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LeRay OKs developer’s road project off Route 11

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In a deal that’s expected to lure several retail businesses, including a Big Apple Music store, the LeRay Town Council has approved a developer’s plan to build a quarter-mile loop off Route 11 south of the Fort Drum exit.

The board, in a 4-1 vote Thursday, agreed that the town will purchase the road and rights of way once it is completed for $300,000 from Michael L. Lundy, owner of Lundy Development and Property Management LLC, Carthage. The project, which will include water and sewer infrastructure, is expected to cost the developer about $1 million and will be completed by Lunco Corp. of Carthage, a construction company also owned by Mr. Lundy.

Mr. Lundy called the partnership with the town a win-win situation. To be built across from Davidson Auto Group and next to Freedom Plaza on the west side of Route 11, the loop road is expected to be a prime spot for restaurants and other retailers. Several restaurants already have expressed interest in the site, which also is expected to feature a big-box store.

“From the town’s point of view, they’re going to have an opportunity to have increased real estate taxes because we haven’t asked for a tax break,” Mr. Lundy said. “The development will also increase the town’s assessed value and help them get more sales tax.”

Before breaking ground, Mr. Lundy will have to develop a site plan for eight commercial lots at the site, which will require approval of the town Planning Board and Town Council. That process is expected to take four to six months, he said. His goal is to break ground on the road next winter, followed by the lots in the spring.

Mr. Lundy’s development plans include a four-way deal tentatively agreed to by landowners whose three properties intersect the road site. Those owners — Robert D. Ferris of Watertown, Robert J. and Janice M. Piatt of LeRay and Columbia LeRay LLC — each will give Mr. Lundy ownership of parcels that now intersect the site of the planned road.

According to the plan, Robert D. Ferris, owner of Big Apple Music in Watertown, will transfer ownership of 4 acres to Mr. Lundy. Mr. Ferris plans to lease the property back from Mr. Lundy to build a 6,000-square-foot Big Apple Music store, which will be constructed by Lunco Corp.

Additionally, a collective 15 acres near the road owned by the Piatts and Columbia LeRay will be transferred to Mr. Lundy. Those owners both have about 100 acres each near the site that extend west. They both plan to use the road as a springboard for future projects on their land.

“There’s a lot of potential for all four of us to build with this project,” Mr. Lundy said.

Mr. Ferris, who planned the road project with Mr. Lundy over the past three years to build his store, said the deal will enable him to afford a larger store at the site than he would have been able to on his own.

“I’m going to build it for a fraction of what it would have cost me,” he said. “I was originally going to build it by October, but I knew it was important to wait and get this whole project done.”

LeRay Supervisor Ronald C. Taylor said a road already was envisioned at the location in the town’s comprehensive plan. Eventually, the town plans to continue building the road west so that it connects with Eagle Ridge Village.

“We wanted to bring traffic to that area, and this fits right into our plan,” he said.

As the only board member who opposed the plan, Councilman William R. Jesmore said that he’s fundamentally against financially supporting roads built by developers with taxpayer money, referring to the $300,000 the town will pay to purchase the road.

“I have a problem with building roads that benefit developers,” he said. “The town used to never support these projects, but now it’s happening all over the place.”

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