On Nov. 2, the Village of Lansing Board of Trustees and the Lansing Planning Board held a joint meeting to host an informal discussion on proposed changes to the Lansing Meadows senior housing complex. The discussion centered around Lansing Meadow developer Eric Goetzman’s request to increase the number of housing subdivisions from 18 to 30 units and to reduce the regulation for minimum lot size from 10,000 square feet to 2,600 square feet.
Mayor Don Hartill said he would agree to the aforementioned changes of the last meeting, mainly to move things along given the slow progression of the development, which has lasted over 10 years.
“This has been in front of me for almost half of my tenure as mayor,” he said. “Since then, there have been a number of back and forth … I can see this going forward with a clear agreement that this is it: 30 units max.”
Other trustee and planning board members were not as eager to approve changes, expressing frustration at Goetzman for continually asking for modifications.
“There have been so many concessions made by the village, but very few made by the developer,” Lisa Schleelein, chair of the planning board, said. “We have wasted an enormous amount of time constantly being approached by the developer for modifications and changes.”
“I think we’re all exhausted by this,” Schleelein added. “It just seems time to suggest that maybe we have some rights here also, as the village.”
Trustee Ronny Hardaway was concerned about a lack of recreational areas in the area and the impact it would have on people affected by the pandemic, if the developers were approved to add more subdivisions.
“We’re almost two and a half times above the originally proposed 12 units on two-thirds of the land ... so there will be room for a few trees, but there is no recreational area on the property,” he said. “In light of recent circumstances, it has become very apparent that recreational space is needed for people who are trapped or quarantined within their homes.”
“I agree with the planning board that the 18 units that are currently approved should be the end of the development on that property,” he said. “It is our right as the trustees – if we don’t feel that 30 units on that property is what the village really wants – we have the right to say no more development on the property.”
Goetzman cited a need for senior housing, particularly for people 55 and older, as outlined in the Tompkins County Housing Strategy from 2017.
“They talk about retired seniors who cannot find suitable housing ... who may move into housing poorly suited for them ... maybe two-story homes that do not attract notice until a fall or traumatic outcome raises alarms,” he said. “The village should have a broad range of high-quality, safe housing options for a diverse housing population that includes homeowners, renters and seniors.”
Carolyn Greenwald, a member of the planning board, said she was concerned the units will not stay exclusively as senior housing.
“I worry that if all the individual units are sold that the enforcement of it as senior housing is going to be precarious,” she said. “If somebody comes in who is 55 and has a 12-year-old, is someone not going to sell it to them? I just don’t see it staying as senior housing.”
Village Attorney William Troy pointed out that no official decisions could be made during the meeting since the agenda only listed the conversation as an “informal discussion.”?
It was decided that Goetzman would go to the planning board next week. Following that, the planning board will make a recommendation to the Board of Trustees regarding what to approve moving forward.