November 6, 2014

EDITORIAL: Improving Cornell Heights Zoning Code

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After Cornellians and Ithacans protested the development of a new housing complex last spring, the City of Ithaca is planning to revise its zoning regulations for Cornell Heights Historical District, a historic district located west of Cornell’s North Campus. The proposal for these revisions will most likely be drafted by January and will include plans to protect the character of the historic neighborhood, as well as regulations that would increase the lot sizes for Greek life-related housing, lower building heights and lower lot coverage maximums. We at The Sun believe that this a positive step because it will help lay down clearer guidelines for development of the area in accordance to the demands of the residents.

The issue of preserving the neighborhood arose last spring when CA Student Living — a subsidiary of Chicago real estate investment and development company CA Ventures — proposed a modern-style housing complex in the neighborhood. Locals protested against the proposal at an Ithaca Planning and Development Board meeting in March, emphasizing the lack of finalized plans, concerns for increased traffic and the lack of preservation of the historic neighborhood. In addition, a petition was circulated and signed by more than 900 locals. Due to this local backlash, the construction proposal was withdrawn in August.

Aside from local residents, many chapters of the Cornell Greek system signed this petition, with 20 of the 46 fraternities on campus located in Cornell Heights. Of the 900 signatures, over a third were connected to Cornell fraternity and sororities. We applaud them for taking a stand on an issue that concerns their community and their neighborhood.

We at The Sun believe that even though the construction proposal by CA Student Living was rejected, it would be beneficial to the neighborhood of Cornell Heights to rewrite the zoning code. This will not only help in defining clear guidelines that regulate all future development, but also encourages historic preservation in Ithaca neighborhoods.