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Federal agency takes note of Stone Quarry site fouling


Recent complaints of environmental contamination at the site of an affordable-housing complex on Spencer Road have gotten the attention of a federal agency, but the practical effect may be limited.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development advised the City of Ithaca to reopen the public-comment period on using federal money to help Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services and not-for-profit developer Pathstone Corp. build the 35-unit Stone Quarry apartments project on Spencer Road.

The federal agency is involved because the city earmarked $370,000 of its HUD housing-development funds to help stimulate construction of affordable apartments. Use of the funds requires considering environmental impacts and following federal, state and local standards, according to HUD regional spokesman Adam Glantz.

INHS reported contamination on the site, which has been used for auto repairs and a taxi depot, to state authorities and in its plan to the city. Neighbors raised concerns in July that INHS had not reported another chemical spill on the site, though it was later determined the spill record by the state Department of Environmental Conservation was generated not by a new spill but by a second environmental engineer’s report of an investigation done for the owner of the property, who hopes to sell it for the development.

HUD advised the city to revise its environmental assessment regarding Stone Quarry, review the contamination, include a plan for eradicating it, and reopen a public-comment period through Aug. 27, according to a HUD statement.

“During this period, HUD has also been conferring with New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation to ensure that the City is following all applicable environmental regulations concerning the proposed project and clean-up,” the agency said in a statement.

The city this week published a public notice of its updated environmental assessment, again finding no significant environmental impact.

INHS Executive Director Paul Mazzarella said Thursday the new comment period is not likely to affect the project schedule by itself. “The small things taken together become a bigger issue but I don’t think we’re in a situation yet where time is a problem,” he said.

In addition to final site plan review from the city Planning and Development Board, the project needs approval of a subdivision of a parcel of land being bought for the development.

Stone Quarry Apartments Project: