Will Torrey or Maxim make the first move?

Loujane Johns

The Town of Torrey wants to know what Maxim Development wants to do.  Maxim Development wants to know what the Town of Torrey will let them do. These and other questions were asked at the Dec. 4 Town of Torrey Zoning Board of Appeals meeting.

Maxim Development Group, LLC is based in Plainfield, N.J.  A description and site plan drawing were sent to Torrey Building and Zoning Officer Ron Kenville as an application to the Town of Torrey for a preliminary site plan review in June of 2006.  Maxim presented a plan for a proposed development of a 47.602 acre parcel on Downey Road, south of Dresden.  The property is known as the Eskildsen lakefront parcel.  Maxim has still not purchased the property.

The developers sought a density variance from the town.  The original proposed plan was for 34 single family units, five other buildings with three town houses and three 3-story buildings with 72 units, a two to eight story building with 105 units with a restaurant on the eighth floor, a waterfront center with docks and a club house and recreation center.

The September 2006 meeting drew a large crowd of residents, who voiced concerns about the project.  They wanted to know about water and sewage.  Maxim said they planned to provide private water supply and sewage disposal facilities.  Others talked about the huge increase in traffic during and after construction.  Lakefront property owners were worried about pollution and boat traffic.  Fire departments wondered how they would respond to an emergency in an eight story building.  Maxim later agreed to limit the height of the building.

Lawyers from Maxim Development sent an inquiry to the town on Nov. 5 asking if there could be another hearing, because nothing was set up from the previous hearing held on Sept. 18, 2006.  Kenville asked the board who has the authority to set up a meeting.  He said he reads the law to say that the zoning officer can set up a meeting. 

Town Attorney Philip Bailey was present at the request of the board to answer questions.  He said Maxim should not be calling for another  public hearing, as one was already held and the application is not complete. 

Supervisor Pat Flynn stated the public hearing was for information only about the application for a special use permit.  During the time since the public hearing, little has been heard from Maxim and their lawyers.  Until the letter of Nov. 5 arrived, the last correspondence was in March.  Without further work being submitted on the application, Flynn said no action was taken.  Bailey told Flynn,  “ I think your response as supervisor is correct. Ron (Kenville) is also correct about the project going to the zoning board first.

Zoning Board member James Cougevan questioned why the town board hired a Syracuse  law firm and if the money was spent for nothing.  Bailey replied he had advised the board to hire a firm familiar with development projects.    “The project is the first one in the county of this type, “ Bailey added.  Flynn added that no more work was being done by the Syracuse firm unless they hear from Maxim.

Since the 2006 public hearing with the town board, Kenville said he understood a couple of planning and zoning board members met with an attorney.  “All my files and maps are gone.  I understand all documents went home with the attorney.” 

An e-mail  received in September from Special Counsel Kathleen Bennett of Bond Shoeneck & King, the attorney representing the town,  stated the firm had not received any submissions from Maxim to date.

In the Nov. 5 letter a Maxim lawyer stated the developer doesn’t want to put time and money into the project without knowing what the zoning board and town will allow them to do.  Zoning board members agreed that without knowing what Maxim wants to do and not seeing any more plans they couldn’t make any decisions.

Torrey Town  Clerk Betty Daggett said Maxim representatives had planned to attend the meeting, but had called to say they were stuck in the snowstorm.

Flynn asked Bailey what they should do next.  Bailey said no formal plan has been submitted and there should be a plan.  He said the next step would be to set up a meeting.

A decision was made to contact Maxim and ask them to attend the next zoning board meeting on Jan. 7.

Many questions were raised at the public meeting held fifteen months ago and many still remain unanswered.