Richmondville residents thrash apartment project


By Jim Poole

Residents verbally bashed a proposed 40-unit apartment complex in Richmondville even as the project received subdivision approval Thursday.
With no dissenting votes, the village planning board approved Housing Visions' subdivision for the property between Radez School and the proposed Dollar General.
Final approval of the entire complex rests with the village board.
Board members and the public had hoped to learn more about the project at Thursday's meeting.
"We don't have a lot of answers yet," said Planning Board Co-Chair Diana Spenello, opening the session. "This is kind of a fact-finding mission."
Facts, however, were few. Although Housing Visions' Chris Trevisani said at a March 2 hearing that he'd explain plans further, he held off Thursday.
Instead, residents questioned the need for apartments, Housing Visions' non-profit status, grants for the project, traffic and the type of tenants.
"What in this project is going to benefit the Village of Richmondville?" asked Paul Sawyer, who would be a neighbor.
"Quite frankly, with me living next door, I don't want 100 neighbors."
The complex, named Candlewood Court, will use the Radez driveway, actually an unnamed village street, as access to Route 7. Mr. Sawyer wondered about traffic at the beginning and end of school days.
The complex will have 24 single-bedroom units, and the rest will be two-and three-bedroom. When several at the meeting estimated that the complex will hold 100 to 200 people, Mr. Trevisani said his statistics showed 73 will live there.
Although it's unclear whether Housing Visions will receive grants for the housing, several at the meeting assumed so.
"There are already empty apartments around here and in Cobleskill," said Michele Ventura, representing her daughter, Angela. "Why aren't there grants for the apartments we have?"
Local landlord Stan Palmer also questioned the grants.
"I'm concerned about a non-profit competing against a private landlord," Mr. Palmer said. "Why give them an advantage and not me?"
As a non-profit, Housing Visions is likely to have a payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT agreement. Instead, Mr. Palmer said, taxes for a project this size "should be in the 10s of thousands."
Giving the project a tax break means a heavier tax burden would fall on residents, he added.
Some of the sharpest criticism targeted the types of tenants. Housing Visions has not indicated whether the complex will be for seniors or low-income residents, but speakers feared the worst.
Ms. Spenello read a text from a Richmondville resident who was worried about "druggies" next to Radez.
Another email said the complex could draw "riffraff."
"This is what they'd call 'The Projects' in the City," added Ms. Ventura, referring to lower-standard housing in New York.
But another resident, Bonnie Bowes, suggested that speakers were assuming too much.
"This could be for the elderly, and there are single people who aren't druggies," she said.
Mr. Trevisano didn't respond to the criticism but said he would in the future.
"We'll gather all these public comments and answer them at the public hearing," he said.
That hearing on Housing Visions' site plan is scheduled for 6pm Thursday, April 13, probably at the Richmondville Firehouse. The regular planning board meeting will start at 5:30.