“We have to get it right the first time,’’ he said, “or there can be dire consequences.’’
Oneonta Fire Chief Patrick Pidgeon said while a secondary access might happen in an ideal world, the idea isn’t on the table for Hillside Commons. The city has dead-end streets and culs-de-sac, he said, and the department has contingency plans.
However, two other concerns about the proposal have been raised, Pidgeon said. In two sections of the perimeter road around the apartment complex, the width is about 13 feet instead of the 26 feet set by state fire and building code, he said. The fire department’s aerial ladder truck, which could provide access to the fourth floor, requires 21 feet for setup, he said.
Oneonta Code Enforcement Officer Robert Chiappisi provided the code details about roadway width, Pidgeon said.
The building’s proposed height is another issue, Pidgeon said. Under the proposal, the fire department cannot reach the fourth floor of the building from the interior courtyard, Pidgeon said. Crews could take ladders into the courtyard area, he said, but the ladders only reach three stories, he said.
The same lack of access exists on the back side of the recently opened Courtyard by Marriott on Southside Oneonta, Pidgeon said, but the code issue was addressed by the town of Oneonta.
Newman Development engineers in designing the perimeter roadway were trying to conserve on the environmental impact of paving, Smetana said, but the proposed road has been widened to meet code, as requested.
Smetana said he wasn’t aware of the concerns about interior access to the fourth floor and he would check on the issue.
Plans and other documents related to Hillside Commons are available at the city’s website at www.oneonta.ny.us/oneonta/hillside-commons/
On April 15, Citizen Voices issued a statement reviewing the “pros and cons’’ of the proposed Hillside Commons. The group, a pro-business organization, said said it supported the project because it will meet a housing need of SUNY Oneonta and add to the tax base.
“We recommend that all the concerned parties work together to ensure that this project will take place while mitigating the concerns of the community,’’ Citizen Voices said.
The Otsego County Chamber statement said the project represents a “significant financial investment’’ by a developer with a “proven track record of building quality student housing.’’
“Modern student housing will make Oneonta much more competitive as a destination for college students,’’ the Chamber release said.