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UR making moves in Brighton


A University of Rochester plan to build out its South Campus in Brighton is inching forward after several years on hold.

Most of the 180-acre property, which is home to UR's laser lab, is situated between East River and Crittenden roads. Besides the lab, it is generally undeveloped. UR officials are asking the Town of Brighton to rezone a chunk of that land so it can be developed according to the university's long-range plan.

The UR also wants the town to approve a new three-story Medical Center building on the South Campus, which would be used for outpatient imaging services and to provide some services for children with autism. University officials expect the building to be completed in 2015.

The university is pursuing institutional planned development district zoning for the site, says Brighton Supervisor Bill Moehle, which would allow it to build residential, office, research, and clinical space.

Last month, UR gave the town a draft environmental statement for the rezoning proposal. The Brighton Town Board will most likely refer the statement to a consultant this week for review.

UR officials first proposed rezoning the property in 2005, and they included that objective in the school's 2008 campus master plan, says university spokesperson Sara Miller in an e-mail. But the proposal was put on hold when the economic crisis hit, she says.

Moehle says that building out the site will undoubtedly impact the surrounding area. Adjacent neighborhoods have flooding and drainage problems, he says, so those issues will need to be considered.

Because of the potential impacts, the town is treating the UR's application as an incentive zoning proposal, which means that the town will want something in exchange for the rezoning. The UR and the town have already come to terms on some details, Moehle says.

Traffic will be an issue, he says, and UR has said it won't put entrances to the site on Crittenden Road. The road isn't designed to handle the traffic that would accompany the fully built-out campus, he says.

University officials have also agreed to donate approximately 40 acres of land on Crittenden to the town, Moehle says, which will be used for a park. The land is adjacent to the Lehigh Valley Trail.

The university property is tax exempt, but once it's developed it will draw significantly on town services, Moehle says. Town and UR officials are discussing some sort of financial support from the university to offset those costs, he says.