Springfield Planning Board Moves Project Forward, Too
By JIM KEVLIN • for www.AllOTSEGO.com
SPRINGFIELD CENTER – Farm Credit East’s plans for a low-profiled 50-job office building just north of the Glimmerglass Festival on Route 80 this evening appeared to have won support of all the major local environmental advocates.
The project was also moved forward by the Town of Springfield Planning Board, which unanimously agreed to be lead agency in the SEQRA process; it then reviewed and approved Part II of the state Environmental Quality Review Act requirements. Next month, the Planning Board is expected to act on a motion for a “negative declaration,” meaning the project will have little impact on the environment.
Harry Levine, Otsego Land Trustee chair, who was speaking on behalf of Advocates for Springfield, said he expects Farm Credit East will be a good neighbor. “In simple terms,” he said, “we do support this project.”
Danny Lapin, Otsego County Conservation Association (OCCA) environmental planner, said, “We do not have any environmental concerns.”
In a personal letter, Nicole Dillingham, Otsego 2000 president, and her husband Gaylord, who live in the Town of Springfield, gave their “enthusiastic endorsement.”
And Planning Board member Gretchen Sorin, Cooperstown Graduate Program director, said she had no objection to the razing or removal of a circa 1900 caretaker’s cottage from the site, calling it “an old house that doesn’t have any historic interest.”
The meeting began with comments by Bill Lipinski, Farm Credit CEO, who had driven up from Connecticut. He said the company was created by Congress “to provide credit to farmers when no one else would.” It is “customer owned,” he said, “a very equitable organization.”
“Two percent of net,” he said, is invested in “stewardship” – community ventures.
The Springfield site will merge the Sangerfield and Cobleskill offices, and Lipinski said there are the added enticements of being located in a farming community and being in “an attractive place to recruit talent.” Already, one Cooperstown person has joined the company, and help-wanted ads have been placed for another.
Attorney Doug Zamelis, Springfield Center, representing Farm Credit, architects Kurt Ofer and Teresa Drerup, and John Camp of C&S Engineers, Syracuse, reported on issues ranging from controlling runoff and minimizing lighting (the plan is “dark sky compliant,” Ofer said), to traffic concerns raised by neighbors Ken and Debbie Martz.
SUNY Binghamton’s Public Archaeology Facility had been contracted to review the site for any “prehistoric artifacts,” and found “three sensitive areas” near the driveway, which will be combed one square foot at a time to remove any items of interest and allow the driveway to be widened by a couple of feet at the Route 80 entry. It’s a $50,000 effort, Zamelis reported.
The lawyer also said he’s been out in his boat, and can’t see the site from nearby by Otsego Lake. Even the Ryerson Mansion, one time summer home of steel magnate Arthur Ryerson, who died on the Titanic, isn’t visible. The proposed office building is on the southern 13 acres of the Ryerson property; Farm Credit East bought the whole parcel, but is putting the northern 26 acres back on the market.
If all goes as planned, the idea is to break ground by Oct. 31 and complete construction in 9-10 months.