Developer outlines plans for new Rome project

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A site plan review and State Environmental Quality Review for a proposal by Buck Construction to build 65 residential units as part of a major subdivision off Charles Anken Boulevard were tabled by the city Planning Board during its regular monthly meeting Tuesday.

Steven Buck, president of Buck Construction, LLC of Whitesboro, gave an overview of his plans to build 64 single family residences and townhouses as part of the subdivision, which will also include a clubhouse with such amenities as a pool, basketball court and tennis courts for the community’s residents. The first phase of construction would include the 65 units total, with plans to later build an additional 25 units for a total of 90.

Planning Board Chairman Mark Esposito said next month the board will hold a public hearing on the project before it can approve any preliminaries, such as the site plan and SEQR review, citing some items on Buck’s application that the company was not yet able to provide.

“We’re looking to develop a stellar, cutting-edge subdivision with several different housing types incorporated into it,” Buck explained during his presentation. “...We’re looking to put single story houses” in one corridor, “and to the right there will be single-family homes or stand-alones. We know we’re doing 64 residential units and one community center, and if that goes well, we’re going to finish” the subdivision, which “will bring us up to 90 units for this section of land.”

Asked if he had plans to sell or lease (rent) the properties, Buck said a combination of the townhouses will be for sale, while the single-family homes may be purchased or leased, “depending on what people are looking for.”

On the plot of land Buck is looking at for construction, he said his company is waiting on a “conservation features inventory” because the land has been flagged as potential wetlands.

“Depending on where the exact plotting of the wetlands is, we may be moving some of the (property) lines a little bit, but overall the plot of land you’re looking at is pretty solid,” said Buck.

Chairman Esposito asked about electric cars and charging stations with projections that “we’ll all be driving electric cars in the next 10-20 years,” and the need for recharging infrastructure.

Buck explained there is a program through National Grid that will allow his construction company to install 20 charging stations a year. Some of the residences will have charging stations inside the garage, he said.

“...If you have a single-family residential home, we’re going to be sizing the edging panels so they (residents) can put in their own plug if they want, but the leased townhouse units, we’ll be putting in 20 charging stations in those units per year,” Buck explained. “Every year we’ll do 20 stations so by the time we reach critical mass and have all these electrical requirements for electric cars, we’ll have the infrastructure to basically take care of anyone who has an electric car.”

Asked if the subdivision would be mixed-use or partially commercial, and Buck said there would be no commercial development at the subdivision. Buck also said in addition to the community center, he was also in communications with the mayor and Deputy Director of Community and Economic Development Matthew J. Andrews about establishing a bicycle/walking trail around the perimeter of the property.

More details about the sketch plans, construction and plot layout would be available at the next meeting, Buck said.

In other business:

• The SEQR and site plan review for Hoffman Development Corp., of Albany, to build a 6,400 square-foot car wash at the former Rite Aid pharmacy at 1727 Black River Blvd., neighboring Key Bank, was unanimously approved by the board, with member David Smith absent.

Following last month’s meeting, Gavin Vuillaume, landscape architect with Environmental Design Partnership, the civil engineer for the project, said they have now provided further details, by request, on curb cut modifications to be made on the northern portion of the property. Vuillaume said the state Department of Transportation wanted more detailed grading information, which they have now provided.

“We don’t foresee any more issues with DOT,” Vuillaume reported.

He said the car wash for Erie Boulevard West, which had previously been approved by the city planning and zoning boards, is out to bid now, and the design of that car wash is “almost identical” to that of the one going up on Black River Boulevard. Esposito asked when the projected completion date for the project would be. Vuillaume said for Erie Boulevard, they project construction to begin in July, and that the car wash would be open nine months after the start date. The same would be for the Black River site — the business would open nine months after the start of construction, looking into 2022 for an opening date.

Vuillaume also outlined minor changes to its site plan, including some plantings that city zoning requires to be at least 3-feet high as opposed to 2-feet, that would be planted along the northern and western portions of the property. There was also a change in the dumpster enclosure considering the proximity of the property to a residential area at the rear. Vuillaume said instead of a chain-link fence, the dumpster will be enclosed by a concrete facade on three sides which will “cut down on noise and it does last forever.”

Questioned by Esposito about the marketability of the car wash, seeing Hoffman plans to construct two in Rome, and is in the process of also building one in New Hartford, Marty Andrews, director of development for Hoffman, said, “We do our own research and we targeted these markets because of the lack of conveyor car washes in the area...We looked at the large population of the two cities (Rome and Utica). We figured customers in the area would be pleased we have an unlimited car wash program...and knowing the weather in Rome with the salt and snow in the winter, you want to keep that off your vehicles — that’s what we’re going to bring to both areas.”

Andrews also added that local contractors will be hired to build the Hoffman car washes.

“We have every reason to believe we’ll be successful,” he said. “We’ve built many car washes before, and we do account for the traffic and income in the area, and we believe this will be a very successful place.”

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