Traffic

For the analysis of the Patrick Farm project or any major new development, a developer is compelled to retain professionals with experience in a variety of fields, among them, civil, environmental and traffic engineering (along with others with expertise in issues relating to community character) in order to prepare the thorough, meaningful, and science based Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that he New York State Environmental Quality Review Act law (SEQRA) requires. The SEQRA law also mandates that a town’s planning board take a “hard look” at the many environmental and social impacts often associated with large development projects and how these impacts might be mitigated, if at all. And this, in turn, requires a planning board to scrutinize information submitted by developers as well as seeks out and considers information, which is independent of studies and evaluations, put forward by developers. Judges and citizens groups like ROSA take the SEQRA requirements and protocols very seriously. Furthermore, developers and their hired professionals engaged in the SEQRA process must evaluate potential impacts and submit information and scientific results that are accurate because their studies are site and project specific, and not simply based on generic industry standards which do not correlate to what is actually planned.

The developer of the Patrick Farm property has proposed building 87 single-family homes and 410 townhouse multi-family units proposed for just over 208 acres. The single-family homes will consist of 4-bedroom dwelling units, between 3,200 and 3,800 SF of living space.  The multi-family units will be predominantly sixplex units; each unit having 3 or 4 bedrooms, each unit occupying just one floor of the multi-floor building.  Over the past generation, single-family homes having 4 bedrooms have become quite commonplace across the United States. However, sixplex townhomes with 3 or 4 bedroom per unit, especially single floor townhomes, are quite rare.

One such study done for the Patrick Farm development plan required as part of the EIS dealt with the traffic component. As part of this review effort, existing traffic volumes were obtained for the roadways and intersections in the immediate area of the proposed development, and detailed capacity analyses are performed to determine how the intersections operate under current (2008) conditions (graded values of A through F).  Layered on top of this data are projections of traffic conditions for future conditions (for this development, 2013 was determined suitable, an estimated traffic increase of 10% over 2008 values), plus estimated volumes from other local projects planned for the area are included. The end result is a series of Future No-Build analyses prepared and included within the EIS.

The final, and most critical, step is layering onto the Future No-Build scenario that of the development built out, with its traffic projections estimated and added on. It is at this point that ROSA has serious objections with the information and resultant traffic impacts forecasted in the developer’s documents.

Information published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) as contained in their publication “Trip Generation, 8th Edition” is the accepted industry standard for determining the projected trips for a specific land use. Tens of thousands of studies were performed over the past 50 years, for all types of specific land uses in order to best project what volumes can be expected from a future development. Projected trips, both into and out of the development are determined for AM and PM peak hours, and also on weekends.  For this development, the chosen ITE Land Use Code were 210 (Single Family Detached Housing) and 230 (Residential Condominium/Townhouse).  Utilizing the number of units anticipated, and multiplying this by the trip rates for these two land use code, resulted in 2013 Build data, which could then be determined using the aforementioned capacity analyses for each intersection in the neighboring vicinity.

ITE Code 230 (Residential Condominium/Townhouse), or any of the codes for that matter, does not take into account the number of bedrooms that the units possess, only the type of land use. Typical condominiums and townhouses contain 1, 2 and sometimes 3 bedrooms; rarely ever 4 bedrooms.  More bedrooms usually result in more residents, which usually results in more trips. It can be anticipated that the number of trips expected from the 4 bedroom condo/townhouse would most likely generate a similar number of trips as the 4 bedroom detached house (Code 210), not the number of trips generated by the typical condo/townhouse used in ITE Code 230. The trips generated by a detached house are TWO TO THREE TIMES LARGER than those generated by a condo/townhouse. Utilizing the more appropriate trip generation values will result in projected traffic conditions that will be far worse to the roadways and intersections of Route 202, Route 306 and the neighboring communities.