P&Z: River Road condo plan concerns arise

Extensive rock cuts, steep slopes, traffic, parking adequacy and wildlife impact were among the issues raised during a Feb. 27 hearing on a proposed 36-unit condominium on upper River Road.
“I think there’s a lot more questions that need to be answered,” Planning and Zoning Commission member Tony Pogoda said.
The city engineer’s office pointed to “serious concerns regarding the slope” behind some residential buildings from a planned “open rock cut,” suggesting a barrier is needed “to protect all properties below.”
City zoning consultant Tony Panico said loose rock potentially could fall 40 or 50 feet from a ledge and land near some proposed buildings.
“There’s a lot of unknowns with that rock,” said commission member Mark Widomski, asking for more details on what he called a “cliff” to be created from a proposed rock cut.
Members requested that a traffic report be completed to gauge the potential impact on River Road (Route 110).

Key Development LLC wants to construct nine residential buildings on 12.4 acres at 85-97 River Road, across from the Baingan Indian restaurant. Three parcels would be combined to make up the development site, which slopes down toward the road with a major elevation change.
The developer is seeking a special exception to allow a multi-family development on the property, which is zoned Residence-3 for quarter-acre lots.
The project would have 24 two-bedroom townhouse units and 12 three-bedroom ranch units, with buildings up to three stories high. Each unit would have a deck or patio.
Developer architect Pat Rose said while the site includes extensive exposed rock, the proposal would leave a “significant amount of open space to the rear of this property.”
Rose said the plan involved fewer bedrooms at 84 than a previous concept involving 30 single-family homes with 120 bedrooms. The old concept, which never was part of a formal application, would “disturb the site much more,” he said.
A group of neighbors expressed concerns about the proposal. Diana Barry said many fatal accidents have taken place in recent years on River Road, which she described as being “very dangerous.”
Barry pointed to potential overcrowding at nearby Sunnyside School from having so many new residences nearby.
Other neighbors worried about extensive tree cutting, how wildlife would be affected, the development’s visibility from their homes and the impact of blasting on their foundations.
Also discussed were “cramped” outdoor spaces for units, whether a mail pickup location just off River Road would be dangerous, proposed tandem garage parking spaces in the townhouses and a possible need for more visitor parking throughout the site.
The site has 400 feet of frontage on River Road and would be accessed off one driveway at the northern part of the property. All units would be at least 50 feet from River Road.
Much of the property, in the rear and southern part, would be undeveloped due to wetlands and grade changes. Nearby homes are on River Road in the front and Jenyfer Court and Richard Boulevard in the rear.
The developer also is seeking wetlands and sewer authority. The P&Z hearing was kept open for the developer to present more information on rock cuts, traffic, parking and other issues.