By Nadine Cafaro
Dialogue continues about a 42-residential unit development in Crawford meant to house veterans, seniors and the workforce. The debatable topic was discussed again at a public hearing last Wednesday with the same unnamed resident speaking up as last time. However, this time around, more locals participated.
Engineer Vincent Pietrzak of Pietrzak & Pfau gave the rundown on this project.
“The veterans, senior and workforce housing facility is accessed off the driveway leading to the Pine Crest Apartments. It’s 42 units and the three story building has an elevator in the center corridors, so it’s 100 percent handicap accessible. The driveway is accessed off Boniface Drive [and there are] 61 parking spaces provided,” said Piertrzak.
The owner of the property and applicant is Jonah Mandelbaum, who owns Warwick Properties, LLC. This project was originally introduced last year, and they’ve been working with the planning board for several months.
Crawford Planning Board Chairwoman Linda Zwart mentioned that their town engineer is still working on wetlands and stormwater issues. She also read a letter from Maria Pongracz, president of the Pine Bush Seniors Club.
“The location near the existing senior complex makes sense so that we can walk to the new units and visit without the need for transportation. In addition, this location is near the new walking trail and exercise area that is currently being built in the suburbs,” Pongracz wrote.
A resident, who asked not to be named, spoke at the least hearing mainly about environmental concerns and on behalf of seniors at the nearby senior development, Pine Crest Apartments. This time, she read some comments from them. The seniors also asked to remain anonymous.
One comment stated,“The ambulance is called often, adding more traffic in that corner, where there’s already traffic coming from Hannaford and from the three nearby schools will slow them down. That puts mine and my husband’s life in jeopardy.”
The resident also questioned the wildlife assessment, which Pietrzak responded to, saying that the EAS claimed the only major species on the site is the Indiana Bat.
“If you look carefully at all the records, it also indicates that not enough data has been collected on any of this property, and that more research needs to be done,” the resident replied, stating that she has often heard frogs when she drives by.
A few other residents spoke, mentioning worry about the future of Crawford with a large development like this, as well as the bugs in the area it’s being built in. Someone also brought up their local grocery store being light, and that they are already at their max in their town.
Crawford Town Supervisor Charles E. Carnes also spoke again, this time refuting many things that he stated were posted online. He clarified that it wasn’t section 8 housing and that no promises or approvals were given. Further, Carnes explained that this housing development in the long run would count toward the proposed housing mandate from Governor Kathy Hochul that the town is fighting.
“We seek to protect rural areas of the town and recently came out strongly against the state plan to overrule home rule, the laws that have been in place for many years. We have to build a certain number of houses if it goes through. I don’t know that the courts are going to roll it, but this would count towards those houses,” said Carnes.
He also reiterates how highly he thinks of Mandelbaum. “The builder is perhaps the most reputable builder on projects in the entire tri-state area,” Carnes mentioned.
A worker of Mandelbaum’s, who also remains anonymous, stated the need for this type of housing. “Another person called me from a complex in the immediate area. She just signed the lease and her landlord raised her rent $1,500 a month. I had a veteran call me today, 64-years-old from a hotel room in tears because he could no longer afford the rent he was paying and he’s been in a huge, huge need for affordable housing.”
The conversation then shifted to drinking water in Crawford, which Carnes addressed. “There is no drinking water ban in Crawford,” he said, after Zwart encouraged people with water issues to address the town.
Zwart closed the public hearing for the night, but reiterated that comments were heard and that they are still waiting on more information from the town engineer.
“I think we’re good for tonight,” said Zwart.