ONEONTA _ The Common Council may ask SUNY Oneonta to pitch its plans for a 200-bed housing complex to the public.
The college recently bought a 2.6-acre lot at the end of Clinton Street, a dead end. The property borders the southwest edge of campus. SUNY Oneonta is planning to build 50 4-bedroom apartment-style units. Each unit would have its own kitchen, bathroom and laundry room, consisting of one washer and one dryer, according to plans included in a Site Utility Feasibility Study prepared for the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York.
Fourth Ward Alderman Mike Lynch submitted a late resolution for the Common Council agenda that calls for a public presentation by the college of its plans to build more student housing. The council meets at 7:30 p.m. tonight at City Hall
The college campus, like all state land, is exempt from local land-use regulations, so the city has no power to approve or deny the project. However, the college is considering using municipal water and sewer lines, which would involve city approval.
The status of the project prompted some concerns at a recent Zoning Task Force public hearing.
"Frankly, I heard about it from people in the neighborhood that this was proposed," Lynch said.
Paul Scheele, who lives across the street from the planned expansion, said the biggest concern for neighboring residents and property owners was a parking lot for the complex that would be accessed through Clinton Street.
Scheele said the street, with its steep hill, is tough to navigate in winter, and a vast influx of cars could lead to serious problems. Local residents were "appalled" at the prospect, he said.
The plans indicate the college is preparing to have one parking space per student.
But SUNY Oneonta administrators, including Todd Foreman, vice president for finance and administration, seem receptive to changes and even indicated they would place the parking lot closer to campus, Scheele said.
"It was generally agreed that they were going to flip that project around," said Scheele, who is a retired SUNY Oneonta professor. "They have made that change already on their own volition."
This would mean the parking lot would be accessed through the campus and not Clinton Street.
But Scheele said he still has concerns, mainly over a potential increase in pedestrians, cars and taxis using the dead-end street as a drop-off point for students.
The resolution as proposed by Lynch states that numerous city residents are concerned about issues such as increased vehicle and pedestrian traffic, environmental impact, impact on city infrastructure, safety of students and residents, impact on surrounding properties through intrusive lighting and general impact on the quality of life for city residents.
"I am glad they are building student housing; I really am," Lynch said.
But the college needs to demonstrate it is concerned about being a good neighbor, Lynch said.
SUNY Oneonta spokesman Hal Legg said the final design is far from finished.
"There are a number of possibilities, design and otherwise, for construction of this nature. The college continues to evaluate them. The Site Utility Feasibility Study for the project, which includes input from the city, was completed in January. College leadership has met with the mayor and several other municipal officials since, and the city's continued interest is welcome, of course," Legg said.
A State Environmental Quality Review will be done, which will identify any environmental concerns, according to Legg.
"The college hopes to have an architect in place soon." Legg said. "However, and I can't stress this enough, it's a long haul from the planning phase to construction. In fact, we don't anticipate breaking ground until the fall of 2012."