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Lansing Meadows

The Village of Lansing Planning Board met Tuesday to determine whether work on the Lansing Meadows project has met their deadline and conditions.  The 20-unit mall senior housing project is part of an agreement that allowed the construction of the BJ's Wholesale Club building in 2012.  After many proposed designs and false starts, a clearly frustrated planning board approved a new design in April.  But friction between developer Eric Goetzmann and planning board members over deviations from the original proposal let to mistrust, prompting planning board members to require start and completion dates as conditions of the project's special permit.

"Today is July 31st.  It's very much like June 6th -- it's D-Day for Mr. Goetzmann," said Planning Board Chairman Mario Tomei. "This is when he would have had to complete all of those conditions.  So things have been pushed around and moved around.  He made a 'baby step' here.  It doesn't say how much has to be started.  It just says it has to be commenced."

The original plan called for rezoning the  12 senior housing rental units, a wetlands, bird sanctuary, and a buffer of trees that would create a gradual segue between the high traffic commercial zoning at the mall and residential areas to the north of the Oakcrest Road property.  The Planning Board reluctantly went along with Goetzmann's request to rezone about 20% of the property for commercial use so that he could build a small 'amenity' such as a coffee shop or sandwich shop that residents and YMCA users could walk to.  But a parade of design changes tried planning board members' tempers as Goetzmann attempted to increase the number of units at the expense of the 'cottage-like neighborhood' feel the original plan proposed.

That impatience was manifested by strict construction start and completion deadlines enforced as conditions of the issuance of the required special permit.  Goetzmann was given until Tuesday to begin work on the project, and, after some negotiation, the Planning Board gave him two years to finish, insisting that requiring a completion deadline would insure the Village gets what Goetzmann agreed to.

As of Tuesday the two curb cuts for a semi-circular road had been opened, and some erosion control and infrastructure work had been begun.  Preliminary work on leveling the property had begun, and large piles of dirt were deposited on the property.  Code Enforcement Officer Adam Robbs said that that work plus paperwork and permits Goetzmann submitted to him did meet the start date condition.

Goetzmann was required to begin work on erosion control measures, permits and approvals, drainage, a landscaping plan, among other conditions. Robbs said he has complied with all conditions that he has control over, and that others are either underway or not due until later in the process.

"Yes, he scratched the earth.  Yes, he does have the soil fencing in," Robbs said. "He has hired a dedicated contractor at this time to do the site work.  He has a culvert permit and approval to install a temporary culvert for construction use.  I do have a preliminary set of plans.  I am hesitant to say he has begun a significant amount of work... but he has begun work."

Lansing Meadows - Mall Senior HousingThe 20-unit Lansing Meadows project is envisioned as a senior community where residents can walk to shopping and amenities. It was proposed as a condition of building the BJ's Wholesale Club building in 2012

When negotiations for the project began in 2010, the Goetzmann and the Village Planning Board in 2011 agreed on a plan that would make the senior housing a condition of the BJ's project.  Goetzmann also negotiated a PILOT Increment Funding (PIF) agreement with the Tompkins County Industrial Development Agency (IDA), qualifying his Arrowhead Ventures to receive up to $2.3 million in Recovery Zone Exempt Facility Bonds for the project and Payment-In-Lieu-Of-Tax (PILOT) financing agreement that would support debt service on qualifying project costs.

Earlier this year the IDA threatened to withdraw benefits on the grounds that Goetzmann had not complied with his agreement with the Village.  Tuesday's acknowledgement that he has met the deadline to begin construction will allow him to salvage that money.

"The only thing we have to do tonight is show he met his deadline of July 31st, 2018," Tomei said. "He did complete the ones he is in control of, and Adam can send a letter to the IDA saying that he met the conditions that we required."

The planning board voted unanimously that Goetzmann has met all the conditions under his control before the deadline.

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