Village boards pow wow
Representatives from the village board, planning board and zoning board of appeals took the unusual step to meet together to discuss the Krebs Project Saturday Sept. 18 at 9 a.m.
Mayor Bob Green said the proposal was so unusual that the special meeting was an important step in guiding the village’s future. First, because Krebs is a historic feature most residents would like to see preserved and evolved, and secondly, there is an overall parking problem in the village that needs to be addressed. He also said to keep in mind that this was a working session – meaning, more of a brainstorming.
There was an explanation of the zoning regulations by the planning board and ZBA’s attorney Riccardo T. Galbato.
Ultimately, the planning agreed to meet again for more discussion before the official Oct. 7 public meeting.
Pretty much everyone in the room agreed that not only is parking a problem in the village, but especially on West Genesee Street.
The question came up – “was the parking proposed by the owner or required?” And the answer is “both.”
Planning Board Member Toby Millman said that if the restaurant was to be built today, parking would be required in the plan.
Planning Board Chair Bruce Kenan said the applicant (Andrew Weitsman) made it clear that he wanted parking.
The Krebs project involves three structures that each host extended backyard acreage. Project architect Andy Ramsgard, had presented Plan A to subdivide the properties to include a 60 car parking lot behind the structures. That plan had a 25 foot buffer with a fence, tree line and berm between the lot and the neighbors. Ramsgard said he organized the actual position of the parked cars to shed the least amount of light outward.
He also noted that based on zoning rules the calculation of one car for each four customers would mean a 70 car lot (which he reduced to 60). Keep in mind that the renovated Krebs will actually reduce the total number of seats. That number is based on seating allowed on the first floor, second floor, front porch and patio.
The renovation enlarges the main restaurant’s footprint, but by tearing down two outbuildings now used for operations, it actually reduces the total square footage.
But Ramsgard had revised Plan A, presenting option B right before the overall boards meeting, which would exclude the eastern most property’s rear acreage (Loveless homestead,) and scale back to 30 parking spots with a circular drive.
Trustee Hubbard asked about the intended use for the former Loveless residence, as there is no existing driveway. He wondered ,what if this property was sold off in the future? Where would the new property owners park?
Banuski agreed with Hubbard. “Make sure consideration is given to this property,” she said.
Ramsgard said his Plan A included parking for the Loveless house, the three-family house to the west of Krebs and for the restaurant, including handicap parking.
ZBA member Lee Buttolph asked if there was a difference between parking one or 30 or 60 cars in the back. Planning Board Member Marc Angelillo said, “Really what is the difference between 40 or 60 cars? We need the parking.”
Mayor Green said he had letters from residents on West Lake Street with concerns about losing their views from the back of their properties. These residents would have the most to lose – as the three Krebs properties have always maintained this large green space in the rear.
Meanwhile, Ramsgard reported at the initial village planning board meeting that the residents next door to the Krebs properties and across the street would be delighted with the creation of off street parking.
The new Krebs
Village attorney Mike Byrne brought up the question of delivery trucks. These now back in off of Genesee Street into the existing drive.
Ramsgard said his original parking plan A allowed for a 65 foot trailer to come in and circle out.
The project’s director of operations, Rosalie’s owner Gary Robinson, said delivery trucks will follow an operator’s direction on timing.
He said Weitsman’s plan is to keep the hours of operation similar to Krebs, meaning only dinner and brunch – but to extend it to four seasons. Many attendees wondered what would happen if these plans changed. For example, the restaurant opens for breakfast or lunch or decides to go out onto its property for catering.
Millman said, “If Krebs becomes more successful, I’d like to see that addressed today, rather than have to revisit this in a retroactive way.”
Banuski asked, “What happens to all those cars if there is no (extra) parking for a vastly expanded restaurant?”
Sue Jones asked if Krebs project’s proposed not for profit status kept it off the tax roles. The answer was “No.”
She also wondered if the parking lot was not created, could the back acreage be subdivided and sold off as building lots. The answer was that there was room for one or two houses on that property.
It was noted that the village boards have been dealing with Weitsman during the construction of his new home on West Lake Street, and that he has been willing to compromise and even willing to spend his own money to make things work – for example paying for new sewers on West Lake Street.
Additional questions arose
A lot of the parking on West Genesee Street is village employees partly because of the reconfiguration of the municipal lot. Is there a better way to handle overall village employee parking?
Kenan said the planning board has put together several unofficial village parking proposals, perhaps it’s time to make these official. He also reiterated his concern about the balance between commercial and residential properties in a neighborhood.
“We’re blessed with a healthy economy,” he said, noting that perhaps there was luck involved in preserving the charm of Skaneateles’ village, essentially holding back the kind of booming commercial development that has reconfigured Fayetteville. “Weitsman wants what it was – no lunch, breakfast, catering,” Robinson said. “To keep it like it was. His intent is the right idea.”
Kenan stuck a nerve with planners when he said, “He won’t necessarily be the owner forever.”