ROTTERDAM – Of the 20 Rotterdam residents who showed up Thursday evening at the Town Board meeting or sent in emails regarding a proposed apartment complex on Curry Road, 18 of them were against the complex.
Town Hall was so packed for the public hearing on the requested change an officer was stationed at the board room door throughout the meeting.
The development slated for 2625 Curry Road was originally planned to be 208 multi-family residential units. However, developer William Hoblock changed his proposal and dropped one building, reducing the development to 182 units, and moved the apartments farther away from an adjacent neighborhood and instead wants to build a playground area.
Hoblock is asking the town to change the zoning for the project. Right now the land is zoned for single-family residential, retail business and light industrial. Hoblock wants it changed to a multi-family residential.
During the public hearing resident Mollie Collins, who is running for Town Board, handed over two different petitions totaling 239 signatures from people throughout the town against the project.
She, like many others, spoke on three main topics regarding the proposal: increased traffic; the Planning Commission vote against the development; and the town’s unfinished comprehensive plan.
“It is a mess at certain times of the day already,” said resident Victor Murdock about the traffic in the area.
The development would be located on Curry Road, one of the busiest, if not the busiest street in town. It also wouldn’t be far from the ramps to I-890.
“To put another 200-300 cars on that road is insanity,” Murdock said.
Murdock went on to quote parts of the August planning commission meeting where member Clark Collins stated: “I think we need to start putting our residents’ needs before developers” and “we have to start listening to what residents want and they don’t want more apartments.”
Many residents living in adjacent neighborhoods said their streets would become cut-throughs for traffic, causing safety concerns for families that live in those areas.
“Just from a safety perspective I think this is going to have an impact on the welfare of our children and our families,” said John Miller, who is an avid cyclist living on Stoodley Place.
Many residents also spoke about how the Planning Commission opposed in a 6-1 vote the request for a zoning change. Sara Leach of Eugene Drive said the vote reflected a survey residents took to help update the town’s comprehensive plan, laying out what residents want the town to look like in the future.
In the survey, most residents discouraged any land use that resulted in high-density housing. Residents did want to see more single-family homes.
But some people did support the project.
Richard Megyesi lives at The Residences at Vista Square, another property that was developed by Richbell Capital, of which Hoblock is the executive vice president. Megyesi said he likes the complex and would support another in the area.
“I really believe there’s a need for more living conditions in this town,” he said.
He said he moved here three years ago and had been aggressively searching for an apartment before finding a place at Vista Square.
Resident John Martini was also in favor of the project. He said he’d like to see more modern apartment complexes come into the area and is actually on the waiting list for Vista Square.
“Personally I think it would be good for the town,” he said. “Just because I’m living in an apartment doesn’t mean I’m not going to put down roots.”
Former Town Board member Robert Godlewski asked the board to keep the public hearing open and provide all the documents related to the project for public viewing, including the transcribed minutes of the August Planning Commission meeting, which have not been posted on the town website.
The board did not keep the public hearing open, but did not vote on the matter. Supervisor Steven Tommasone did not indicate whether a vote would take place at the next Town Board meeting.
Hoblock did attend the meeting but did not speak.