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Town Board Minutes 05/02/2000

        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;  Darryl Ostrander, Deputy Police Chief; Frank Gavin, Superintendent of Highways;  Richard Harris, Town Planner; Richard Pollack, Superintendent of Water & Sewer; and Paul Sebesta, Comptroller.

        Public Hearing No. 1 - Special Use Permit for 1756 Union Street.  Dr. Brescia described the building.  He intends to move his medical practice into the building, and rent out half of the building to a low-volume professional business.  He estimated that six patients would be seen per hour.  He intends to revise the current landscaping, install light posts, flowers, and install split rail fence to separate his parking lot from the neighboring business.  
The Economic Development Committee has recommended that the Town Board give the proposal favorable consideration.  Their advisory suggestions will be forwarded to the Planning Board.  
When no one from the public asked to be heard, the public hearing was closed.

Public Hearing No. 2 – Special Use Permit to allow for the construction of a 10,563 square foot day care facility at 1440 Balltown Road.  Victor Caponera, who represents Kindercare Learning Centers, Inc., described the permit request.  The site received Town Board approval last year for construction of a two-story 22,000 square foot office building.  The present plan is to construct a single story 10,563 square foot day care facility.  In informal meetings with the Planning Board, suggestions were made to try to incorporate the front access onto Balltown Road with the existing property users to form a unified entrance. They will not be using all the owned property. They have received necessary approvals from the Zoning Board regarding the modification of two previous area variances, then came back to the Planning Board for a public hearing which was then subsequently approved.
The proposal incorporates everything that the Planning Board requested including an ingress/egress onto Nott Street that was previously required by an adjacent landowner from 1448 Balltown Road.  The previous approval provided eliminating certain parking spaces when the easement is effectuated.  
        The Economic Development Committee has recommended approval of this project based on economic development issues.
        Painted lines along the road will define the road onto Nott Street, and the parking space lines will be eliminated.  A representative from Bowler Engineering indicated they would stripe end islands and paint two-way directional traffic arrows which would indicate traffic patterns.  
Mr. Handleman (the current owner of the property) stated that it is a driveway and not a road because it is too narrow. Councilman Chapman asked that the markings be part of the easement arrangement with the other property.   Plans for access onto Nott Street are meant to ease traffic from Balltown Road.  The Planning Board felt it was important that it be included in the application.
        Hours of operation of the day care will be 6:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.  There is a maximum of 180 children, with an average of 70% occupancy.  No school or teaching facility is planned, nor kindergarten.  Strict New York State standards will be met once local approval is secured.  Pickup of children will be heaviest in the morning and evening, stretched over a 2-1/2 hour period.   No arrangements have been made for school bus drop-off of children.  They will use small Kindercare vans for this.  The play area will be in the rear and side of the property, will be used from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. only, and will be fenced in.  Evergreen trees and shrubs will be used as a buffer. A sidewalk will be provided from Balltown Road to the property.  
        When no members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed the public hearing.

        Upon motion of Councilman Kasper, which was seconded by Supervisor Smith, the minutes of the Regular meeting of April 18 were approved as presented.

        Supervisor Smith announced that Paul Zonderman, Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, has resignation from the Board.  PERB has informed him that any appointed position within Town government could bring into question his ability to be objective in his position as a mediator.

        Richard Tentor, 1039 Merlin Drive, noted that it appeared that the Town Board was taking under consideration the same zoning plan that was not passed by the Planning Board.  He recommended that in their consideration for the R-P’s that they also include the property designated on the Comprehensive Development Plan and also part of the Town Center Overlay District property designated C-N south of the WRGB facility.  
Supervisor Smith remarked that this was not up for consideration tonight, but with further discussion, could be under consideration in the future.  Mr. Tentor recommended that this be included in the public hearing which would be addressed tonight, and modify those to include the C-N property.

        The following resolutions were approved with a vote of five ayes, unless noted otherwise.

Resolution 2000-109, authorized the purchase of a used 1997 air compressor for the Water & Sewer Department from Albany Ladder, at a cost not to exceed $8,500.

        Resolution 2000-110, authorizes the appropriation of $25,000 from the Reserve Fund for Improvements for Sewer District 1, and $25,000 from the Reserve Fund for Improvements for Sewer District 6, said funds to be used to finance the purchase of sewer video equipment.
        Comptroller Paul Sebesta stated that the Town needs to have the financing in place before we accept the bids, whether that is now or when the bid is accepted. If bids are not accepted, or if the project does not go forward, funds will not be transferred.  Councilman Donnelly stated that this is preventative maintenance equipment and the purchase will move more quickly if the financing is in place now. Councilman Horton stated he understood this is a non-budgeted item, which needs to come from reserve funds.  Councilman Kasper felt it seemed early to move the funds.  
Supervisor Smith stated that the funds would remain in an interest bearing account until the equipment is purchased.  The Board has had a lot of discussion on this.  The Board is acting on the premise that vans and added personnel will not be necessary and that Water & Sewer staff will have the time to use this equipment.  This purchase is important because we have a system that is fairly old and we have a responsibility to begin to look to see where the problems are.  This is similar to the Town setting up a reasonable schedule to repave highways to keep them in good repair. The Board is acting responsibly in exploring where our problems may be.  
        Councilman Donnelly is confident that all of the equipment can fit into the back of a small pick up truck.  Councilman Chapman felt this equipment will help the staff be more efficient at doing their jobs.  Supervisor Smith added that some of the discussion with the public suggested that it might be cheaper to hire a camera when we have a problem.  This idea missed that we are moving in a different direction for preventative maintenance.  We do not want to depend on someone else’s schedule when we have a problem.  It is important that we have our own equipment.
        Resolution 2000-111, authorizes the advertisement for bids for a sewer video camera for the Water & Sewer Department.

        Resolution 2000-112, authorizes the advertisement for bids for mobile radios for the Water & Sewer Department.

        Resolution 2000-113, calls for a public hearing for May 16 at 7 p.m. to consider a petition to establish Park District No. 14, at the River Hill Subdivision.

        Resolution 2000-114, calls for a public hearing for May 16 at 7:05 p.m. to consider a petition to establish Drainage District No. 16 at the River Hill Subdivision.

        Resolution 2000-115, authorizes Paul Sebesta, Comptroller, to attend a SAMPO Conference in Saratoga Springs May 16 through 19 at a cost of $200, and Richard Harris, Planner, to attend a conference in Albany, at a cost of $75.

        Resolution 2000-116, authorizes the purchase of grass seed at $1.18/lb. From Merritt Seed Company, at a total cost not to exceed $8,000 for the year.

        Resolution 2000-117, retains Turf Partners, to fertilize the Town Soccer Park, Driving Range, and Town Hall at a cost not to exceed $8,000.

        Resolution 2000-118, grants Bernard Mericle a special use permit to allow the reuse of a building at 3000 Troy Road as a professional office subject to final site plan review.  Supervisor Smith noted that the Economic Development Committee had reviewed the proposal and recommended approval without conditions.  Discussion is continuing on the subject of a stockade fence.
        Tom Anders, of ABD Engineers & Surveyors, confirmed his understanding of curbs and lighting requirements.  Richard Harris described the Planning Board’s authority to waive lighting requirements if a conflict exists, which is often a conflict between a residential neighbor and interests in keeping safety and proper lighting with a non-residential use.
Under the current proposal, the center of the parking lot will be completely unlit. There are residential style fixtures that direct the light downward rather the current proposals, which direct the light out and up.  Councilman Horton did not want to overflow the lighting.  He was willing to go forward and thought it was a good idea, but he did not want the Board to hurriedly spend time on lighting issues when the Planning Board does this.  He felt 9 p.m. is a little late. Supervisor Smith is concerned that conditions which are made by the Board are in writing.  The Town Board agreed that they have some specific issues they want as conditions to approve the special use permit
The Town Board amended the resolution and added a condition to the special use that the parking lot be bordered by curbing made of pressured treated lumber at the Riverview Road and the south property line. Also, the parking lot lighting, except at the building, will be turned off by 9 p.m. except for nights when meetings occur.  The Town has been told meetings might occur two times per month. The union stated that on occasion they might have later meetings.  A motion to amend the original resolution was made by Councilman Chapman, which was seconded by Councilwoman Kasper.   

        Resolution 2000-119, grants Gerald Brescia a special use permit to allow the use of a building at 1756 Union Street as a medical and non-medical professional office subject to final site plan review.  
        Recommendations were made to omit the words “subject to certain conditions” by the Economic Development Committee, and on page 2 under the first condition, omit the words “and the Niskayuna Economic Development Committee.”  It was also agreed to omit the second condition (page2) because it is a required procedure.  
        A motion to amend the original resolution was made by Councilman Chapman, which was seconded by Councilwoman Kasper.    

        Resolution 2000-120, calls for a public hearing to consider amendment of the Zoning Ordinance to delete professional offices as special uses in the R-2 zone, and to introduce a proposed local law pertaining hereto.  
Councilman Donnelly asked if the Board is addressing an issue that the Planning Board could not reach a consensus on and for which they made no recommendation.  Supervisor Smith noted this is correct, although it has been clear that it has been a recommendation of the Planning Board since 1993.  He felt there was a consensus of removing professional offices from R-2, but a last minute amendment to the original proposal regarding the property between CVS and WRGB was put on without discussion.  This caused the Board to vote it down without recommendation. This was confusing because recently the Planning Board stated that this cannot be done piecemeal, and we need a more comprehensive study.  He felt it is important that we move forward, and that the Planning Board is in favor of removing professional offices from R-2.  Five of the seven members were part of the Planning Board that offered the original recommendation for the Comprehensive Plan.  He understood that the full proposal was put together with input from Angelo Muccigrosso and was a proposal that was going forward.
Because of other issues that were raised, he sees no reason why the Board should not go forward. There are a number of people in varied parts of Town who have made it very clear that they would like to see professional offices out of R-2.  
The second part of this proposal for the R-P zone was also a plan pushed by Mr. Muccigrosso.  We want to start the process of identifying economic zones in Town.  He is more than willing to look at other proposals that come forward.  This is an attempt to move forward on the Comprehensive Plan that the Planning Board chastised the last two Town Boards for not acting on.  If we do not act because the Planning Board could not come to consensus on the overall proposal we could end up not needing a Town Board.  
Councilman Donnelly had heard that this is not the first time that a project was acted upon by the Town Board without recommendation from the Planning Board.  Planner Harris stated that the Planning Board’s vote constituted a report to the Town Board.  They stated that this had happened before and the Town Board had considered the lack of consensus in their decisions.  Councilman Donnelly is uncomfortable since, by the vote of the Planning Board, there is no consensus.  She would be more comfortable if we had a recommendation from the Planning Board.  
Councilman Chapman stated that all Board members would be more comfortable with a Planning Board recommendation.  We have five members on the current Planning Board who prepared and endorsed Plan 93.  The land use goals are to sustain and enhance the Town’s residential character while providing for complimentary non-residential uses in appropriate locations. As an implementation task, they will use the C-O, which has been changed to R-P to establish areas appropriate for office development and remove the professional office use from the special permit list in the R-2 medium density residential district.  The Town should take action to sustain the essentially residential character of the Troy Road corridor by removing professional office use from this district.  The Town Board is responding to a long-standing recommendation, which is consistent with input from residents.
        Councilman Horton agreed that the issue needs to come before the Board so that the Town is not constantly faced with challenges to our zoning.  He is concerned that we are taking recommendations from the 1993 Plan one at a time, rather than asking the Planning Board to review it in its entirety.  
Supervisor Smith responded that the Planning Board could do this but he felt it could “turn the Town on its ear.”  He would like to look at these in a deliberative process, and, as we go through the recommendations, look at the intended and unintended consequences.  We should begin the process on a regular basis, and identify where we will have commercial development in Town.  He would like developers to know what the rules are to avoid controversies.  The amendment made to the proposal before the Planning Board had no discussion behind it and it did not fit.  This does not mean we will not have discussion in the future and it may be the very near future.  He wants to go forward with all deliberateness on the Comprehensive Plan but does not think we have to wait and study it again.  It is easy to increase the tax base by adding commercial.  He has asked the Economic Development Committee to come up with a concept review of what is best for Niskayuna.  
        Councilman Horton requested a working session on this topic.  He is concerned for our tax base if we eliminate professional office, commercial development, etc.  Councilman Chapman stated that if the residential neighborhoods are the value of this community this needs to be protected.  He felt the Board needs to look at specific implementation tasks, which have been recommended by the Planning Board.  A lot of what has been recommended to the Town Board in Plan 93 is already taking place.
        Upon roll call vote, the resolution was approved with four ayes, with Councilwoman Donnelly voting no.

        Resolution 2000-121, calls for a public hearing for May 16 at 7:10 p.m. to consider amendment of the Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Map.

                                        Helen Kopke, Town Clerk     

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