By Lisa Capobianco
The Planning and Zoning Commission voted unanimously in approval of an application for a six-lot subdivision on Loper Street, while discussing the possibility of adding sidewalks in the plan.
During a public hearing at a recent Planning and Zoning meeting, Stephen Giudice, the owner of Harry E. Cole & Son representing the applicant Magnoli Enterprises Inc., said the property was subdivided two months ago into one building lot of 3.62 acres, and will now be further subdivided into six residential lots, with each home being at least 22,500 square feet, all served by public water and public sewer.
Paul Chaplinsky, the vice chairperson of the commission, expressed his concern about public safety, asking if the developer would consider adding sidewalks to the plan, since he has seen pedestrians walking on Loper Street from Queen Street.
“It’s a very busy road,” said Chaplinsky during the meeting.
Giudice replied there was not an opposition to adding sidewalks, but several issues exist, such as expenses. He added that under state law, the commission cannot require sidewalks, since the proposed subdivision, located on an existing town road, is considered to be an offsite improvement.
“There is a significant cost to put in sidewalks,” said Giudice, adding there has been a lot of battling over sidewalks on existing roadways in the court system.
During the discussion, Chaplinsky motioned to table the item, requesting more time to address the issue of public safety with the applicant. The motion to table failed 4 to 3.
“It’s an opportunity for us to work with the developer, and try to come to some mutual agreement,” said Chaplinsky. “I understand that we’re talking about costs, but there are no costs on the safety of people.”
Planning and Zoning Commission member Steve Kalkowski, who voted in approval of the application, said he agreed with Chaplinsky’s viewpoint on the addition of sidewalks, but rejected the motion to table.
“We heard on the record from the agent that the developer is not willing to do this at this point,” Kalkowski said during the meeting. “At this point in time, I don’t think we should hold this application up.”
During the meeting, Sciota said the developer would be open to discussing the possibility of sharing the costs of sidewalks. Sciota mentioned a 60-40 payment program that the town offers for residents repairing sidewalks and putting sidewalks in.
Under this program, residents pay 60 percent of the costs, and the town pays 40 percent.
“Although it has not been used in situations with new subdivisions on existing town roads in the past, that could be reviewed for this application,” said Sciota in an e-mail.
During the final vote, Chaplinsky, voted in favor of the application overall, but recommended that the applicant discuss the possibility of adding sidewalks with town staff.
“One of our regulations is to consider current development and future development of the surrounding area,” Chaplinsky said during the meeting. “Clearly there is future development in this area that will occur in this area.”