October 28, 2021

Neighbors bash housing plan

Provided by Trinitas Ventures

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

DRYDEN — A proposed 220-unit townhouse development in Varna would destroy the character of the community, residents said Thursday night at a meeting to review plans for the $40 million project.

“This will not only double the population, it’s going to change the makeup of the kind of population that’s there, so Varna will no longer be recognizable,” said Buzz Lavine of 719 Ringwood Road, one of about 50 people who attended the three-hour meeting in town hall.

Indiana-based Trinitas Ventures wants to build 220 units in 25 buildings, totaling 610 bedrooms at Dryden and Mount Pleasant roads called The Village at Varna. It would include 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 current plan would double the population of the hamlet.

Varna Community Center Chairwoman Janet Morgan said the proposal doesn’t encourage home ownership or balance between single-family or townhouse dwelling in the hamlet. The board for the community center passed a resolution urging the town board to reject the proposal until the developer meets the standards set by the Varna Development Plan.

The plan was approved by the Town Board in 2012. It amended existing zoning laws and added to the town’s 2005 master plan. The development plan outlines goals for housing development — adding 450 more bedrooms over the next several decades — while recommending road, park and sidewalk updates. Residents said they want more single-family homes. The hamlet now has 650 bedrooms.

Town board member Kathy Servos said the development is just a large cluster of dormitories. The company is looking to attract 20- to 30-year-olds, said 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. The company will also provide a shuttle service.

Servos also said the company’s resident life amenities, including its courtesy officer, who would only be working when he is available, was a safety concern. She said one officer would not be enough.

“I know from my daughter-in-law, who was house mother for a sorority, these kids that you are marketing to they really don’t give a rat’s butt about anybody that lives around them,” Servos said.

Laurie Snyder of 36 Freese Road said the proposal doesn’t look at long-term needs for the hamlet.

“We are already a community,” Snyder said. “When you talk about your community you’re ignoring the fact that there is already a community and a community association.”

Many residents were also worried about the effect on green house gas emissions and stormwater control. Hansen said they are working on meeting Leadership in Energy and Environment Design, or LEED, standards. The company is also completing a full state environmental impact review.