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Advocating “Cayuga Village”

The following is a letter by county legislator Will Burbank, providing further explanation of the nature of the “Cayuga Village” project and stating his support of it. Opposition to this project is posted on this site at “Objections to “Cayuga Village.”

Will Burbank

West Hill Neighbors,

On Tuesday night the Tompkins County Legislature will be voting on whether to sell the last remaining parcel of the former Biggs complex, near the hospital, to a developer who is proposing to create a new neighborhood of approximately 60 townhouses to be called Cayuga Village.  The goal is to provide high quality, energy-efficient housing for people with low to moderate incomes.

Though rented at first, these townhouses would become owner-occupied over time and would  be marketed to attract long-term residents who have the dream and likelihood of eventual ownership in mind.  Rents would be based on the income of renters and tenants would eventually be able to buy the units for a reduced amount, based on the length of time they had lived there, thus encouraging a stable neighborhood of long-term residents.

It would be managed by Better Housing for Tompkins County, a local non-profit with a long and positive track record in this community.   Better Housing would continue to manage the complex after the individual units transition to being owner-occupied.

The units would be clustered, leaving two thirds of the site open for gardens, play areas, paths and natural habitat etc.  It includes many features to promote a sense of connectedness and help create a real neighborhood.  The undeveloped portion of the property would be permanently protected by a deed restriction or conservation easement, enforceable by Tompkins County.

I voted to move this project forward in committee and, barring new and seriously conflicting information, expect to do so when it comes before the full legislature. I support it because I believe this will help fill a pressing need for more affordable housing in our community.  From experience, I know that not all housing deemed “affordable” is alike.  I sincerely believe that this project has the potential to serve as a positive model for similar projects, elsewhere, that will help address global climate change.

Though this would be a major step in the process, it is far from the last.   If the sale is approved, the developer will then go to the Town of Ithaca for a determination regarding zoning.   They will also need to apply for funding under the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program.   And they will develop detailed plans for the buildings and the site which will be subject to approval by the town and the SEQR environmental review process.

I understand  that  not everyone agrees and that people of good will can see things differently.  I just wanted you know why I will  be voting in support.

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