ITHACA, N.Y. — Plans were submitted earlier this week for a new 36-unit townhouse project just east of Varna hamlet in the town of Dryden.

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The project, called the “Evergreen Townhouses”, is proposed for a 6.54 acre parcel of land at 1061 Dryden Road, currently a single-family home with a large field in the rear of the property. The house and land were sold in October 2015 for $285,000 to “M&R Entities LLC”, a company owned by Lansing businessman Gary Sloan.

The units would be 2-story rentals, three-bedrooms each with about 1800 square-feet in each unit. Sloan is seeking to have the land rezoned from rural residential to a planned unit development – rural residential allows for up to 28 units in a suburban layout, while the proposed design clusters 36 units on 2.11 acres, leaving the rest of the land undeveloped. The application, filled out by architect Kim Michaels of local firm TWMLA, states “[t]he project seeks approval as a Planned Unit Development (PUD) in order to provide clustered housing, preserve vegetation, limit site disturbance, and conglomerate open space.”

As part of the plan, land on the western side of the property once used by the Lehigh Valley Railroad would be deeded to the town of Dryden for use in the Varna-Freeville Rail Trail.

Although the property is in some ways considered part of Varna, the land was not part included in the hamlet’s land use plan analysis, which looked at Varna’s “core” only. Zoning to the south on Observatory Circle allows up to 11 units per acre with a minimum of 60% green space, while rural residential zoning on the east and west sides of 1061 Dryden allow a two-family house for each 10,000 square-foot lot in a conventional suburban layout (about 8 units per acre if subdivided, although that’s a theoretical maximum that doesn’t account for land constraints). The townhouses as proposed would result in about 5.5 units per acre, with 68% green space. According to the application, the project’s cost is estimated at $4.5 million.

The town board of Dryden is set to have their first look at the townhouse project at their meeting next Thursday. Along with TWMLA, Ithaca-based HOLT Architects and engineering firm T.G. Miller are involved with the project design.

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Brian Crandall

Brian Crandall reports on housing and development for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached at bcrandall@ithacavoice.com.