January 28, 2014
City rail project to start in spring
$1.1M rail shipping facility will be built at former Superfund site off Pendleton St.
Plans for the city owned rail spur on the former Rosen site were discussed, while public hearing dates were set for two housing projects originally proposed last year at the city Planning Commission meeting on Monday night.
Mack Cook, city director of finance and administration, described the transloading facility plans, which include a rail spur and would serve as a place to load and off-load cargo for businesses in the area, including Marietta Corp. and Gutchess Lumber.
Cook said the city does not intend to sell the property and will instead lease it to the New York, Susquehanna & Western Railway. One benefit of the site would be easing traffic congestion at the intersection of Clinton Avenue and Port Watson Street where train off-loading closes off the street during the day.
The facility will be built on a former federal Superfund site, meaning there will be limited development. A clay cap put over contaminants, which is 2 feet below the surface, can’t be pierced.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation and federal Environmental Protection Agency both stay updated on the plans for the site due to clean-up efforts from both agencies. Cleanup work finished in 2002.
Cook said that construction on the $1.1 million facility would begin in the spring.
Also Monday, developer Jim Reeners came before the commission, requesting a property line adjustment for two adjoining lots, 91 Lincoln Ave. and 93-95 Lincoln Ave.
Reeners had originally hoped to build a six-unit student housing building on the three properties but was denied a use variance in November that would allow him to demolish two houses.
Reeners now plans to renovate 91 Lincoln Ave. and demolish the house at 93-95 Lincoln Ave to be replaced by a two-family home. Moving the property line will allow 91 Lincoln to have the necessary lot width to be considered for two-family housing as well. Reeners has yet to purchase the 91 Lincoln Ave. site but will retain the building’s footprint even if he decides to demolish and rebuild that house as well.
A public hearing on the change is set for the Feb. 24 commission meeting and will begin at 5:15 p.m.
Following Reeners’s public hearing, the board will hold another public hearing at 6:30 for a proposed commercial housing at 1 South Ave.
Developer Ed Bennedy intends to renovate the 3,200-foot former Lehigh Valley passenger depot into 14 rooming units, four studio apartments, a one-bedroom apartment and a two-bedroom apartment.
It was the second time Bennedy was before the board for a site plan review on the property. Once again, incomplete drawings that did not fully identify project changes, such as the lowering of one door to allow ground-level access, plagued the review.
Commissioner Denise Bushnell also expressed concern about the potential historic nature of the property. Concerns about the change in nature of the site were also expressed by neighbors of the site, according to Chair Jeff Gebhardt.
Those concerns were enough for the commission to request a public hearing at the Feb. 24 meeting though the project does not require one by law.
Bennedy said he believed there is demand for the low-cost housing options that his project would provide.
“There’s so many people on Social Security that need rooms,” Bennedy said.
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