Rochester Planning Board traffic issue almost goes to court

May 27, 2020

ROCHESTER — Months after Seasons Corner Market raised concerns about road changes proposed by developers of a 208-unit housing development, the two groups have still not found a way to resolve those concerns and were almost ready to go to court before the situation de-escalated. 

Seasons and Steen Realty and Development Corporation, which is guiding is mixed-use housing and commercial development through the planning process, first butted heads at a Jan 29 meeting. At a May 26 meeting, they still had not worked out a step in Steen’s plan, which would eliminate one of only two entrances at Seasons. 

A representative for Steen, Phil Cordeiro from Allen and Major Associates, initially asked the Planning Board to consider the application as Steen had filed it.

Though the companies had been in talks, trying to reach an agreement, “We may not get there with them, in which case the Board will have to make a decision to approve the design as it is in front of you,” said Ken Steen, owner of Steen Realty. 

His reasoning was he had changed the location of the road at the Board’s request, so they should be likely to approve it. 

However, Board Chair Arnold Johnson said “I do have a concern with Seasons losing an access point and having all of that traffic combined with traffic coming out of the [development].” 

He added that the two can likely still work it out. However he asked Seasons to provide a traffic study showing how the lost entrance would impact business. 

John Russell, the lawyer for Seasons, said his client had offered to develop a nearby piece of land with additional diesel tanks to get another entrance, but Steen rejected that plan. He stated if Steen refuses to compromise, the issue “will be a point of contention in court, though I hope it doesn't get that far.”  

Andy Delli Carpini, who owns Seasons, showed respect for Steen’s goal when he said “I don’t think I can allow a project that would somehow impede ours, even if it is a great project like what Mr Steen is proposing.” 

He helped defuse some of the tension in the room by pointing out that “everyone has their defenses up,” and the two sides “need to tear down the walls.” 

Eventually, tensions eased, and the two sides agreed to continue talks.