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Varna project raises concerns

Provided by Trinitas Ventures

This sketch shows a 610-bedroom townhouse project proposed for in the hamlet of Varna in the town of Dryden.

VARNA — A proposed townhouse development that would virtually double the population of Varna is drawing concerns from both residents and Dryden Town Board members — due in part to how large the project is— as developers prepare for a review by the board Thursday.

The meeting is at 7 p.m. in the Town Hall at 93 E. Main St., Dryden.

Indiana-based Trinitas Ventures wants to build 220 units in 25 buildings, totaling 610 bedrooms at Dryden and Mount Pleasant Road, according to site plan documents. There will also be 800 square feet of commercial space. The land was a previously proposed site for Varna II housing complex by developer Stephen Lucente in 2011.

The plan could already be facing problems, though, as residents expressed apprehension over the size of the project.

“It is an excessively large proposal for this small hamlet,” said Varna resident Jim Skaley.

Some are concerned that the project is not compatible with the Varna Community Development Plan that was approved by the town board in 2012. The plan amended existing zoning laws and added to the town’s 2005 master plan. The development plan outlines goals for housing development — adding 450 bedrooms over the next several decades — while recommending road, park and sidewalk updates. The hamlet now has 650 bedrooms.

The company is looking to attract 20- to 30-year-olds, according to Kimberly Hansen, manager of design and development operations. Trinitas’ website shows that 15 of its 17 housing complexes across the nation are for students and predominately located near large universities. Cornell University is a couple miles from the proposed site, which Hansen said was a factor in choosing the location.

Town Board member Kathy Servos said residents would like to see the single-family homes built because those families are more likely to stay in the area and become immersed into the community, while students are transient.

“I don’t think it contributes to the vitality of the community,” Skaley said.

Size and density of the project has also led the board to question what effect it could have on the environment, so much that it has required Trinitas to do a full environmental impact review, Servos said.

The plan also lacks sufficient parking and green space to meet zoning requirements, site plan documents show. The plan has 425 spaces available, 134 spaces fewer than the zoning requirement of 559. It also shows insufficient green space. Town Planning Director Ray Burger said Trinitas plans 50.54 percent green space; zoning requires 60 percent.

The town planning board will also comment on the proposal at its July 26 meeting. Once all comments are made, the town board will decide on a date for a public hearing. Hansen said Trinitas is “expecting another great dialogue with the board and the community on what our development will offer and how we can become excellent community partners.”

If approved, Hansen said the project could take about 16 months to build and cost roughly $40 million.

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