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County board endorses plan for 360-unit LeRay Place Apartments

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LERAY — A Michigan developer with an affinity for military housing projects will begin construction on a 360-unit apartment complex on Route 11 this summer.

The Jefferson County Planning Board gave its blessing Tuesday to site plans for 10 three-story buildings with 350 two-bedroom and 10 one-bedroom units.

The town of LeRay’s Planning Board must give final approval for the project, called LeRay Place Apartments.

The development is proposed on a 51-acre parcel to be purchased from owner Robert P. Gillespie about a half-mile south of Route 342 on the west side of Route 11.

Despite their recommendation, county planners expressed several concerns.

They noted that the state Department of Transportation must still evaluate the project’s storm drainage system, and a buffer is needed for a neighboring single-family home. The town engineering office must approve plans for emergency vehicle access to the complex, the county planners said.

If all goes well, Management Resources Development, East Lansing, Mich., intends to begin the first seven structures, with 252 units, in August. The company will complete the remaining 108 if the market warrants it, senior planner Michael J. Bourcy said. The entire project is slated to be completed by May 2016.

That prompted a question from Planning Board member Clifford P. Schneider about whether developers are aware of the region’s goal of building 1,035 housing units to address the housing shortage for Fort Drum soldiers. Counting this project, 1,047 units will have been created in the county in recent years.

“Do they consider that?” Mr. Schneider said, questioning whether the complex’s second phase eventually will be constructed.

The two-bedroom apartments are expected to be occupied primarily by small military families, Mr. Bourcy said.

Plans call for a 2,031-square-foot clubhouse featuring a pool, fitness room and office space. The developer and the Indian River Central School District are working on plans for a school bus to pick up and drop off students at the complex, Mr. Bourcy said.

The site has sufficient parking spaces in front of each building, Mr. Bourcy said.

Mr. Schneider also questioned whether the developer has enough recreation space on the site.

Plans mention only a small playground, yet the town requires 82,000 square feet for recreational purposes on a project of this size. The developer will put aside 760,000 square feet of space for that purpose.

Mr. Bourcy suspects that the developer considers all green space on the site for recreation.

The developer also may have to get two variances, one for a single building not having a 40-foot frontage requirement for the parking lot and another for a 35-foot height requirement. The buildings would be a little more than 40 feet tall.

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