By Richard Whitby
The Daily Star
---- — The Oneonta Planning Board voted Tuesday night at Oneonta High School to accept Newman Development Group’s application to build a 330-bed student housing complex on Blodgett Drive.
The vote came after Delaware Engineering, the city’s consultant on the application, submitted a letter, confirming that Newman had submitted the necessary documents.
“We believe the materials currently in hand comprise the completed application,” the letter said.
The vote was not an approval of the project, simply recognition that the application for the Hillside Commons project was complete.
The commission now has 62 days to accept or reject the application, but Newman is aiming for approval by the end of the month, the Delaware representative said, so that it can build the project this summer.
Delaware still had some problems with a berm that would contain storm runoff, he said.
All of the commissioners present voted to accept the applications.
The commission also heard a presentation by a traffic expert that the project would not have an adverse effect on traffic.
“You’re going to notice it,” Stephen R. Ferranti of SRF and Associates, said of the increase in traffic. But he added that the effects would not serious, even in scenarios that created more traffic than standard models predicted.
Ferranti, who is based in Rochester, said workers from SRF spent two days, Nov. 27 and 28, recording traffic at Blodgett and Bugbee Road, and Bugbee and East Street during peak periods.
He called the resulting numbers “relatively low,” indicating that the intersections could handle “significantly more traffic” than the models predicted.
Traffic along Blodgett was the chief topic during the ensuing public discussion, but most of those comments mostly centered on safety not congestion.
State Police Senior Investigator Michael McInerney, who lives nearby, provided blown-up photos and CDs containing additional photos to the commission members, illustrating what he said were dangerous blind spots in which drivers would not have time to react to the presence of pedestrians.
“Somebody could get killed or hurt bad,” he said.
Another speaker said the traffic study did nothing to address icing on Blodgett, and the possibility that the additional traffic would lead to accident deaths.