Editor’s Notebook

Editor’s NotebookWendy Post.

October came in quickly with many exciting things taking place outdoors, and in-between bouts of rain. We reported online and in print this week of a major disaster declaration that has been issued for seven counties, to include Tioga, that sustained damage during severe storms and flash flooding that occurred from Aug. 13-15, 2018. And although there was flooding after those dates, and in mid-September, funding is still heading this way. You can find our feature in this week’s edition, along with photos taken by Josh Westbrook during the flash flooding experienced in September.

Also happening within the government, locally, is a zoning request from Two Plus Four Construction, the same company that proposed to build affordable housing in the Turtle Town area of Owego.

We reported on last week’s public meeting, in which Sue Kimmel, owner of Two Plus Four Construction, explained her intention to a crowded room at the Tioga County Office Building. During that meeting, Kimmel also told those in attendance that she didn’t even need the zoning change and that she can build there anyhow. For Kimmel, having the zoning changed from an R2 to an R3 would allow her to construct units, verses sub-dividing. 

The next step for the project, however, was at the Village of Owego Board Meeting on Monday where it was hoped that a vote to allow the zoning change would be made.

The four-hour meeting, however, did not bring resolve to this project. 

On Tuesday, LeAnn Tinney, director of Economic Development in Tioga County, stated that the board approved the Applied Technology zoning change, but tabled any decision on the Catherine Nobiletti request and kept the public hearing open. 

Tinney is hopeful that they will close the hearing at their next regular meeting and take a vote at that time. 

In the meantime, Kimmel has agreed to another public information meeting. As of this print, however, we do not have a date or time for this meeting. 

If Kimmel moves forward on the 19 acres owned by Nobiletti, the proposed building will have ten one-bedroom units, six three-bedroom units, and 24 two-bedroom units. Of the units, ten will be for residents from Achieve that are able to live independently. As for the rent, Kimmel estimates the units will run from $650 to $1,000 a month.

To keep it simple, the zoning change requested would trim some of the cost for Kimmel and the builders if approved. Kimmel already stated that it could cost an additional $300,000, easily, if she were required to sub-divide.

But as Tinney stated in an earlier interview, the power of the vote is with the village board. The next board meeting is planned for Oct. 15. Keep an eye open for times and the location.

Also in local government news, a committee is nearly formed and plans are in place to begin working on the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) and the $10 million investment in downtown Owego by New York State. 

The planning process is kicking off on Wednesday, Oct. 10, from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Owego Apalachin Central School’s LGI Room, located at 1 Sheldon Guile Blvd. in Owego.

The first community engagement event will be held on Oct. 24, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Tioga Opportunities, Inc., located at 9 Sheldon Guile Blvd. in Owego. After that, there will be project ideas and design workshops in January and a draft plan presentation in February.

We did have an opportunity to learn who was selected for the committee thus far. Members include Mike Baratta, Village of Owego mayor, co-chair (required by New York State); LeeAnn Tinney, Regional Council, TEAM Tioga, co-chair (required by New York State); Marte Sauerbrey, Regional Council, County Legislature; Fran VanHousen, Village of Owego, Planning and Zoning Board liaison; RJ Pasto, resident, veteran and student; Bradley Crews, resident, Lake Street business operator, and president of the Historic Owego Marketplace; Sister Mary O’Brien, Chamber member, not-for-profit director; Jeff Winchell, village fire department, village police; Maureen Abbott, housing; Corey Green, Owego Apalachin School District, Chamber member; Nadine Bigsby, resident, Owego Historic Preservation Committee; Tom Marzo, Southside resident; Christine DiStefano, Tioga County Council on the Arts; and John Hitchings, North Avenue business owner. 

Tinney noted on Thursday that there is one more member pending, but they have not heard back from New York State yet on an approval. 

You can learn more about the DRI by visiting www.villageofowego.com/downtown-revitalization-initiative-dri/.

Wendy Post is the editor of The Owego Pennysaver Press in Owego, N.Y. and The Troy Pennysaver Plus in Troy, Pa. Post also serves as a contributing writer to several daily newspapers, as well as other weekly publications owned by Sample Media Group.

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