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Town Board Minutes 06/06/2000

        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; Darryl Ostrander, Deputy Police Chief; Charlie Goldstock, Deputy Zoning Enforcement Officer; Richard Harris, Town Planner; Paul Sebesta, Comptroller; Bill Hendricks, Chairman, Planning Board.


        Upon motion of Councilwoman Donnelly, which was seconded by Supervisor Smith, the minutes of the meeting of May 6 and 16 were approved as presented.


        Dave Fleck, 829 Pearse Road, addressed the issue of the repair of his driveway after a sewer extension is constructed on Pearse Road.   Deputy Town Attorney Paul Briggs had told him that the Town would only patch the driveway and not include a skim coat.  Mr. Fleck felt it would be unfair to have his property values lessened while his neighbor’s values will increase with the sewer hookup. At the least he would like his driveway patched and skim coated, and leave it in the condition it is now.  He praised Deputy Town Attorney Paul Briggs for his courtesy and consideration. Mr. Briggs informed him of the situation and also followed up.

        Judith Calvelli, 2644 Troy Road, urged the Board to pass the resolution to eliminate professional commercial development from the R-2 zones.  She stated can no longer allow a land developer with political connections and $200,000 to turn the Town upside down for two years and then take the Town to court.  This Board needs to show the courage which prior Boards did not.  They need to have the conviction and foresight to end the quagmire of variances once and for all.  Despite what wealthy developers and their influential friends may say, Troy Road is a neighborhood where people young and old have chosen to live.  If they do the right thing for the Troy Road community the entire Town benefits

Shelly Lupe, 893 Balltown Road, recently published a letter to the editor what she thought would be a more balanced proposal.  She felt the Town is “piece-mealing” the master plan by only looking at one recommendation to remove office space from the R-2 zone.  She has been led to believe by the Supervisor, that the Board would be considering professional office space placement.  She asked that they delay tonight’s vote and consider both sides of the R-2 proposal and place professional office space where she believes it should be and would maintain the residential quality of the community.  We may be predominately residential but there is the need for services.  Typically in a New England town, services would be located at the entrances of the Town such as Balltown Road from Union Street to Route 7, Route 7 from Birchwood Lane to Colonie, the northwest corner, the Mohawk Mall area, Union Street from Schenectady to Cornelius, and from CVS to WRGB.  She feels this is a balanced proposal and asked for one more month to give both sides consideration.

Lorene Zabin, 2455 Brookshire Drive, stated there are ten areas of Town that are zoned R-2 and in all of these sections, few if any, corners are suitable or meet the criteria of a major/minor access.  This is one of the main conditions for the approval of professional office buildings.  Along with the land and other requirements, the final acceptance of this section of the Comprehensive Plan dealing with the removal of this portion makes enormous sense. The action will help define the community and outline the area where professional growth is accepted and desired.  It also serves the residents of the R-2 zone of the Town for they have feared the invasion of their neighborhoods with over ambitious commercial building.  She is not in real estate nor a developer or own sizeable parcels of land.  Our Town is faced with those who want to develop in residential sections and those that want to live in residential sections.  She hopes the Board approves the amendment to the zoning ordinance and that the Board finds appropriate locations for professional office buildings.

Peter Zeltins, 1828 Union Street, felt that the zoning amendment was rushed and predicted if professional offices are taken out of R-2, that residents will request lower assessments. He felt properties would certainly be devalued especially on Union Street.  They now only have eight or nine residents left who won’t be able to use their property as broadly as previous homeowners.  

Sally Lester, 2451 Troy Road, hoped that professional offices are taken out of the R-2 zone.  

Charlene Shanin, 2171 Webster Lane,  asked the Board for leadership and vision for good planning.  She asked that the zoning amendment be sent back to the Planning Board.  She stressed that we need a plan where the town will grow in a way that encourages business while maintaining our residential quality.  Troy Road is a four-lane highway and the main artery from the east to the west.  People who want residential should be on a street that is safe for children.  Let’s put professional offices on Troy Road and build our tax base.  We need to build business at the portals of the Town and need to have services available to us.  This amendment places an increased burden on the taxpayers and she believes taxes will go up if they do not encourage business and as they lessen the possibility for business.  This will decrease house values on Troy Road.  

Jeff Gaul, 2279 Preisman Drive, announced that the Economic Development Committee formally voted on a report that the Town Board recently received.  The report is in the form of a list of items the Committee hoped that the Town Board would consider in their decision on the zoning amendment. The Committee’s objective was to share their concerns.  He is personally in the middle of the issue and hoped the Board will do the right thing.
Supervisor Smith remarked that the Board was not considering rezoning the R-P zone tonight. They wished to look at it further because of traffic impact concerns of the Conservation Advisory Council as they look at areas being considered for commercial development.  He hoped this would go forward fairly soon.  

Mary Ellen Gidley, 1836 Union Street, asked the Board to reconsider taking professional offices out of the Union Street area.  The neighborhood has changed because of the zoning law for professional offices.  She observed that professional offices have been well maintained, nicely landscaped, and the property values have increased.  Because these offices have moved so far up Union Street, these homes are in an awkward position.

Richard Tentor, 1039 Merlin Drive,  asked why a big fuss with a major and minor arterial rather than utilizing the definition that has been used by the ZBA which reads it to be major or minor.  He commented that Section B calls for properties that are existing professional offices as non-conforming and stated that professional bankers would say that the value of property decreases when it’s considered non-conforming.  
Mr. Tentor believes the value of properties in the R-2 district will decrease based on the proposed zoning amendment.  He has submitted a petition which petitions the Board to act in accordance with the requirements of the Zoning Code Paragraph 220-72(e)2 which requires that any amendments or changes shall not become effective except by a favorable vote of at least ¾ of the members of the Town Board.  He and his attorney believe this is an appropriate petition and well founded.  
Supervisor Smith remarked that the petition was received today and was given to each Board member.  They will vote tonight and, depending on the vote, a final determination will be made after a review of the petition.  

Mike Heim, 941 Morgan Avenue, stated he already has services at the periphery of the residential area of Niskayuna and he leaves these services when he crosses the boundary into Niskayuna on Route 7.  He would like to continue to do this.  He has read through the master plan and hoped this Board and future Boards will move on various pieces.  He would like to remove some of the neighbor against neighbor fight.  There are some people who would benefit.  The repercussions of the neighborhood decline are well stated from others who have seen this happen elsewhere.  He wants to get it away from the piecemeal approach of a developer making a quick score and then watch as properties are scooped up from people who can’t sell a residential property adjoining or next door to a commercial development.  People did not move to Niskayuna to live next door to a commercial development.  He considers the passageway and walkway on Route 7 a value to the community.  

Lisa Ashworth, 2976 Troy Road, stated that Troy Road is a residential community even though it is on a four-lane road.  She purchased her home knowing children would be raised in her home and the road did not deter her from purchasing her home.  Her neighbors have children and more children continue to be born who live on Troy Road.  Some people think the homes should be bulldozed for commercial and she is afraid this could happen if we allow changes to creep in.  Removing professional offices will not devalue her property but will withhold its value because it maintains its value as a residence.  If a neighbor sold to a developer who built a professional office, then no one would want to buy her home as a residence.  This gives no incentive to maintain a home, improve it, or want to stay.  She understands that this is a first step and realizes the Board cannot move forward on the 1993 Comprehensive Plan all at once.  She asked the Board to remove professional offices from the R-2 districts since many others uses remain under R-2.  

Fred Vorst, 2392 Troy Road, stated his belief that businesses in Town do not form a stable tax base, but residences do.  He feels keeping the Town residential will protect tax revenue stability.  He asked the Town Board to not allow variances to eliminate the problems we have had with development.

Steve Rosenberg, 905 Mohegan Road,  reminded the Board that trailer parks are allowed in the R-2 zone and asked if the Troy Road residents would like to see a trailer park on Troy Road.  He did not see the logic of picking on professional office buildings and he did not see the difference between the Alterra nursing facility and a properly designed office facility.  He asked the Board not to single out the professional office.  

Ruth Stevenson, 2626 Troy Road, believes there is a big difference between a nursing home and a professional office building because it is essentially domestic.  It is the domestic nature of Niskayuna that she believes the Board is trying to preserve in the action suggested to remove professional office buildings from the R-2 zone.  Niskayuna is distinguished from other communities in that it is more beautiful than any of our neighboring towns.  One of the reasons is that it is principally domestic with trees, gardens, and people.  Our architecture directs itself to people.  In contrast, to commercial architecture (even commercial architecture for a professional office building that might be very expensive) which looks utilitarian.  These buildings can be taken down at any time.  When a house is taken down, they are not replaced.  When she has visited New England towns, commercial buildings do not greet her on the way in.  What distinguish New England is its beauty, green space, and residential character.  She urged the Board to maintain what distinguishes Niskayuna – its beauty and heritage, which she expects, will extend in the future if the Board works to insure our future.

Scott Crowder, 2485 Troy Road, described the two-year battle that has been fought by the residents of Niskayuna and Troy Road.  The Troy Road Association was formed because Town officials thought they knew better for them than the residents knew for themselves. Troy Road is a neighborhood and the neighbor’s support Alterra because it is a service provided to the community.  There are less than 10 or 15 cars per day into the property.  The proposed medical office building at 2993 Troy Road was estimated to have 400 cars per day which is more traffic than all the residents produce on the whole road.   He believes Troy Road works efficiently because the traffic is funneled from Union Street to Latham without stops for businesses.  He reminded the Board that their action would be remembered for 50 years to come.  He felt developers are looking at Niskayuna because of the commercial condition of Colonie, Latham, and Guilderland, which have devalued residential properties along main thoroughfares such as Central Avenue and Wolf Road.   Controlled growth is good for the Town.  Allowing medical professional in the R-2 is not.  Those who want to see this built are people who want to profit not the neighbors who live there.  The Board is in place to protect the residents and he asked the Board to listen to the residents and do the right thing.  

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

Richard Tentor, 1039 Merlin Drive, noted that in the petition that was filed, the people who are eligible to vote on zoning changes are covered by the zoning law.  The law says that people who are adjacent within 100’ of the effected property can vote as to whether they want a change in the zoning requirements.  97% of the people who are adjacent and meet that requirement have signed the petition objecting to these changes.  They are not here tonight but their voice is heard through the petition.
Supervisor Smith noted correspondence that had recently been received from Don and Mollie Anthony, 918 Birchwood Lane, who were in favor of removing professional offices from the R-2; a petition signed by Taxpayers for Responsible Planning, against the changes which contained approximately 15 signatures from various streets within Town; Corey Gold, Balltown Road, agrees with removing professional offices but is opposed to the creation of the R-P zone at Balltown Road and River Road; Diane Sturman, Hawthorne Road, who is in favor of removal professional offices from R-2 and is generally in favor of the creation of the R-P zone and offered a variation on past discussions; and Larry Felpel, Aqueduct Road, requested a longer review before changes are made.

        All of the resolutions were approved with a vote of five ayes, except where noted.

        Resolution 2000-131, amends the Zoning Ordinance to delete professional offices, medical and non-medical, from the R-2 zone and replaces Section 220-52, Chapter 220, regarding non-conforming uses.  The resolution was approved with a vote of three ayes, with Councilman Horton and Councilwoman Donnelly voting no.

        Resolution 2000-132, appoints Anthony Gentile as a temporary part-time building inspector, without benefits, at $20 per hour not to exceed $4,800.

        Resolution 2000-133, makes miscellaneous line item budgetary modifications.

        Resolution 2000-134, reappoints Jennifer Belber as a temporary full-time Clerk to the Town Justice at a Grade 7, at an annual salary of $21,277 effective June 1, 2000 to terminate December 31, 2000.

        Resolution 2000-135, calls for a public hearing August 15 at 7 p.m. regarding the proposed Agency Plan for Section 8 Rental Assistance.

        Resolution 2000-136, retains services from The Cady Company to seal roadway cracks with liquid bituminous material under State contract at a total cost not to exceed $25,000.

        Resolution 2000-137, reappoints Brian Connor as a part-time, on-call dispatcher at $10.208 per hour without benefits.

        Resolution 2000-138, appoints Patricia Chambers, Maria Polsinelli, John Favata, and Eric Johnson as part-time, on-call dispatchers at $9.959 per hour, without benefits.

Resolution 2000-139, appoints Michael Stevens and John Baker as Civilian Police Dispatchers, effective immediately, at $21,314 per year.

        Resolution 2000-140, authorizes the supervisor to renew a 12-month service agreement with Dictaphone Corporation, for the multi-channel digital communications recording system for the Police Department, at a cost of $2,130.

        Resolution 2000-141, calls for a public hearing on June 20 at 7 p.m. to amend the Code entitled Peddling and Soliciting, to increase the fees to $250 for the initial application, and $75 for each employee’s application.

        Resolution 2000-142, employs additional persons in the Recreation Department.

        Resolution 2000-143, appoints Paul Marotta, as a temporary Grounds Maintenance Worker, not to exceed 180 days, at a salary of $11.14 per hour, effective immediately.

        Resolution 2000-144, approves an agreement to permit the construction and maintenance of a fence over a portion of Town utility easement for Corey Gold, 2551 Balltown Road.

        Resolution 2000-145, authorizes the execution of an Outside Sewer User Agreement for J & E Cerone for 848 St. David’s Lane.

Resolution 2000-146, authorizes Richard Keller to attend a Microsoft Access and Excel Course June 21 and 22, at SUNY Albany, at a cost of $30 each, and for Timothy Nagell to attend a Microsoft Excel Course at SUNY Albany June 21 at a cost of $30 and a Drinking Water Regulations and Aesthetics course on June 7 in Lake George at a cost of $15.

        Resolution 2000-147, establishes Extension No. 98 to Sewer District No. 6 on Pearse Road.

        Resolution 2000-148, accepts a proposal for the construction of Extension No. 98 to Sewer District 6 from Swartwout Construction, for the installation of 8 inch sewer line with manholes and wyes at a cost of $19,442.56.

        Resolution 2000-149, accepts an easement offered by Walton/Gloria Wallace of 835 Pearse Road, and Paul/Colleen Sebesta of 837 Pearse Road to construct and maintain municipal utilities.

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

                                        Helen F. Kopke, Town Clerk

One Niskayuna Circle, Niskayuna, NY 12309
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