The Penn Yan Planning Board has approved the site plan for the senior citizen housing units project on South Avenue in the village. Work on the 8-unit project should begin as soon as possible says Carol Genecco, one of the developers.

The project is adjacent to the Keuka Shores project under construction in the town of Milo on Lake Street.

At the same time, the Keuka Gardens project on Brown Street Extension is on schedule, and developer Home Leasing says residents will begin moving in next January.

One of the features of that project is a sidewalk leading to South Avenue near the intersection with Brown Street along a steep slope in the State Department of Transportation’s right-of-way.

Development Manager Megan Houppert says Home Leasing first proposed building the apartment complex without a sidewalk, but neighbors and village officials were concerned about the walkability into the village.

The developer proposed using the small strip of land that connects the complex’s utilities to South Avenue as a walking path to connect to the existing sidewalk infrastructure, where there is less of a slope, but the neighbors were opposed to having a path next to their houses.  “So, we discussed putting a sidewalk in the DOT right of way, which both the DOT & town signed off on,” explains Houppert. She says the owner of property next to the planned sidewalk contacted her with concerns about the safety of the sidewalk. That property owner, Mickey Orr, also attended the Sept. 9 village planning board meeting to express his concerns about the safety of the planned sidewalk.

“Unfortunately we’re too far down the line to do away with the sidewalk at this point,” says Houppert, adding, “It has been approved from a planning perspective and is part of the development that our funders agreed to. The slope does require it to be a creative design, but ultimately it will ensure the residents of Keuka Gardens have safe pedestrian access to the village, which was the goal for Home Leasing, the neighbors and the village.”

Orr said the sidewalk will not be safe for anyone using a wheelchair, and it will be difficult to maintain during the winter. Planning Board member Sarah Davis said she is concerned people will walk or use wheelchairs on the shoulder of Brown Street Extension if there is no sidewalk.