Thursday, October 16, 2014

Judge says Pittsford boards need to review apartment project

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 4:34 PM

A judge may have just unstuck a controversial Village of Pittsford development proposal.

For months, Pittsford Canalside Properties' proposed Westport Crossing housing project has been in limbo. The village, developer, and a citizens' group have been arguing intertwining lawsuits largely focusing on environmental, planning, and zoning issues. The project couldn't advance through the required review process while the lawsuits were pending.

But in a pair of rulings earlier this week, Monroe County Supreme Court Justice John Ark said that the village's Planning Board, Zoning Board of Appeals, and Architectural Preservation and Review Board "are to process and decide Canalside's application, including a final site plan, post haste." 

The suits were filed by Pittsford Canalside Properties. The development company wants to build 167 apartment units and a restaurant on the 75 Monroe Avenue site, which is a brownfield. The company has done cleanup work at the site.

But the project has a long and contentious history. In December 2012, the village board granted special permits for the project, though Mayor Bob Corby and then-Trustee Paula Sherwood voted against the approvals. They said that the project didn't fit with the village's character and scale. Prior to the permit vote, the board had issued the project a negative declaration under a state environmental review law.

After the special permit approvals, the Planning Board signed off on the project's preliminary site plan. But that's when the project's progress slowed to a stop. A citizens' group appealed the site plan decision to the village board — an action that is permitted under Pittsford's local laws.

And soon after, the village board started a process to rescind its previous environmental declaration for the project.

In his decision, Ark says that the trustees don't have the authority to rescind the negative declaration and he bars the village board from hearing the residents' appeal. 

Village officials are still reviewing the decision and expect to know more about its implications in coming days.

Chris DiMarzo, the chief operating officer for Mark IV Enterprises, says that Ark was thoughtful in his decision. Pittsford Canalside Properties is a Mark IV subsidiary.

"We are very pleased that we will be afforded this opportunity," DiMarzo says.

Copies of Ark's decisions are included below.

Decision (Index 13-1951) (HBROC-2360862 v1) by jmouleatcity

Decision (Index 14-5753) (HBROC-2360864 v1) by jmouleatcity

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