Trumansburg planning board meeting

TRUMANSBURG, N.Y. — A revised mixed-income housing plan was introduced to the Trumansburg Planning Board at a meeting Thursday night, with mixed reactions from a packed room of village residents.

At this stage, the Hamilton Square project is still a malleable concept. A formal application for review has yet to be submitted to the village, although intent was stated to have an application ready by early July. Typically, public hearings are held for formal proposals that have already been filed.

“We think it’s important given this concept, it’s probably to everybody’s benefit to bend over backwards and allow the community to be involved in the discussion early and often. We think it’s appropriate and the right thing to do,” said Rick Geiger, chairman of the board.

The current concept for Hamilton Square calls for 77 units of mixed-income and ownership, a decrease from about 90 units shown in three proposals at an open house earlier this month. Up to 15 units would be developed and sold by property owner Claudia Brenner at market rate. Another 15 units would be developed by project partner INHS and sold to lower-middle families as part of their Community Housing Trust for affordable owner-occupied housing. The remaining 47 would be affordable rentals owned and managed by INHS.

The owner occupied units would be built along a new public roadway connected South Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, mostly in strings of 2-4 townhouses. The INHS rentals would also be townhouses, similar in style and massing to those being built at the 210 Hancock site in Ithaca’s Northside neighborhood. Those units would utilize a private loop road that would be owned and maintained by INHS. A community building, playground, walkways and buffer landscaping are also included in the proposal. The project would provide two spaces per unit, as required by Trumansburg village zoning.

Audience members had mixed reactions to the plans presented by INHS Senior Developer Joe Bowes. Some appreciated the attention being paid to affordable housing, while one person said it was “very problematic” that Section 8-qualified tenants might move into the village. Others at the meeting expressed concern with traffic, drainage, potential population and having rentals separated from the owner-occupied units.

Another point of discussion was the possibility of units specifically designated for seniors. Bowes replied that while some buildings would have 1-bedroom, fully accessible apartment units on the first floor, that units would not be explicitly limited to seniors.

The mood in the room was respectful if tense at times. Some residents had gone in with their minds already made up, while others wanted to be more engaging and constructive in helping the project coalesce into a plan they would support.

“I want to send a message to the developer that there’s an opportunity for us to not just look at zoning, but to engage in a more collective manner to plan,” said village resident Paula Horrigan.

Fellow resident Joel Podkaminer agreed. “{A}s a mason, if you build a building on a good foundation, it will last a long time. Also, concrete is unforgiving. Once it’s poured, there it stays. So get it right.”

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