Rochester Planning Commission Votes to Move Forward
On Monday evening, the Rochester Planning Commission voted to move forward on the proposed 131-unit Mill Town Apartment complex in downtown Rochester. The 18-acre site is identified as a “special projects” area in the Master Land Use Plan for the City of Rochester. Therefore, the project requires approval by City Council. The site is located at 320 E. Second Street and 340 E. Mill Street.
Developers have more flexibility within a “special projects” area and current zoning regulations may not affect the design as they would in other districts of the city. City Council meets Monday, November 25 to consider the positive recommendation of the Planning Commission.
Residents Voiced Concerns
Several Rochester residents and others voiced concerns over the project at the November 18 Special Meeting. Two main issues rose to surface. The first issue was the reconstruction and relocation of the Clinton River Trail that slices through the site and the second objection was the change of view for residents of the Millrace Condominiums.
The proposal calls for a land swap between the city of Rochester and the developer. This will allow the Clinton River Trail (owned by city) to be moved to run along the river (owned by Soave Real Estate Group). Currently, the trail slices through the developer’s site. While the trail will be completely rebuilt with landscaping, rain gardens and lighting, residents are concerned about flooding due to lowering the trail and moving it closer to the river. According to the developers, the new trail will be 12-inches above the 100-year floodplain level (the standard used in new construction) and an alternative route through the apartment complex using sidewalks will be available should flooding of the trail occur.
Millrace Condo residents will have their view of the river area restricted with the construction of the proposed two-story apartments. A few residents have suggested the developer remove or relocate one-to-three of the buildings that would be between their condominium building and the Clinton River. The developer has indicated they want the plan not to change and stated the new apartments will be attractive, landscaped and will offer a pleasant view for Millrace residents.
Every member of the Planning Commission voted “yes” (to move the plan forward to a City Council vote) except one. The one “no” vote was from the Chairman of the commission, David Gassen. “I do like the development” said Gassen, however “residents showed up for a public hearing” and these residents made a “living choice that is now changing due to the land swap.” Gassen’s concerns reflected the concerns of the Millrace Condo residents that would be losing some of their view of the river. A “better outcome,” said Gassen, might exist while preserving more of the view that the Millrace Condo residents currently have.
The project itself was largely favored by all the stakeholders in the room. “This is a good project for the area,” said Mayor Stuart Bikson, “Trail people are in favor of this” and “you need people downtown.”
Rochester Media will follow this project as it moves through the process of application. Illustrations and renditions will be made available next week once the city council votes on November 25.