City board reviews high-profile projects

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After a Tuesday night city planning board meeting, the status of some current building projects will be carried on to the next meeting agenda.

• Picking up an issue discussed at a previous planning board meeting, was a New York State Environmental Quality Review (also known as a SEQR, which considers environmental impacts of a project), and site plan review of a request to construct an approximate 70,840-square foot senior and community housing center at the site of the former Fort Stanwix School, 112 W. Linden St.

The project requested by CDS — a nonprofit, individualized support organization — will be primarily one bedroom units, officials said during the meeting that was accessible by telephone audio livestream.

After some discussion, further action on the SEQR review and site plan review for the project was tabled until next month to give board members time to visit the site and visually review fencing, landscape, buffer and trash dumpster issues.

• Representatives from Hamilton College were requesting a site plan review for a 4,770 square foot boathouse, plaza, parking and landscaping they are planning to construct at 420 Harbor Way.

The site will house equipment used by the college’s rowing team which practices on the Erie Canal.

Despite rowing crew activities being on a hiatus due to the Coronavirus pandemic, college officials indicated that if site plan approval is awarded, construction could begin in the fall. The building will feature large windows and cedar shake siding.

City officials noted that a mandated comment period for the project SEQR is still in play, so further action on site plan review was tabled until the next planning board meeting.

• An initial sketch plan review was conducted for a project being undertaken by GPO Federal Credit Union. Representatives produced preliminary ideas to iron out fine details before a more formal site plan review is conducted.

According to city documents, the credit union wants to construct a 2,800 square foot building along with parking, lighting and landscaping features at 1701-1709 North James St., the corner of Chestnut Street.

At the meeting, credit union representatives said they bought a number of smaller parcels in that area and are in the process of combining them into one.

In providing details, the proposed credit union branch would have three drive-through lanes as well as what is called an “escape lane” which serves as an outside exit lane often used for those who need to duck out of line for whatever reason.

There was a question of a limited number of maximum parking spots allowed at the site — per code, it would allow one parking space per 200 square feet of building. Credit union officials were concerned that after credit union employees use spaces there would be little left for patrons. The planning board advised them they would need to seek a remedy from the city zoning board to fine-tune that aspect of the project.

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