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Healthy Choices for Families

Town Board Minutes 05/16/2000

        HONORABLE               SCOTT M. HORTON         COUNCILMAN
                                PATRICIA A. DONNELLY    COUNCILWOMAN
                                LIZ ORZEL KASPER                COUNCILWOMAN
                                WILLIAM R. CHAPMAN      COUNCILMAN
                                LUKE J. SMITH                   SUPERVISOR

        Others present:  Helen Kopke, Town Clerk; Eric Dickson, Town Attorney; Charlie Goldstock, Zoning Enforcement Officer; Darryl Ostrander, Deputy Police Chief; Richard Harris, Town Planner; Frank E. Gavin III, Superintendent of Highways; Richard Pollock, Superintendent of Water & Sewer.


        Public Hearing No. 1 – Park District No. 14, River Hills Subdivision.  When no members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed the public hearing.

        Public Hearing No. 2 – Drainage District No. 16, River Hills Subdivision.  When no members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed the public hearing.

        Public Hearing No. 3 and 4 –
Amends Chapter 220 of the Code of the Town, Article IV Use Regulations, to delete professional offices, medical and professional offices, nonmedical, as special principal uses in the R-2 Medium Density Residential zoning district;
Article IX, amends nonconforming uses and structures to allow a professional offices located in an R-2 zoning district and deemed to be a nonconformng use to be used for professional offices or for general business offices
Establishes R-P: Residential professional zoning district consisting of the following parcels which are presently zoned R-2:
2546 Balltown Road                      2123 River Road
2121 River Road                 2566 Balltown Road
2530 Balltown Road                      2109 River Road
2632 Zenner Road                        2610 Zenner Road
Zenner Road (2 parcels)         2127 River Road
2131 River Road

Amend the Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Map for 1675 Providence Avenue
from R-2 Medium Density Residential to R-3 High Density Residential.

        Richard Harris gave an overview of the proposed.  The amendments would remove professional offices as a principal use from the R-2 Medium Density zoning district and would allow professional offices located in an R-2 district deemed to be non-conforming to be used for professional offices or general business offices.
        He showed a map outlining the R-2 districts within Town, and pointed out the area of Town at River Road and Balltown Road where amendments were proposed to 13 parcels of land.  
        Supervisor Smith looks at this public hearing as the beginning of a process that began in 1993 with a recommendation to remove professional office buildings from the R-2 district.  The Planning Board has also stated that the Town should identify where we will allow this type of development.  The corner of Balltown and River Road is our first attempt of this identification.  This is just a beginning, not the end of the process and it does not mean there will be no more commercial development in Town.  
Some would cast the Board as anti-development or pro-development, but it is not that simple.  Many issues that have come to Planning have had to be resolved by the Zoning Board of Appeals because the Zoning Ordinance is not clear. The current Town Board is looking at the Comprehensive Plan to make changes and rationalize the process to insure that we have good quality commercial development.  We want to expand the tax base where it is appropriate while maintaining the residential character of the Town.  

        Richard Kopke, 952 Vrooman Avenue, appreciates the balance of business and residential within the Town, especially the recent residential development.  We have to keep in mind the reason people have moved and are moving to Niskayuna.  Local leadership must be responsible for and react to the balance of sales tax and property tax (which we are all aware of.  He supports the most recent slow but deliberate development within the community and especially the redevelopment of Mohawk Mall.  We have to identify areas of development, especially in areas that have deteriorated and need to be rebuilt. People enjoy the residential character of this community and that is why they moved here.  This is not a pro or anti development issue but a response to the desires of the community.

        Fred Voss, 2293 Troy Road, is for keeping the community residential as much as possible which he believes are stable in this community.  We do not have empty houses or houses being taken for back taxes. Rite Aid is now in bankruptcy so the mother corporation can receive a 34% tax reduction.  This makes taxes too unstable.  Business will not be make a stable tax base and General Electric is a good example.  

        Peter Zeltins, 1828 Union Street, strongly objects to the Town Board presenting themselves as a Planning Board. He believes it is the responsibility of the Planning Board to develop our community.  Variances have been given to many homes between Balltown Road and the City line.  There are only 15 or 20 homes left in this area that could have been professional offices.  If this is rezoned, they can only be residential and no one wants to purchase these for use as a residence.  It can never be turned back to residential.  Troy Road residents are not speaking for those living between Balltown Road and the City line.  This area should allow professional offices.  

        Robert Potfora 1348 Balltown Road, owns the home next to Hollywood Video and the home is surrounded by commercial properties.  When it was purchased it was zoned commercial, then the zoning was changed.  Now, the Board wants to take R-2 away so he is very much against this. They have tried to rent the property, but it is difficult because of its location.   
        Supervisor Smith reiterated that this proposal is a beginning.  The Planning Board recommended that professional offices be taken out of R-2, but the next step will be to identify where commercial zones will be.  He anticipates that other areas will be looked at.  An attempt was made to attach an amendment to a plan, which was looked at for four or five months.  It is always a possibility that this property will be looked at in the future and not necessarily the distant future.  

        David Evans, 700 St. David’s Lane, is in support of the Planning Board’s recommendation to remove offices from the R-2 zone.  He values the Board’s judgment in the recognition that our value as a Town is in our residential character and the proper future development of certain areas.

        Jacqueline Tomlinson, 880 Meadow Lane, requested the Board evaluate the situation.  Some of the areas proposed for change are difficult because homeowners will not be able to sell their properties.  The areas that the Board is planning to change need to be classified more clearly.  They do not want doctor’s offices in the middle of a specific residential area but main roads like Balltown and Troy are already partly commercial.  She suggested that the map be reviewed and look at avenues that lead in and out of Town and not just arbitrarily change everything.

        Gary Dagestino, 2977 Hillcrest Road, does not want to see any commercial development on Troy Road.  We can already see what happens when businesses come and leave from other parts of Troy Road and Route 9.  Economic times are good right now and we do not have to do this.  If we make it commercial it is very difficult to go back to residential.  If we keep it residential we will always have the option to allow commercial development at some point in the future.

        Jim McKinney, 2201 Stoneridge Road, moved to Niskayuna for the stable and distinct character, which is our single greatest value and made them choose Niskayuna over many choices they had.  These days, professional offices are no longer single doctors practicing alone.  Times have changed, and professional offices can now be 5-20,000 or more square feet.  When they become this size they become 800-lb. gorilla’s in residential neighborhoods and the mix becomes detrimental.  What once was a building the size of a house with five or six parking spaces, now has significant amounts of traffic, parking, noise, and a real impact on the visual character and quality of the Town.  He does not know what to expect and what will come next as far as commercial property proposals.  He urged that the Board take into consideration the assurance and some protection to people who moved here for its residential quality.  This does not mean that we cannot foster commercial development that will also be a positive impact in Town.  

        David Burke, 2134 Alexis Avenue, did not appear to speak to the merits or demerits of the proposals but to advise the Board that they should proceed with caution and not base their plans on a decades old Comprehensive Plan that may be outdated.  We should step back and take a study and review our objectives.  He believes we should refer back to the Planning Board and ask if we will achieve our objectives with these proposals.  We should not rush and wind up with unintended consequences or surprises.  
        Mr. Burke showed a letter of solicitation dated November 24, 1999 sent to various professional people in Schenectady County promoting a new 60,000 professional facility located at Balltown/River/Zenner Roads.  The letter stated it would be ready for occupancy in October 2000, and was signed by R. Crisafulli, Director of Development. Mr. Burke assumed if the zoning amendment goes through this is what the community will find.  He asked the Board to step back and take a careful look at what they are doing and he urged caution and prudence.
Supervisor Smith responded that this is not a proposal that has been presented to this Town.

Joe Meschino, 2507 Peters Lane, is concerned about the shear size of the R-2 zone, which seems like a significant part of the community.  As a member of the business community, he is struggling under very high taxes and various restrictions.  In order to encourage the business community (which is a major part of our tax base), he felt it seemed categorical to move professional offices buildings from a large part of the Town.  He believes when the business community falters and moves out, the residential property values deteriorate also.  He asked the Board to take a step back before they move forward.

Steve Rosenberg, 905 Mohegan Avenue, noted that changes in the tax base have come up since the 1993 Comprehensive Plan.  The G. E. assessment has plummeted, Mohawk Mall collapsed, and now there is talk that Bellevue Hospital will become a not-for-profit facility.  Although Niskayuna is an excellent place to live, our taxes seem to go up more and more out of proportion to other towns in the area.  We have a diminishing tax base and rising taxes.  He does not see how developing Niskayuna as a residential community is attractive.  He does not understand why professional offices are being singled out.  He does not see that the zoning ordinance distinguishes a professional office regarding square footage.  He asked the Board to reexamine the amendment before proceeding.

Theresa McCarthy, 21 Covington Court, has lived and practiced medicine in Niskayuna for 28 years.  She finds it disheartening how hastily the Board is trying to make changes for unknown reasons.  The Comprehensive Plan has been presented at least two times and was rejected and asked why the Board is in a hurry to impose such changes.  She does not feel careful study has gone into this.  There have been changes since 1993, and these changes must be incorporated in Planning.  The Board is proposing removing 25% of the Town that represents 1,000 taxpayers properties out of the R-2 zone devaluing their properties.  She felt it is extremely shortsighted to think that office buildings do not make a difference in the tax base and asked that responsible planning be exercised.   In New England town plans, all the business and commercial properties are found in the entrances to the Town.  We do not want to contaminate the inner part of the Town.  This only makes sense.

Mike Heim, 941 Morgan Avenue,  wants to maintain the residential character of the Town.  His primary concern is Troy Road, which he sees as the visual passage of Niskayuna.  Reducing the area from commercial development is a cost.  Areas that have been sited for commercial development such as Mohawk Mall and the northwest zone are prime targets for development and their economic focus should be there and not in the residential areas.  The 1993 Plan has been debated on this issue. The Town Board’s responsibility is to act on this rather than have private citizens needing to come forward every time someone suggests a zoning variance.  He hoped that the R-2 zones can be spared professional development, although he would like to see the development of office space within Town in areas that are designated for development.

Judith Calvelli, 2644 Troy Road, described her move to Niskayuna has the fulfillment of the American dream.  She did not move to the suburbs from Brooklyn to have city conveniences and would not trade her neighborhood for conveniences.  The trade off is living in a friendly residential neighborhood.  She is not against commercial development and does not believe the argument that commercial development lowers taxes.  In the last 25 years, after much commercial development in Town, her taxes have never gone down.  Careful planning is the key to making and keeping our Town a place where young people want to raise families, and empty nesters want to stay.  It is the key to protecting the neighborhoods in which we live.  She urged the Board to adopt the resolution to remove commercial development from the R-2 zones and to save Niskayuna from the blight of commercial creep so evident in surrounding communities.

Roy Larson, 2644 Troy Road, urged the Board to remove professional offices from the R-2 zone.

Patricia Della Selva, 2632 Troy Road, supported removing professional offices from the R-2 zone and to keep residential residential.  We already have areas within the Town that are ripe for development and is very supportive of developing these areas.  Three or four new single family homes have been built on Troy Road in the last few years.  It is a vital, vibrant residential area.  She asked what is the need for more professional office space.  Her professional office, three miles away on New Karner Road, contains numerous vacancies.  She does not see the need for more professional space.

Lorene Zabin, 2455 Brookshire Drive, described the Troy Road Neighborhood Association, as a group formed after an informational meeting with the neighborhood to seek imput on the possible use of the R-2 section of Troy Road.  150 attended the meeting and expressed varied opinions of uses.  A majority wanted to keep Troy Road residential and within the guidelines of the zoning ordinance.  The persuasion of the former committee chairman of the Planning Board to look at neighborhood professional office buildings so that residents would have services within the community, was hotly rejected.  The constant reference to the Comprehensive Plan and why it was not accepted by past Town Boards, made this area vulnerable to commercial development.  The Troy Road Association group has been maligned, insulted, and misunderstood by those who wish to develop Troy Road.  Their goal has been to the preservation of the neighborhood, not the breakdown of the community.
Recently the value of the Town has been increased over $14 million, which has caused a needed reduction in the school tax rate.  The Town has always been open to appropriate growth but it should not do it by the variance process.  Passing this resolution will stabilize and secure Niskayuna as the quality residential community in our county and capital district.  She urged the Board to support the favorable recommendation of the Planning Board to remove the professional offices from the R-2 zone.  This will only remove the professional use.  There are other uses allowed.  Let this be the Board that truly believes in the quality of life for the residential neighborhoods and not just give them lip service during election times.

Lisa Ashworth, 2976 Troy Road, stated she did not purchase her home with the purpose of reselling or developing her property commercially to make a big profit.  Her home was purchased as an investment in her future, a place to start and raise a family and enjoy their leisure time.  She views Troy Road as a unique residential area.  She believes allowing professional offices would eventually choke out residents, and would spread uncontrollably.  She supports removing professional offices from the R-2 zone to protect the residential character of the Town, while designating specific areas where professional development would enhance rather than detract the surroundings.  The Town should decide where we want development, making it clear that the preservation of our neighborhood is of utmost importance to us as a Town.  There are plenty of areas available for responsible, professional development.  Removing professional offices from R-2 will not devalue property.  To the contrary, if a professional office where to be allowed to be built near her home, this would devalue her property to anyone else but a commercial developer.  No residential homebuyer would want to purchase her home.  The Town Code requires a professional office to abut both a major and minor arterial.  Therefore, there are only a handful of properties that would be effected by this proposal.  

Alice Rubenfeld, 2122 Orchard Park Drive, spoke as a resident, real estate broker, and as a member of the Zoning Board of Appeals.  The ZBA hears cases seeking relief from the major and minor access.  She feels the Town has been negligent in its unwillingness to define what should be professional zones within the scope of the zoning ordinance, and cited many variances issued on Union Street as an example.  She reminded residents that they have an R-P zone at Vly Road and the Lawrence 15 acre parcel which can legitimately house a 105,000 square foot professional building unless it is broken up and they get variances to build more than one building on one parcel.  
There is a residential character to Niskayuna and we have a responsibility to the residents.  By taking professional buildings out of the R-2 zone this will not prohibit the single doctor from practicing a home occupation.  It will prevent a developer from combining five parcels and building a 20,000 square foot office building.  This community contains both young families and the graying community some of whom need to use buses to receive medical services.   It is necessary that this Town become a cohesive and complete entity.  Just as we provide grocery stores, we need access to doctors, dentists and pharmacies.  Within the R-2 zone, this is an unfair use.  The current system is elitist and unfair.

John Westney, 2210 Troy Road, as a member of the Schenectady Economic Development Corporation, believes economic entities within a Town need diversity.  He took issue with the descriptions of the citizens meetings that took place regarding Troy Road.  He did not think it was an open forum and felt some speakers were afraid to speak.  He agrees that the Town should address appropriate ordinances so economic diversity can occur in the appropriate parts of Town, without repeated variances. The actions of the Town Board should not constitute the beginning of the restriction of all uses in all areas of the Town.  He hoped there was no illusion that commerce is not an important part of our Town today.  

George Curtis, 2126 Union Street, offered the Board his sympathy in trying to resolve this complex issue and addressed only the Union Street corridor.  As a longtime resident in R-1 he has had to endure years of inconvenience, noise, and construction and has tried to maintain his property in an attractive manner.  The Town owes the residents a loud voice and sensitivity to what the residents have to endure.  There should be Planning restrictions which will apply and assure protection.  There are drawbacks residing on Union Street that other Town residents have not had.  If the Town allows a medical center or any other commercial entity along this avenue it will increase traffic which is something else they will have to endure as immediate neighbors.  They have had enough.  The Town has to become sensitive and protect the jewel that exists along this corridor.  We welcome outsiders with a favorable impression – let us keep it that way.

Scott Crowder, 2485 Troy Road, explained that the process of looking at the future of Troy Road has been occurring for over two years. The November meeting two years ago was attended by over 100 people, the majority of whom absolutely supported non-commercial development of Troy Road.  He was the first speaker and felt no one else feared speaking.  He is very disturbed that the residents are not being taken care of and protected in their neighborhood.  Route 7 is not an economic development zone.  We have lost the battle on lower Union Street, which is often gridlocked.  Not one residential home is left on Central Avenue in Colonie. Route 20 in Guilderland, and Route 9 are similar examples.  We do not need more services from doctors, dentists and lawyers in Niskayuna.  Our services are all within a few minutes drive.  He asked the Board to do the right thing by taking professional offices out of R-2.  

D. Strayer, 921 Morgan Avenue, believes the image of Niskayuna as a residential community places a value on property values.  People pay more to live here because they want to live in a residentially based neighborhood.  The only viable professional business today is large-scale business, which, for the most part, is inappropriate in the R-2 zone.  He described the history of a down state town who built up commercial with no decreases in taxes.   The Town has had to widen roads and increase services.  It destroyed the residential nature of the area surrounding huge office spaces.  He does not want to see that happen in Niskayuna.  We need to protect our residential character.  He is not against development and areas such as Mohawk Mall and the northwest corner may well be well suited for development.  We can augment our tax base but we have to do it smart.  We cannot rely on ambiguity and granting variances, which does not protect our asset of residential character.  At a minimum this issue has been discussed over the last two years so it is not new.  The longer we wait the more vulnerable we become.  Once we begin to have large-scale development it will be difficult to stop.  He asked the Board to consider closing the door on professional development in R-2 and promise to go forward from here and examine where we can develop businesses in Niskayuna to improve the business climate, protect the residential climate, and protect what we have.

Ann Walravan, Menlo Park Road, grew up on Troy Road but would not live there now because it was destroyed when it became four lanes.  It is shortsighted not to plan more carefully what the Town will be doing on Troy Road.  Troy Road has no community feeling with no stores or shops.  

Richard Tentor, 1039 Merlin Drive, 1039 Merlin Drive, stated that the zoning changes being reviewed tonight go from the R-2 zoning rendering three properties as non-conforming.  It also designates an R-2 property R-3 and creates the R-P area.  Either intentionally or unintentionally, areas for development have been curtailed and reduced.  He wondered if this zoning change represents the best long-range plan for Niskayuna and does it support the statement that the Town Supervisor is in support of commercial development.  The R-P zone covers a 4-acre parcel owned by the Korean Church, and a 15-acre plot near Craig School which we all believe will not be developed.  The only property available is the Ritterband-Schwartz property which does not represent long range planning and a development plan to develop a specific area into R-P utilization.
He concluded that this represents spot zoning because it is done for a particular 7-acre lot.  The long-range comprehensive plan does not specify the lands that should be dedicated to the R-P zone.  The designated property was determined selectively on some basis and he questions what basis.  
The long-range plan also has other areas for major consideration.  One of the plans has been approved by Councilwoman Kasper and Councilman Chapman. No action has been taken on their recommendation for the Overlay District, which they supported.  The record shows that there are eight properties in the R-2 zone that received zoning board approval even though they were not on a major and minor arterial under the auspices of Bill Hendricks.  However, as Chairman of the Planning Board, Mr. Hendricks will not grant the same exception.  This is an inconsistent policy.  He advocates that the proposal before us tonight be voted down and a Comprehensive Plan be formulated that gives adequate consideration to Niskayuna residents and provide them with the facilities and services that they desire.  This plan for R-P does not meet any of those requirements.

Frank Herva, residing at 1359 Cullen Avenue with an office at 1759 Union Street is generally in favor of changing the R-2 zone.  He asked the Board to look at the traffic corridors and the way traffic flows through Town.  They need to identify regions and zones, 200’ to 500’ strips, for particular use other than residential.  When the Planning Board starts to approve 60’ wide roads as a residential development then we can call Route 7 and 146 residential areas.  He questioned whether Mohawk Mall would come back and he suggests a forum be conducted to take the time to study and sort through the issues, which have been left open for seven years.   

Shelly Lupe, 893 Balltown Road, feels there is a lot of agreement in the room with maintaining the residential character of Niskayuna.  There are travel corridors that lead into our community that are beautiful and set the tone for our character.  There are areas obvious for development such as the northwest corner, Mohawk Mall area, Route 7 from the Colonie border to Birchwood Lane, Union Street between Route 7 and Union Street on Balltown Road, and the Town Center Overlay District.  These areas will be effected by the resolution being considered.  The Planning Board put a subcommittee together and looked at this issue for two weeks.  This is not enough time to weigh all these areas and see if they should have professional offices removed from them. Those here tonight seem split on this issue.  Some residents who purchased R-2 properties purchased knowing they could develop up to 9,000 square foot and erect a professional office.  The Board is devaluing the property when they take away this right.  Other property owners object to this.  She asked the Board to take two months to study all the areas more thoroughly.  

Michael Mansion, 1031 Vrooman Avenue, lives 150 yards off Route 7.  He was attracted to Niskayuna because the taxes were lower than Schenectady.  Each year his taxes increase.  If the Board carefully plans out and considers appropriate office buildings in the appropriate spots we can all live in harmony.  He felt the Board might open themselves up to legal challenges if they spot zone and asked them to carefully consider what they are attempting to do.

Thurston Sack, 1924 Townsend Road, believes the amendment will impact the community within the next thirty years and suggested that the legislation has too many items together and should be separated.  He asked the Board to take four or five months to consider this amendment.

Mark Moses, 1307 Fox Hollow Road, felt it was wrong to eliminate 25% of the Town from professional offices.  He wants to take a longer look and examine what areas are appropriate for development and which are not.  

Jerry LaGoy, Aqueduct Road, is concerned about taking out professional buildings from R-2.  He is disturbed by a desire to rezone one portion of R-2 so that it can be commercial or professional. He sensed a weakening of the authority of the Planning Board and the Zoning Board and concentrating it on the Town Board.  

Leslie Gold, 1919 Pawtucket, appeared as a resident and member of the Plannning Board.  She felt there is a consensus that we want our Troy Road entrance to Town to be residential.  She is at a loss to understand why we would want less for the northern entrance to Town coming from the Mohawk River and wondered why we would want to make this more commercial.  The commercial properties currently located here received opposition from the neighbors.  She noted that the Town Attorney was researching New York State Town Law dealing with development rights.  This particular part of the law cautions towns against taking away from low and middle-income residential land, that these groups of citizens not be impacted adversely and is clearly our middle income.  
The R-P zone was created long after the R-2 zone was created.  An agreement was made years ago when the northern part of Balltown Road was re-zoned that we would not re-zone parcels near Craig School, JCC, churches, and the soccer fields.  As a resident who visits this area frequently, she is very concerned about the impact of more professional offices in the corner of Balltown/River/Zenner.  She has not seen anything official on the Crisafulli plan.
She is in favor of removing professional offices from R-2.  She has proposed that we go forward with this and take a sequential look at Balltown Road, and the northwest corner.  As a planner, it seems foolhardy to go ahead with re-zoning the Balltown/Zenner/River Road area without looking at cumulative impacts for whatever will happen in the northwest corner.  If we proceed with it, we would want to look at all the impacts. She would also look at the Union Street parcel where past residents have petitioned the Town to re-zone it because they do not feel they can sell their homes as residences any more.  The Mohawk Mall area will be redeveloped and once that is done we need to look at parcels north of CVS and Van Antwerp to see what logically fits here and can it be maintained as residential.  She believes we need to look at the cumulative traffic impacts to see if we will lose the residential character from that whole corridor.  We could put a squeeze play on the center of Town if we over develop both the north and south ends.  The Planning Board subcommittee will meet and look at additional steps.  The Town should not stop, but look very carefully.

Marilyn Bard, 2315 Alton Street, read a letter from residents Lisa and Theo Santoso of 2466 Troy Road, who are not in favor of the zoning amendment.  They believe Troy Road is a major arterial where business belongs.  They felt the benefits of development far outweigh any extra traffic.  

Earl Slanker, 847 Hereford Way, is scared of the proposed amendment.  He would like to see more time and effort put into this project.  He thought the definition of R-P and commercial property is confused.  No one wants to commercialize Route 7.  He asked the Board to step back and map out a plan.  

Susan Calarco, 2858 Troy Road, lives and owns a business on Troy Road.  Those who object to the five-lane Troy Road should have spoken when it was expanded.  She disagreed that Troy Road residents are a neighborhood when the traffic moves at 50 to 55 mph.  She agrees many homes are green and beautiful and we have the opportunity to continue to make Route 7 as beautiful as it is with some businesses and some residences and everyone will be happy. Our taxes are an issue and need to be considered.

Lil Stacey, 2253 Niskayuna Drive, explained that when she selected Niskayuna Drive to live she never dreamed there would be a medical building at the end of the street, along with a church.  The medical building has improved the area. She believes the proposed medical building on Troy Road would be more attractive than the business currently at the corner of Troy and Pearse Road as a representative of Niskayuna.  Any proposed development of Zenner Road will double the traffic on Niskayuna Drive to avoid congestion on Balltown Road.

Steve Rosenberg, 905 Mohegan Avenue, stated we want to maintain a residential character but this is on a major five lane fast moving highway.  It is not the neighborhood street.  He mentioned Hilton Head, South Carolina, where zoning requires commercial properties to appear as residential properties. He feels there are ways to have commercial without damaging the residential character.  He suggested more restriction and clarification on commercial development to meet everyone’s needs.

Lorene Zabin, 2455 Brookshire Drive, remarked that Route 7 is a four-lane highway, not five.  The R-2 zones are smaller lot, single family homes, with little vacant space and few corners that would adapt to the major/minor arterial that is necessary.  Most of the R-P zone is open space that has not been developed. R-2 takes into account Old Niskayuna, Country Club Estates (behind the Mohawk Club) and a portion of Troy Road.  This is not a Troy Road issue but an issue that the Town has neglected because of controversy for seven years.  This issue has been studied and dissected for seven years and recommended strongly by the Planning Board.  Past Town Board’s have postponed this tough decision, but this is a start.

D. Strayer, 921 Morgan Avenue, views Route 7 as a residential neighborhood.  Route 7 impacts all of the streets adjacent to it.  If it were developed his neighborhood would be impacted adversely.

Sally Lester, 2451 Troy Road, recalled discussions at the 1971 meetings adopting the zoning ordinance when RPI professionals warned the Town that if Troy Road becomes commercial, drivers will find alternate routes through adjacent roads to proceed through Town.  She asked the Board to follow the recommendation of the Planning Board and remove professional offices from the R-2 zone.

Fred Voss, 2293 Troy Road, stated that the problem is not with the zoning laws but with variances.  He suggested eliminating variances and passing this legislation.   

Jerry LaGoy, Aqueduct Road, stated that even though this is an honest attempt to solve a problem, he is concerned that if re-zoning takes place, residents in adjoining areas are not spared noise, traffic, or lights.  

Theresa McCarthy, 21 Covington Court, stated that the R-2 district of Troy Road ends at Mohawk Road and development of office buildings within R-2 will not effect the whole of Troy Road.  She asked that the Comprehensive Plan be updated – it is obsolete.

Mr. Wallravan, 209 Menlo Park Road, stated that he was sure no one was thinking about a Wendy’s or a big market.  Couldn’t the Planning or Zoning Board make allowances for responsible office-type buildings, of a certain size and architectural nature through variances?  Properties on Troy Road have gone begging or sold for low prices.  He felt this could be looked at in a responsible manner.  Good suggestions have been made which would still be in keeping with the residential character of Troy Road and adjoining neighborhoods which would not take away, and if anything, like Dr. McCarthy’s plans, would enhance the area.   


        Jerry LaGoy, Aqueduct Road, stated he had been in communication with the Town for about 15 months about a problem with the Recreation Center.  He supports 95% of the programs at the Center, but has problems with noise from  teenage parties.  The acoustics are terrible and he believes the parent chaperons are not concerned for the neighborhood.  Neighbors are also worried about the clear cutting of trees and open fire burning.  He is not yet worried about traffic.  He conducted an informal survey and found surrounding communities do not allow alcohol at their recreation center.
There is only one access road, which is dangerous, and flares are needed on Aqueduct Road when parents are picking up children after an event.  He suggested using the Center as a convention center, and suggested the neighbors and Board work together for a solution.

Mark Lager, 2615 Aqueduct Road, brought photos of work being done on Aqueduct Road by Waste Management Company which is adjacent to property he is leasing.  There is a dispute as to who owns the property, which must be ascertained through legal research.  


        The following resolutions were approved with a vote of four ayes (Councilwoman Kasper was absent), unless otherwise noted.

        Resolution 2000-123,  approved the establishment of Park District No. 14 for the River Hills Subdivision on River Road.

        Resolution 2000-124, approved the establishment of Drainage District No. 16 for the River Hills Subdivision on River Road.


        Resolution 2000-125, authorizes Richard Hyde to attend a legal & Regulatory Workshop at a total cost of $80, and Thomas Cannizzo to attend the Eastern States Building officials Conference at a cost of $70.

        Resolution 2000-126, authorizes issuance of $140,000 in serial bonds to pay for the purchase of highway equipment.      

Resolution 2000-127, authorizes advertisement for bids for the purchase of a 2000 diesel powered conventional truck cab and chassis with dump body, hoist and snow removal equipment, and a 20 ton equipment trailer.  

        Resolution 2000-128, approves a special use permit for 1440 Balltown Road, Victor Caponera, as agent for Kindercare to construct a 10,563 square foot day care facility.

        Resolution 2000-129, appoints Diane O’Donnell to the Zoning Board of Appeals to fill the remainder of a term to expire December 31, 2006, and appoints Arnold Steigman, as Chairman for the remainder of 2000.  The resolution was approved by 3 ayes, Councilman Horton voting no.

        Resolution 2000-130, employs additional persons for the Recreation Department Programs.

        There being no further business to come before the Board, the meeting was adjourned.

                                                Helen Kopke, Town Clerk

One Niskayuna Circle, Niskayuna, NY 12309
Phone: (518) 386-4500 Fax: (518) 386-4592 | Hours: M-F 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.