Planning Board Recap: KFC building plan is “finger-lickin’ good” to go

ITHACA, N.Y.—For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shutdowns began in March of last year, the City of Ithaca Planning Board met in-person to conduct their monthly meeting.

What a meeting it was—arguably one of the longest agendas they’ve had since before COVID at the least. A fair estimate is about $100 million worth of projects, a little retail but mostly residential, with over 500 housing units in some stage of site plan review last night.

Regardless, a jampacked agenda still must be covered item by item—in other words, grab a cup of coffee or tea and dive in, because this is going to be a longer write-up. For those who like reading material to accompany their play-by-play, a link to the 222-page agenda is here.

Quick aside, three of the members were absent, which is fairly rare, and barely quorum. Chair Robert Lewis as well as members Garrick Blalock and Elisabete Godden were absent, with Vice Chair Mckenzie Jones, Mitch Glass, Emily Petrina and C.J. Randall in attendance for the lengthy meeting.

Special Permits

The first major item on the agenda this month was a Special Permit, which is uncommon but can be triggered for unusual property uses in certain zones, usually lower-density residential areas. In this case, it was 201 East Tompkins Street in Fall Creek. Most Creekers are familiar with this building as Tony Serviente’s artisanal glass studio, which it’s been for the past 25 or so years. However, Serviente is moving his business and has a replacement occupant lined up for 2,569 square feet of the ground floor commercial space: a fitness studio by wife-and-husband local gym coaches Jana Leyden and Andy Lonsky.