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Local News

April 23, 2013

Blodgett housing plan inches forward

(Continued)

On Monday, Jeffrey Smetana, vice president for student housing development with Newman Development, said that some information and recommendations raised during the April 10 meeting are being included in the final plans to be submitted to the Planning Commission.

No major changes are being made to the original proposal, Smetana said, but there wasn’t enough time before the city planners’ regularly scheduled April 17 meeting to make adjustments and for planners to review them.

“We’re hopeful that the schedule can stay on track,’’ Smetana said.”This is really how the process works. We’re still very comfortable with how it’s going.’’

The proposal calls for Hillside Commons to open for the 2014-15 academic year.

Save Oneonta, a group including residents, property owners, merchants, real-estate brokers and landlords, formed this year in opposition to Hillside Commons, citing oversupply of rental apartments among other possible negative economic impacts.  

SUNY Oneonta has remained neutral on the proposed student housing complex, and refrained from commenting on the project. The college enrolls about 5,720 full-time undergraduate students, officials said, and about 3,350 students live on campus.

Public hearings are required for the SEQR process and the application for tax abatement, but officials haven’t announced hearing dates.

At the April 10 meeting, some concerns were raised about lack of secondary access to site of the proposed complex.

Michael MacInerney, who lives in the Blodgett Road area, said he has attended many meetings about the project and remains particularly concerned about traffic and public safety issues.

MacInerney, a police officer with almost 30 years of law enforcement experience, said current plans don’t adequately address traffic control, pedestrian safety, police coverage and access to Blodgett Drive by emergency vehicles. Infrastructure issues may be addressed if systems don’t work, he said, but “public safety is not something that can always be fixed later.’’

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