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osmica plan tilted

It was good news Monday for the Dutch Harvest Farms events venue project.  After an uncomfortable negotiation with Planning Board members on sound mitigation and a few other details the Planning Board unanimously approved the site plan review.  But the Osmica project on Emmons Road faced more opposition, at a continuation of the project's public hearing Monday, by neighbors who fear their properties will be subject to stormwater flooding, light and noise pollution.

Owners Kurt Martin and Allison Trdan tried to assuage some of neighbors' concerns in a written response as well as during Monday's edition of the public hearing.  Martin presented some clarifications to the site plan, and Trdan answered questions about their intentions regarding how the property will be used.  She said that the couple is planning to host daytime events for the most part, at least for now.

"We're mostly operating as a B&B in the off season," Trdan said. "Events are seasonal, so it's not like this is happening every night all year 'round with headlights bothering you.  And that's our intention, to minimize the impact."

The Osmica project proposes to convert existing buildings on a 19.1 acre lot into a wedding venue by converting an existing house and carriage house into a Bed & Breakfast, and a barn into an events venue.  The most significant change to the outside of the property would be a parking lot large enough to accommodate an estimated 280 people for events.  Aside from the parking lot most of the construction is anticipated to take place inside the existing structures.

In their written remarks the couple said, "We are aware that this farm was the first house established in the area. It was here long before any of the other currently existing roads and houses were built. It has seen much change since the 1790's, and with each new generation taking stewardship of the land and buildings, the use has changed as well."

Several of the dozen or more speakers admonished the Planning Board to use the long form environmental review, saying that stormwater flooding, already a serious issue in their neighborhood, could be made worse with the addition of a large parking lot on the Osmica property.

"It was agreed two months ago that the long form was going to be provides," said Planning Board member Larry Sharpsteen. "To be consistent with what we requested of the other (Dutch Harvest Farm) venue... they provided a long form and we should ask these people to provide a long form as well."

Some speakers questioned whether Martin and Trdan's plan to use rooms in multiple buildings for a B&B is an allowed use, saying the definition in Town Law sets the number of bedrooms allowed in one building.

"Owner-occupied residence resulting from a conversion of a one-family dwelling, used for providing overnight accommodations and a morning meal to not more than ten (10) transient lodgers, and containing at least three but not more than five bedrooms for such lodgers," reads the portion of Article III of the Lansing land use ordinance that defines Bed & Breakfasts.

When some neighbors accused town officials of considering a recommendation to accept the site plan review, Acting Planning Board Chair Al Fiorille said that the board's process has only just begun, and that public comments are being collected now to be carefully considered when the board deliberates on accepting the site plan review.

He agreed to keep the public hearing open at least until the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) rules on an appeal filed by Cathy Barron.  The appeal seeks an interpretation of the zoning ordinance, specifically asking the board to determine that a Bed & Breakfast / Reception venue is not an allowed use in RA (Rural Agricultural) zoning.  The ZBA will consider the appeal at its March 19th meeting, but may not deliver a decision that night.  Most recently the ZBA took three meetings over a month and a half before rendering a decision on an appeal to rescind a building permit for the Lansing Rod & Gun Club.  The ZBA ruling on the Osmica project would certainly impact the Planning Board's deliberations and decisions it could make based on the outcome of the appeal.

Planning Board members said they need more information from the Town engineer on why drainage won't be a problem for neighboring properties, and agreed to keep the public hearing open through its next meeting on March 25th, if not longer.

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