By Nathan Mayberg
LIBERTY June 11, 2004 A large clear-cut between Willey Avenue and Champlin Avenue has created a stir in Liberty.
Dozens of trees have been felled in several parcels, with large piles of woodchips scattered around in front, right off Route 52 in the village.
The property consists of about 13 acres, said owner Frank Nutt of Montgomery. He estimated that he had cleared about half of the property. He intends to cut down between two-thirds and three-fourths of the trees and build an apartment complex of approximately 86 units.
Nutt plans on constructing six buildings, each at 150,000 square feet. Two buildings would be for commercial use, with apartments above them. He would also build a parking lot. He did not detail what kind of business might be there.
The Village of Liberty Planning Board approved plans for 126 units in 1992. However, the developers never went through with their plans and sold the property to Nutt early this year. Nutt received approval from the board to continue with the project from the Village of Liberty Planning Board shortly thereafter.
After two weeks of clearing the property of trees, Village of Liberty Code Enforcement Officer Pamela Winters said she stopped work on the project because Nutt scaled down his plans. Nutt claims he stopped work on the project two months ago, after a machine broke down.
Winters admitted that she has received several complaints from local residents. She admitted that it does look awful and has asked Nutt to clean the piles of woodchips and logs. However, she has no plans to issue a fine or summons, although she may meet with village attorney Gary Silver to discuss the matter. (The village has a property maintenance law.)
One resident who lives close by to the proposed apartment complex and declined to be identified said she was very upset about it. One of her concerns was that the complex could be a center for low-income residents, which could bring more crime into the area.
We have plenty of houses in this community that could help [lower income people] . . . I dont believe in segregating people.
Regarding the land itself, she remembered it being aesthetically more attractive. . . . There were more trees. Now it looks horrible, she said.
With the Cornell students trying to upgrade the community, . . . I dont think this is a positive contribution to their efforts. . . . It is sad.
Planning Board Chairman Donald Nichols was not available for comment. Mayor William Smith did not return calls for comment.
The Planning Board will meet tonight at 7 p.m. at the village hall and is expected to hear from Nutt on his plans.