A project designed to offer green living in Ithaca could be stalled by city zoning requirements that some say aren't helping the environment. Tamara Lindstrom tells us why, and what advocates are asking the city to do.
TOMPKINS, N.Y. -- It's a proposed project that promises green living in Ithaca's Collegetown neighborhood.
"It will allow the city to expand its tax base. It will have 103 residents with many commercial spaces," said pedestrian advocate Daniel Keough. "There will be a TCAT bus stop. We'll be able to promote walking and biking much more."
The 50-unit, pedestrian-friendly Collegetown Crossing apartment building will have space for bikes and offer bus passes and carshare credits to residents, and something neighbors say is desperately lacking - a grocery store.
"Collegetown is really a food desert," Keough said. "There's no place to get healthy foods."
But a local co-op is jumping at the opportunity.
"Our goal is to provide access to healthy food to all the citizens of Ithaca," said Alexis Alexander, membership manager for GreenStar Co-op. "We focus a lot on local farmers and organic food choices. And this project is perfect for us because the developer wants this to be a pedestrian building where people aren't going to have cars. thousands of students walk by the building each day."
But the project is facing a major obstacle. Right now the plans don't meet city zoning codes, which require 57 parking spaces to be built on the 60 foot wide lot.
"As I'm hearing from students and people in Collegetown, the number one reason they have a car is to drive to a grocery store," Keough said.
Supporters of the project are petitioning the city to make an exception, saying the new residents won't bring cars to crowd the already busy streets.
"Something that will reduce the need for driving, reduce the need to have a car, is being prevented by city zoning that says you need to have spaces for cars that won't be there," Keough said.
Calls to the mayor's office and the city planning department were not returned Friday. The proposal will go in front if the planning board on the 28th. The public is welcome to comment.