LANSING, NY – About 40 local residents crowded into the Village of Lansing office on Monday, where a public comment period became an occasionally confrontational back-and-forth with the Lansing village mayor and Board of Trustees.

The topic at hand was a proposed zoning change for a 19.46 acre parcel of land on the south of Bomax Drive, between Warren Road and Nor Way (just down the road from the entrance to the airport). The parcel, currently zoned for Business and Technology, would be changed to a High-density Residential zone, essentially paving the way for a 140 unit apartment development proposed by Park Grove Realty.

Residents have been out in force since September, according to the Lansing Star, to oppose the change. Village officials have also received dozens of letters opposing the rezoning, and very few in favor.

Concerns have been raised over the impact the development would have on local traffic, property values and wildlife, among other concerns. Others raised concerns about the impact the development would have on an ongoing neighborhood development project by IJ Construction that has been in the works for nearly 30 years.

While Lansing Mayor Donald Hartill attempted to draw a distinction between the proposed zoning change and the particular 140-unit project, several residents challenged this idea. They argued that without the proposed project on the table, this zoning change would not even be under consideration.

Hartill said that, having discussed the issue with the village planning department, such a zoning change was deemed to be keeping with the goals of the village’s comprehensive plan, and that the high-density residential zone would serve as a more appropriate transition with the neighboring zones.

Lansing Code Enforcement/Zoning Officer Marty Moseley walked the board and the residents through an Environmental Assessment Form, with the audience giving many audible scoffs where they clearly disagreed with declarations “no or small impact” on things like traffic. (Engineering firm Passero Architects produced a full traffic study indicating minimal impact.)

Board members also pointed out that the development would help with the housing crisis in Tompkins County, an often-taken-for-granted position which got a surprising amount of pushback from some residents, who argued that the area needed more affordable housing and that market-rate housing wouldn’t help the issue.

Ultimately, Hartill said that while he understood residents opposition and frustration with the decision, he had to do what was best for the whole of the Village of Lansing, not just one particular neighborhood. The Village Trustees all appeared to be on the same page and voted unanimously in favor of a local law changing the zoning.

Now the proposed project must go through the village’s planning board for review.

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Michael Smith

Michael Smith reports on politics and local news for the Ithaca Voice. He can be reached via email at msmith@ithacavoice.com, by cell at (607) 229-0885, or via Google Voice at (518) 650-3639.