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Proposed Senior Housing in Cortland Brings Concerns From Neighbors

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During the City of Cortland’s Planning Commission on Monday, October 25th, a preliminary site plan for a proposed senior housing building on River St. near the bend of the street was presented.


Rendering of proposed senior housing development at 33 River St. Cortland. Image Courtesy of the City of Cortland Planning Commission.

The project would be located at 33 River St. The housing project would be only for those aged 62 years and older and are income eligible. The building would be 3 stories with 53 single bedroom apartments, each apartment would be given one parking space for a total of 53 parking spots.

Two variances would be needed for the project, the first, a variance for the parking as there is not enough parking for what city zoning allows for. Vice Chair of the Cortland Planning Commission Jim Reeners mentioned the second variance the developers would need is due to the building being setback farther than the 40 foot limit, and would not be an issue as it was an oversight in the city zoning.

Residents neighboring the project however, expressed concern of what the project may bring to their street. One of them noted they live on River St. and only a few houses away, but have experienced issues with other affordable housing facilities in the city. His concerns were of how to ensure this new development would possible crime, specifically drug usage/dealings out of the new building.

“My only concern is I moved my mother-in-law into the senior housing over here on Port Watson St. Which started off as senior housing, but really now it is anyone who has an income eligibility or disability or this or that and they have run drug rings out of it now. They have issues with homeless people they cannot evict. So really it is kinda becoming this major issue and that’s the last thing I’d want anywhere near where I’m raising a 4 year old child.” One of the residents, who was unnamed, said to the commission.

Developers assured neighbors that the project would only house those aged 62 years and older and would not accept Section-8. The apartment would also have a building manager working 40 hours a week and emergency 24-hour maintenance.

Another neighbor asked about the overgrowth that the property has seen as it has sat vacant for a number of years to a point where the overgrowth was beginning to knock over a fence dividing the proposed senior housing property to that of the neighbors. Developers reassured that the overgrowth would be removed, new trees and shrubs would be planted and fencing would go up to create privacy from the homes that border the property.

No vote was taken during the meeting as the discussion was a preliminary site plan review for the project. The preliminary meeting gave the developer an opportunity to address concerns that were mentioned in a future meeting with the planning commission. The Cortland County Planning board is expected to review the project and send its recommendations to the City Planning Commission in time for their next meeting.

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