208-unit housing development approved

Jan 26, 2021

ROCHESTER — After nearly two years of meetings, talks and approvals, the 208-unit Rochester Crossroads apartment complex is ready to begin construction. 

“I appreciate everyone working together on this,” Planning Board Chair Johnson Arnold Johnson said at a Jan. 26 meeting where the board gave its final approval and signature for the project. “It’s taken a while, but I’m glad we got it to this point.”

The 30-acre project intersection of Route 58 and Cranberry Highway will be a mixed-use development with 10 acres reserved for apartments and the other 20 for commercial use. 

Some of the 208 apartments in the complex will fall under Chapter 40R — a regulation which promotes the construction of affordable housing.

Under 40R, overlay districts — or special zoning districts which allow for the construction of high-density housing — are used to promote the construction of affordable housing while giving local officials more say in how it’s done. 

The 40R housing included in the project will bring Rochester above the 10% affordable housing threshold imposed by the state. 

Despite its addition to affordable housing in Rochester, the project has undergone its fair share of changes since its proposal in April 2019 and final Planning Board approval on Jan. 26. 

Among the major issues that faced the project was a lengthy debate on traffic easement. 

In January 2019, Andrew Delli Carpini, the owner of Seasons Corner Market, which abuts the planned development, said he had an issue with a plan that would eliminate one of his two entrances.

The two owners struggled for months with various easements that would allow for clear traffic flow while also maintaining access for Seasons Corner Market. At one point, it looked like the issue might go to court. 

But at a September 2020 Planning Board meeting, John Russell, an attorney for Seasons, said that “conceptually we are there,” on the road easement. 

Few details on the easement solution were provided, but the solution offers those leaving the gas station and market with access to the ring road planned around the development. 

The circular road around the development was also initially supposed to be used as a school bus stop, but objections from the Planning Board led to a change which moved the stop to the back of the complex. 

More recently, the Planning Board debated when — and for how long — heavy machinery is permitted to be operated at the site. 

The board agreed at a Jan. 12 meeting to allow heavy equipment use from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays at the construction site, beginning on a six-week provisional basis. 

The board also plans to proactively call nearby residents to see how they feel about the noise when construction begins. 

Now — despite all hangups — the project is finally ready to move forward.

“I know it hasn’t been an easy one,” Ken Steen of Steen Realty and Development Corporation said. “I mean it’s a pretty complicated project — a lot of moving parts.”