project be reconfigured to lower the number of units.
Mr. Jordan stated that their goal was to supply affordable senior housing and building on a smaller site kept land costs down. They wanted to be in the 110 to 120-unit range because that size project supported a full-time, live-in maintenance person and a full-time manager.
Mr. Mendola questioned if a traffic study had been done.
Mr. Jordan responded that they had not done a traffic study.
Mr. Mendola commented on the heavy amount of traffic on Union Road in the area of the Garden Village Plaza and noted that a 60,000 square foot complex had been approved for across the street from this location.
Mr. Jordan stated that traffic studies indicate that senior housing complexes do not generate peak traffic users. The seniors are not out during rush hour traffic so they tend not to affect traffic patterns.
Mr. Mendola questioned if the proposed project was a government sponsored or financed project. He further noted that a bank was within walking distance of the proposed complex, but there was no food or clothing stores the seniors could walk to.
Mr. Jordan responded that the project was not government sponsored or financed. An ideal situation would be if the plaza was turned into a grocery store and drug store that the seniors could walk to, but he did not see that being a problem.
Mr. Niederpruem stated that the parcel of land was landlocked and he questioned if Mr. Jordan had a proposed agreement with the other property owners for easement access.
Mr. Jordan stated that the new easement through the front parcel was through Bella Vista and the existing driveway had an existing easement.
Mr. Niederpruem requested to see a copy of the easement and thought there might be a problem with the sanitary sewer, storm sewer, or waterlines because there was no access to a public road.
Mr. Jordan referred to the survey and noted the sanitary sewer, which was an existing Erie County easement from Union Road to the manhole. The proposed project would connect to that sanitary sewer. The survey also indicated a fire hydrant where the waterline could be connected or an easement through one of the lots on Greenfield Avenue.
Mr. Niederpruem advised that the Erie County Water Authority tariff states that there must be access to a public right-of-way, so use of the easement would not be allowed. The hydrant behind the building was probably a fire service and they would not be allowed to connect onto it. Mr. Niederpruem questioned how an 8-inch fire service and a minimum 4-inch domestic service would be brought to the project. He did not believe that easements could be used and suggested that Mr. Jordan investigate this before planning it.
Mr. Mendola questioned how the storm water would be released from the detention basin.
Mr. Jordan indicated a storm pipe on the survey that lead out to Union Road.
Mr. Czuprynski referred to the easement for the road and questioned who would keep the area plowed so that emergency vehicles would be able to enter.
Mr. Jordan responded that Clover Management would be responsible for snowplowing from the entrance to the complex all the way to Union Road. Similar to any private complex, it would be their responsibility.
Mr. Rathmann stated that the National Fire Prevention Code required that any access road exceeding 150 feet in length have a dedicated turnaround for fire apparatus. The proposed plan did not comply with that. The paving would also have to be designed and constructed to accommodate the heaviest vehicle at the local fire department. Mr. Rathmann further questioned if wetlands had been observed. The soil was potential hydric soil so there could be wetlands located on the parcel.
Mr. Jordan responded that no wetlands delineation had been done.
Mr. Rathmann referred to the traffic pattern and the islands in the parking lot and suggested that it be restudied and a new way be developed to eliminate some of the danger points. He commented on the storm water detention and the new stormwater regulations enacted by the Department of Environmental Conservation and questioned whether the plan submitted was adequate. Mr. Rathmann further thought that a long form environmental assessment was necessary due to the scope of the project and the various elements involved. If the project were to move forward, Mr. Rathmann suggested that a sidewalk be installed from the project out to Union Road to give the residents of the complex a safe walking path.
Mr. Czuprynski suggested that Mr. Jordan consider decreasing the amount of units, which were well over the bulk area requirements for the town.
Mr. Jordan responded that that they would look at anything that was proposed, but they wanted to stay in the range of 115 units to make the project economically viable.
Chairman Ciancio wanted to see a wetlands delineation, traffic study and a long form environmental assessment for the project.
Mr. Jordan stated that the property was zoned for commercial use and someone could build a commercial structure with very little difficulty. He felt that the senior apartment complex was more agreeable to the residential neighborhood abutting the project than a commercial use. The building was turned to create the greatest amount of green space in the back and fencing and landscaping would be provided along the common property line.
Mr. Arundell stated that he had brought residents from Seneca Pointe to this meeting and they were good neighbors who did not make a lot of noise and kept their properties well maintained.
Dan Chavanne, 86 Greenfield Avenue, stated that his property abutted the proposed project and there was a section of land 400’ x 50’ that he had maintained for the last 40 years. In 1972, the previous owner, Bella Vista, had agreed to leave some land for the kids in the neighborhood to play on. Mr. Chavanne asked that Mr. Jordan consider doing the same thing. He invited Mr. Jordan to come to his home to look at his back yard and discuss this issue. Mr. Chavanne thought that if the project was approved and he lost that green space area, his property value would be reduced. He commented that his neighborhood was still suffering with excess traffic from the patio home development. Mr. Chavanne felt there were enough senior housing complexes in West Seneca and they should come up with another way to house senior citizens. He noted that there were no retail stores in this area for the seniors to walk to. Mr. Chavanne suggested that the town do a community needs assessment instead of letting the developers decide for the citizens their quality of life. He asked that the Planning Board defer acting on the project until the draft Master Plan was completed and asked that Mr. Jordan talk with the neighbors.
Dick Meyers stated that he lived and owned a home in West Seneca since 1963 and now lived at Seneca Pointe. He and his wife sold their home so they could afford to live in a nice apartment building that they enjoyed very much. Mrs. Meyers was handicapped and used an electric scooter to get around Seneca Pointe. They had a lot more friends now than in their old neighborhood and they participated in a number of recreational activities. Mr. Meyers noted that most of the residents at Seneca Pointe owned a home at one time but moved to Seneca Pointe because their homes were too much for them to take care of. They also felt safer and more secure at Seneca Pointe with the type of security system they had. Mr. Meyers stated that the occupancy rate was very close to 100 percent and the apartments were usually only empty for one month while they were cleaned and painted after someone moved out.
Cheryl Ratigan, 50 Greenfield Avenue, felt that the project was too large for the area. She noted that the access road for the project on the other side of Union Road would be next to Arby’s and across from Denny’s and there was no signal light. Mrs. Ratigan was concerned about additional traffic, loss of green space and wildlife, and the impact the complex would have on the sewer system in the area.
Mr. Chavanne questioned if the petitioner had purchased or was in the process of purchasing any residential houses on Greenfield Avenue.
Mr. Jordan responded that they had looked at purchasing a house on Greenfield Avenue to provide access for the project. They had discussed this possibility but abandoned it when they found out that it would not go over well with the neighborhood.
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Ciancio, to table the request for a special permit for property located at 2341 Union Road, being part of Lot No. 294, changing its classification from C-1(S) to C-1(S), for a senior living apartment complex until the petitioner is able to address the following issues raised by the Planning Board: 1) access to public water; 2) access to sanitary sewer; 3) storm drainage plan with an outfall shown indicating where the storm water goes from the detention pond on the property and how that relates to the detention pond for Burchfield Patio Homes; 4) a traffic study that will enable the Planning Board to evaluate the number of vehicles going into Union Road in conjunction with the project across the street on Union Road; 5) the density of the project, which if reduced substantially might take care of the fire department and paving problems; 6) fire department access to the building in the southeast corner; 7) wetlands delineation; 8) cross easements with Garden Village Plaza; 9) long environmental assessment form; 10) communication with neighbors.
Motion by Greenan, seconded by Rathmann, to adjourn the meeting at 9:00 P.M.
PATRICIA C. DEPASQUALE, RMC/CMC