A controversial road connection to Lori Drive from a planned housing tract would be made under a plan approved by the town Planning Board Monday night.
The decision, however, only resolves the connection issue for now, with further consideration expected in the coming years.
The board Monday approved a four-phase plan for the Cerone-Paulsen development, giving the final approval to the first phase of 15 houses. In doing so, the board kept a provision from a previous approval that would ultimately connect the development to Lori Drive with a full road.
The Planning Board didn’t formally consider a proposal touted as a compromise and championed by Lori Drive residents and the county. That proposal called for the connection to be permanently gated except for emergency use.
Kevin Walsh, board chairman, who supported the open connection in 2005 when the project was originally approved, said he reviewed the information again and came to the same conclusion.
“Nothing has changed,” Walsh said after the meeting. “For me, personally, I didn’t see any need to change at this point in time.”
The 73-unit subdivision was delayed for more than two years while the connection issue was fought in the courts. County officials and Lori Drive residents wanted no connection, while town officials and the Planning Board stressed full connection between neighborhoods. The residents of Lori Drive do not want through traffic between Lisha Kill Road and Route 5 via their road.
Connection proponents won in January when an appeals court gave the go-ahead. County officials then gave up any further appeals in exchange for an agreement from the developers that the gate be resubmitted to the Planning Board. The developers did that. The Planning Board was not bound to accept it, and the county would have to live with whatever the outcome was. Now the decision is for the full connection.
At least one Planning Board member appeared confused about that Monday. Other board members, however, attempted to clarify it.
“This board was not a party to that [compromise],” Planning Board member Leslie Gold said. “We were not consulted at all. The agreement was between the applicant, the county attorney and the town supervisor, who is also attorney to the county Legislature.”
Town Supervisor Joe Landry, who has been against the full connection, could not be reached for comment Monday evening.
Lori Drive resident Michael Ambrosino, however, expressed dismay at the vote and the lack of a final resolution when told of the results by a reporter.
“It would have been very nice to have had this settled,” Ambrosino said, “especially in the way the residents wanted it. I guess we just have to remain optimistic.”
Paulsen Development officials this year proposed the phasing plan, citing the housing downturn. Monday’s vote gave the final approval for 15 homes to be built.
It is expected to be at least two years before the Planning Board would consider a second phase, at which time the connection issue could be revisited.
More from The Daily Gazette: