Ithaca, N.Y. — New York state has approved a cleanup plan for a controversial development on Ithaca’s Spencer Road, handing the mayor a major victory in his push for more affordable housing in the city.

The future of the Stone Quarry Apartment complex seemed in doubt after major pollutants discovered at the development complex in 2012 came to light.

The revelation, first reported by The Ithaca Voice last month, came just as the city’s planning board was about to give the project a crucial green light. Then the state confirmed, contrary to what city officials had said, that there was an open spill site at the development.

It was suddenly uncertain if the state had signed off on the development. The planning board tabled the issue at a heated meeting until it could learn more, leaving the future of the project unsettled.

The Stone Quarry development proposal as of July.
The Stone Quarry development proposal as of July.

But on Thursday, the DEC said in an email to city officials that it was accepting Ithaca’s Environmental Management Plan. That will give a boost to proponents of the project.

“The Environmental Management Plan prepared by Seeler Engineering is acceptable and appropriate,” said the DEC’s Richard Brazell, regional spill engineer.

“Completion of the EMP, including DEC acceptance of the closure report, will resolve the issues identified in past spill reports and site assessments.”

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The DEC email did not explain in the message what caused significant confusion over the site’s environmental status. Its spokesperson has similarly not returned requests for answers from The Voice.

Many residents of the area are likely to continue to oppose the development, which they have said will reduce the quality of life in the neighborhood, cause traffic problems and create other hardships.

Mayor Svante Myrick has supported the development amid the opposition and has repeatedly said that Ithaca needs more affordable housing.

You can read The Voice’s previous reporting on the topic here and here.

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Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.