Skaneateles

Experts, residents pack Skaneateles Town Hall to fight Loveless Farms Development proposal

2014-06-25T10:00:00Z 2014-06-26T18:47:15Z Experts, residents pack Skaneateles Town Hall to fight Loveless Farms Development proposalJonathan Monfiletto | jonathan.monfiletto@lee.net Auburn Citizen

SKANEATELES | Residents leading the battle against the proposed Loveless Farms Development subdivision say it is about more than just fighting against one particular development — it's about protecting the community's future.

While technical experts and concerned citizens alike voiced opinions Tuesday against Tim Green's 47-acre, 17-unit subdivision proposal on the west side of Skaneateles Lake, Mary Gardner reminded them that it is not just about Loveless, as "a year from now and a couple miles down" a similar development might come up.

"We could be talking about the future," the Wave Way resident said. "We alluded to other land that could become available. ... This is an incredible place to live, and it's worth preserving."

Gardner's comments and others came during a public information session hosted by the Skaneateles Town Planning Board Tuesday night that saw more than 50 people pack the town hall to let their voices be heard.

Though scheduled for two hours, the session lasted just short of an hour and 20 minutes. It started with Andrew Leja, the attorney representing Loveless, giving a brief, five-minute presentation on the background and specifications of the proposal.

Following Leja were a slew experts speaking against the proposal — attorney John Langey, who represents property owners in the vicinity of the development, Damian Vanetti of GHD engineering firm, Vincent Pietrzak and Alex Belding of Appel Osborne Landscape Architecture, and local architect Bob Eggleston.

Several local residents spoke afterward, including Joe Spaulding, who produced aerial photos showing a forest of trees on the development and read a letter from his granddaughter voicing her opposition.

"I'm very concerned about this," he said.

Holly Gregg, executive director of Citizens to Preserve the Character of Skaneateles, spoke several times, including building on Gardner's comments about the town's future.

"This is about the community taking a stand against this type of development, especially in the watershed," he said, earlier noting the proposal goes against the Joint Comprehensive Plan. "The idea of putting a subdivision in the watershed is just not feasible."

Gregg addressed Planning Board Chairman Mark Tucker and thanked the board for hosting the session when it did not have to do so.

"We have to do this because we're interested in the community," Tucker said in response.

Gregg also asked about the next steps of the process, to which Planning Board Attorney Scott Molnar said the board would sort through the comments to get responses from developers and present those at a later special meeting with Loveless as the sole topic of discussion.

"There will be additional opportunities for the public to comment," Molnar said.

East Lake Road resident Jim Moore noted the Loveless property is scheduled to contain multiple homes, making landowner Green, the former Syracuse University football star and ex-National Football League player, effectively a real estate developer seeking to profit from selling the homes.

"Should one person's financial gain exceed the detriment to our community and our lake?" Moore asked, also joining many present in speaking against a bridge that will span a ravine on the property. "It's mind boggling to me we are even considering this bridge."

Bockes Road resident Ken Buttolph noted the proposal goes both what the town zoning codes and comprehensive plan specifically state and also what both documents intended to accomplish.

"There is the spirit of the law, and there is the letter of the law," he said. "The spirit of the law should be pretty obvious."

Sachem Drive resident Donna Himelfarb voiced concerns about the noise and disruption caused by machinery and equipment during the development's construction.

"I want to enjoy the peace and quiet and serenity of it," she said of living along the lake. "The process of building something like this is noisy and disruptive."

When planning board member Scott Winkelman asked about the water quality of residents sing well water in the development's vicinity, several residents reported they currently enjoy a good water quality.

Other than Leja, State Street Road resident Maggie Culleton was the lone person to speak in favor of the project. She said she felt the town and its residents should respect a person's privacy and property rights and allow developers to move forward with the project uninhibited.

"I really think things have gotten beyond all imagination," she said. "I think we've come to a time where we're making too much trouble for one individual."

Jonathan Monfiletto can be reached at jonathan.monfiletto@lee.net or (315) 283-1615. Follow him on Twitter @Skan_Monfiletto.

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