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Town Board Minutes 05/07/2002

        HONORABLE               WILLIAM R. CHAPMAN              COUNCILMAN
                                RICHARD A. HOLT                 COUNCILMAN
                                DIANE P. O’DONNELL              COUNCILWOMAN
                                LUKE J. SMITH                   SUPERVISOR

        ABSENT:         LIZ ORZEL KASPER                        COUNCILWOMAN

        Others present:  Helen Kopke, Town Clerk; Eric Dickson, Town Attorney; Richard Pollock, Superintendent of Water & Sewer; Kathy Matern, Town Planner; Darryl Ostrander, Deputy Police Chief; Frank Gavin, Highway Superintendent; and Paul Sebesta, Comptroller.

        Supervisor Smith announced that he was pleased to see the Wall Street Journal today with Niskayuna featured on the first page of the second section regarding GE R & D.  This was important because usually with GE R&D is referred to in Schenectady, New York.  It was nice to see Niskayuna, New York.  


        Public Hearing No. 1 eliminates Powell Road (a paper street) from the Official Map
        Councilman Chapman described this public hearing which is a proposed change to remove a paper street from the Town map.  
Kathy Matern explained that this paper street runs between Randall Road and Avon Crest Boulevard and it was part of the original Avon Crest subdivision.  A resident requested that the road not be built because they would like to build two homes on two lots in this area.  The Police, Fire, and Planning Board have reviewed this request.  Fire District No. 2 had no problem with it.  The Police Department had a problem with visibility from Randall Road or Avon Crest would be a problem in an emergency situation.  The Planning Board felt it is not consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and felt that if the Town removes the paper street they would be setting an unwanted precedent.  They do not like to create flag lots and these will be two flag lots.  Even if the paper road is taken off the map, these two lots will need variances because of inadequate frontage.  
Ms. Matern suggested that the Board review if this road serves a purpose and if there is any traffic circulation problems to warrant taking it off the map. We do not have any traffic problem now.  If it is taken off the map two taxable parcels could be added to the assessment rolls if two houses are built.  Ultimately, it is up to the Town Board whether they should take this street off the map.  The original purpose of the road was to access the two lots in question.    Kathy explained that the original builder enjoyed riding his horses in this area and was told he did not have to build the road.
Supervisor Smith commented that it was his understanding that there was another purchaser of the property, however, Mr. Richard Preisman has made an offer to purchase the property from his aunt who is one of the original owners of the property.  

Asman Niaz, 855 Avon Crest Boulevard, owns the house alongside this paper street.  She bought the property in 1999 because it was very private.  The road was deeded to her for use by Mr. Frank.  She has a swimming pool next to the road and the back of her house opens to the back of the road.  This change will be inconvenient and she will lose privacy. She will not be able to use her pool because it is right next to the road.  Right now it is a gravel road and there is no traffic except foot traffic.  If these homes are built, she will lose privacy plus the security of her house.  Because it is such a private lot she will lose the value of the house tremendously.  It will be noisy and there will be more traffic. She is opposed to the road being built and houses being built.  

Dr. Berney, 855 Avon Crest Boulevard, stated his opposition to any change in this area and stated they will lose all privacy if the road or driveway is built.
Supervisor Smith remarked if the road is not removed, two houses could be built and the developer would have to build the road.  If the Board took no action, and the property owner wanted to build a road and two houses, the speaker would still be confronted with the same issue.  Tonight’s public hearing is only to address the issue of the paper street.  Prior to any action being taken the Town Board will notify him.  If they and the owner of the property wish to go forward, he suspects their recourse is to talk to their attorney to stop that from occurring.  He may have to talk to an attorney to get any action stopped.  Town Attorney Eric Dickson stated that the Town would be interested in seeing the deed review it.  Today, a Town road can be built at this location.  No action will be taken for at least two weeks.

Richard Preisman, spoke and stated he has a potential interest in purchasing the two lots on this paper road.  He believed the last speaker has an easement for the driveway, he does not own the property.  However, he feels it is in the best interest of the Town to eliminate the road from the Town map.  One driveway will go towards Avon Crest Boulevard.  The other driveway will go towards Randall Road and be minimal traffic as compared to a road that would be put in which he is sure would inconvenience all nearby neighbors.  If a driveway was built, they could still drive in and out of the neighbor’s driveway.  Attorney Dickson stated that the Town would not take title to a paper street that had an easement.  We would insist that they take it off unless it was an easement that was non-exclusive for use with others until the street was built.  

Linda Friedman, 142 Killarney Drive, believes from her records that Al Friedman lived at 855 Avon Crest Boulevard.  He brought his horse barn up from 10 Downing Street, and it is on the property with the paper street. In 1969-1970 the deed was signed over to the Town.  It does not appear to have been recorded with the County Clerk.  On C. T. Male maps it appeared to be signed over to the Town as a paper street as part of an agreement with one of the subdivisions.  When Al sold the house, there is a driveway to 855 Avon Crest Boulevard but because of the horse barn there were side driveways.  There is a U shaped driveway and behind the house there is a driveway to gain access to their kitchen.  She believes at that time an easement was granted by Al prepared by Attorney Joe Hopkins.  Since that time, other attorney’s looked at this and questioned whether he had the authority to give the easement since he had deeded the property over.  The easement was for the owners of 855 to be able to gain entrance to the back of their house.  She believes that it was to be used until a road was put in.  They have had this property for years.  Since 1997 another couple has spoken to them about the property.  Mr. Preismen has a contract now for economic reasons.  Two parties both have been trying to buy the land.  The purchase contract is far less than the assessed value because of the prohibited cost of the road.  Now because of his health, we no longer have horses.  She asked the Board to consider that the road not have to be placed.  She probably would not have a buyer if they have to put a road in.
When no further members of the public wished to heard, the Supervisor closed the public hearing.  

Public Hearing No. 2 – Special Use Permit for 1801 Union Street (St. Helen’s School)
        Michael Carroll, of St. Helen’s School, is Chair the Strategic Planning Committee of
St. Helen’s.  They propose to build an addition to the school that includes a glass foyer that will be a library/media center.  The added technology will make them more competitive with various schools and the style makes the building more appealing.  This addition will also add handicapped accessibility.  A glass lobby will also add to security because the office will be more in the front of the building.   
        When no members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed the public hearing.

Public Hearing No. 3 – Special Use Permit for 2635 Balltown Road (Trinity Baptist Church)
        Jim Gunther, Pastor of the Trinity Baptist Church, remarked that they proposed an 8,847 addition to the back of their building.  This will allow them to enlarge their worship area by 100 seats and provide a large activity room.  Activities include Sunday morning and Sunday & Wednesday night.  They are stretched for space on Sunday night because of their programs and activities.  Their youth are currently meeting at the JCC because they do not have space for them.  This will allow them to conduct their programs more efficiently and allow for future growth.
        When no members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed the public hearing.
Public Hearing No. 4 – Special Use Permit for 3120 Troy Road (Niskayuna Professional Development)
        Gary Hoffman, C. T. Male, described a proposed building project at 3120 Troy Road located on the Niskayuna side of Vly Road.  The lot is 12-1/4 acres in the R-P zone.  They propose a 60,000 SF office building.  They propose a new driveway on Route 7 and also a connector road to Vly Road that, according to NYS DOT, will not cause traffic problems.  The driveway will be located on the Niskayuna end of the site away from the Vly Road intersection because of traffic at peak times.  200 SF of parking will be allocated.  It will be a mix of medical and office building. Regardless of occupancy, they have accommodated sufficient parking.
DOT will allow a left turn out and in from Route 7.  They will also allow a right turn out, and a right turn in from Route 7. They have submitted a preliminary drainage report.  Water from the Talon Drive subdivision and the rest of the site head northerly toward Route 7.  The intent is to put a storm sewer system in the parking lot to pick up the majority of the pavement runoff and they also propose a storm water detention basin where they can route the storm sewer flows into the basin and they will have catch basins in the driveway that will be discharged under Route 7.  The Town has no sanitary sewer and they do have permission to tie into the Town of Colonie system through a trunk line that runs down Vly Road.  Water is available on Troy Road.  The site has a relatively large slope to it and the intent is to cut the back end of the lot down.  They may need a 3’ retaining wall.  By lowering the parking lot it will hide the parking lot especially with a buffer of trees for the residence on Talon Drive.  The building will sit at grade in the back and will be two-story.
No variances are needed for this property. Kathy Matern had no recollection of the Planning Board discussion about turning left onto Vly Road.
When no members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed the public hearing.

Public Hearing No. 5, Special Use Permit for an average density development to be known as Catherine’s Woods, Phase 2.
        Todd Westerville, ABD Engineers, spoke as a representative of the developer and stated that they intend to use 10 acres for an average density development that cuts the lot sizes to a minimum of 40,000 SF.  Catherine’s Woods Drive will exit onto Whitmyer Drive.  There is a stub street that will connect to Riverhill Boulevard.  They are not increasing the density on this parcel. They will also dedicating another 5.3 acres to the Town for open space and parklands.  The only disturbance of wetlands is the construction of one driveway onto one lot.  They have increased the front setbacks along the proposed road extension.  
        The Conservation Advisory Council requested the installation of two or three gravel parking spaces at the end of the cul-de-sac and Supervisor Smith agreed with this request.  Kathy Matern indicated that the museum property is attached to this location plus four acres already given to the Town by Phase I of Catherine’s Woods.  The Town will own this open space/parkland.  
        The storm water system is still in the design process.  The engineers will have to determine if it will need a detention area.  
Chester Griffith, 2117 Rankin Road, asked if this area was a protected wetland under Article 24.  Kathy Matern commented that  DEC had been contacted.

        Kevin Walsh, 2843 Whitmyer Drive, and member of the Planning Board, pointed out a stream on the property that runs constantly.  It leads to the nature preserve and the Mohawk River.  Regarding parking, he has no problem with parking spaces near the parkland because it would tie the nature preserve, Blatnik Park, and the Skate Park together.  Currently, the only way for residents in this area to get to Blatnik Park is to use River Road that is dangerous for kids on bikes.  There is already parking on Whitmyer Drive at he end at the nature preserve so there is no need for additional parking on Whitmyer.  He wondered if the dried sludge could be used to put a trail through and tie this area together.

        Michael Valentine, 4045 Mariaville Road, stated that the homes that are proposed in this subdivision are comparable if not larger than Phase I.  Appropriate landscaping will be included.  There will be deed restrictions of 4,000 SF minimum with all nature construction materials.

        The minutes of the Town Board meeting of April 2 and April 9, 2002 were approved as presented.

Dr. Merlin Prichard, 1671 Van Antwerp Road, is opposed to an inn because it will effect the peace and quiet of manyhomeowners on Van Antwerp Road.  He is also opposed due to the drainage.  He understands that the engineers plan to drain the storm water from the parking lot down across what is now Mr. Felthousen’s property onto the swale on his property where the inclination is 1 in 100’.  He already receives the toxic efflux from St. James Square parking lot.  Two years ago when a big storm came through, the back of his property was 6” under water.  For these reasons something should be changed in the engineering plans for this project.  He did not think it was legal for them to drain their property onto his and it might be subject to litigation.

        Chester Griffith, 2117 Rankin Road, commented that the solution to the parking problem on Rankin Road lies at the high school.  They have 160 spaces for seniors and have a graduating class of 300-350.  The solution is not putting signs on Rankin and Regent Street.  It won’t solve the problem but will lead to having to put them on Salem, Myron, and Dean Street and all of the streets to the city line.  There are 600 students in the junior and senior class who want to drive to school.  The high school makes $16,000 on parking permits over and above what they tax the student’s parents.  Signs in the neighborhoods disrupt homeowners.  It is a step backwards to consider putting up signs on our streets.  He does not want the signs and does not see the kids as a problem, but the school is a problem that we have to tolerate.  It is unrealistic in this day and age for them to have only 160 parking spaces for 600 students in 11th and 12th grade that might want to park at the school.  

        Joe Watson, 2101 Rankin Road, stated that he does not want signs on Rankin Road.  They ruin the character of the neighborhood, the homeowner can’t park there themselves, and their friends and relatives can’t park.  He wants the problem to be resolved with a reasonable solution that takes care of the problem.  Students will just move down another block and then more signs will be needed.  He felt it was a dangerous situation when he backs out from his driveway with cars parked on both sides of his driveway.  

        Lorene Zabin, 2455 Brookshire Drive, attended the public hearing for the Reggie Scott inn on January 29.  No one spoke in favor of the project.  No correspondence was read in favor of the project and everyone who attended spoke in opposition to the project.  No one from the project attended so few questions were answered.  The engineer from C. T. Male had just been assigned to the project so he was not informed and could not answer the questions put forth by the Board and the audience.  
Recently, Reggie Scott and Angelo Mazzone attended a Town Board meeting and spoke at privilege of the floor.  It is interesting that they could come to a Town Board meeting unannounced and not at a public hearing so the public could have become better informed.  Having a 72-room inn across from a near empty shopping center laughs at good planning and development.  At one time a dinner theater was proposed that seemed like a good idea.  The Town is a suburban Town that should enjoy some services but not a Town that would usurp the progress of urban facilities mainly the City of Schenectady.  Angelo Mazzone has a 22-room inn with a wonderful full service facility on a riverfront.  A 72-room inn with a view to nowhere is just filling up green space.  She suggested that the Board postpone the vote on the resolution in favor of calling a new public hearing insuring the public that the principals will be in attendance so that the most information available on this project would be presented to the public.  To introduce a re-use of the building before the inn has ever been voted on suggests some apprehension as to the success of the new Scott venture.  If this is being considered shouldn’t the public have an opportunity to comment on that possible proposal.  

        Sally Lester, 2451 Troy Road, urged the Board not to support the St. James inn.  She thinks it is embarrassing to think about Phase I and II and what has not happened.  Now we will have another edifice across the street.  

        John Forringer, 1543 Regent Street, recalled that signs on Regent Street and Rankin Road did solve the parking problem and now the problem is again with us and even worse.  The current parking causes dangerous conditions for residence backing out of their driveways.  Students have parked too close to stop signs, have parked on the grass, and some students park too close to driveways.  We are not sure fire trucks can get through on Rankin Road.  The Board should act to resolve this as it has done in the past.  There is a lack of citizenship on the part of the students.  The interim solution is to put the signs back up but the true solution is to expand the school’s parking lot.  The school should do something to allow students to park where they should park rather than creating dangerous conditions to the public.  The only other time parking is done on Rankin Road is Niska-Day.  This is a special event and people are courteous.  
        Supervisor Smith announced that he had received calls from residents Mrs. Adamec on Regent whom is in favor of the no parking signs.  Mr. Curran is in favor of the signs and wants signs for the whole area.  A Regent Street resident, who wished not to be identified, opposed students parking on the street.  Mr. Watson and Mrs. Amy Lalean signed a letter sent in opposition to the signs.
        When no further members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed Privilege of the Floor.


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

        Resolution 2002-139 issues a negative declaration under SEQRA and authorizes bids for the construction of a dehydration facility for Sewer District No. 6 at the Wastewater Treatment Facility.

        Resolution 2002-140  appoints Brian Casey and Patrick Dunlavey as temporary laborers in the Water & Sewer Department.

        Resolution 2002-141 retains consulting services of Anthony Sefcovic at $25 per hour until staffing returns to normal  to provide services at he Wastewater Treatment Plan.

Resolution 2002-142 reappoints Jennifer (Belber) Kaczor to the temporary full time position of Clerk to the Town Justice to terminate August 31, 2002.

        Resolution 2002-143 takes action to authorize the Supervisor to renew the Cisco route maintenance agreement with IPLogic at a cost of $353.80 effective through December 31, 2002.

        Resolution 2002-144 authorizes the Supervisor to enter into an agreement with Cool Insuring Agency, using Claredon National Insurance Company, for the insurance coverages at a cost not to exceed $234,584.08 pursuant to a proposal dated April 25, 2002.

        Resolution 2002-145 adopts Local Law No. 3 of 2002 entitled Sidewalk Installation, Maintenance and Repair.

        Resolution 2002-146 authorizes the Supervisor to retain Sterling Environmental Engineering to perform a perimeter gas survey for three months at a cost not to exceed $742 per month and to select the vents for a temporary passive venting system at a cost not to exceed $2,640.

        Resolution 2002-147 appoints temporary laborers in the Highway and Parks Department.

        Resolution 2002-148 modifies fees for use of the Town pool.

        Resolution 2002-149 authorizes printing of booklets for the summer recreation programs by Quality Graphics at a cost not to exceed $2,000.
        Resolution 2002-150 adopts Local Law No. 4 (2002) to extend a moratorium through October 8, 2002 on the review, approval, and /or issuance of permits for or relating to the establishment or relocation of adult use businesses in the Town.
        Resolution 2002-151 grants St. Helen’s Church a Special Use Permit to allow the construction of a 1,850 square foot addition (with conditions) to the school at 1801 Union Street

        Resolution 2002-152 grants Trinity Baptist Church a Special Use Permit to allow the construction of an 8,847 square foot addition to the existing church (with conditions) at 2635 Balltown Road.

        Resolution 2002-153 grants a Special User Permit to Reginald Scott to allow the construction of a 19,970 square foot inn (with conditions) to be located on Nott Street East.
        Supervisor Smith was pleased that one of the conditions of approval is that not only will the inn not contribute further storm water to the problem but will correct the existing flooding problem in the neighbors backyard.  This condition was established by the Planning Board.  
Councilman Chapman stated that the inn is a permitted use in this zone.  The prior Board changed the zone to allow inns in the R-3 district.  The applicant does not require variances and he owns the property.  The general character of the neighborhood is commercial with banks, stores, gas stations, etc.  We have heard comments about vacancies in Phase I, however, the applicant indicated he is partnering with Angelo Mazzone who runs a successful inn and is a businessman with experience running an inn.  He also indicated that he also had a financial commitment as well.  This provides reassurance that there will be a good manager if we decide to go forward on this.  The applicant has submitted a market analysis and the Town has asked about other uses such as other hotel chains.  He has indicated that he plans to have a shuttle service to Wolf Road and to the airport.  Although we do not want a vacant downtown Niskayuna, Mr. Scott has paid the taxes on St. James Square, he has installed good landscaping and there have been no issues with litter or noise.  Whether he is economically successful is not our concern.  Our concern is that an inn is a special permitted use.
Councilwoman O’Donnell wanted to be clear about the definition of Special Uses.  We have heard from citizens about their opinion about the inn and the possibility of dealing with the viability of the business. To her we are looking at the inn and its permitted use and the granting of a special use permit.  
Councilman Chapman commented that if the Board did not want an inn in the R-3 district then we should have taken this use out.  The applicant owns property between the proposed inn and homes on Van Antwerp Road.  .39 acres acts as a green space buffer between the inn and the neighbors.  This is both a visual and noise buffer.  The conservation easement will permit no development in the future.  Requirements stated in the resolution will give property owners an opportunity to correct some of the drainage issues that Dr. Prichard raised earlier in the meeting.  Mr. Scott has done a good job at St. James Square of controlling litter and noise.  He would like to see buffering of the cooling system as part of the design.  
Drainage is the biggest concern of Councilman Holt and he hopes that the conditions of the resolution are strong enough to address this.  He doubted that the inn would have a positive effect on Nott Street East after watching the evolution of Nott Street.  Many of his doubts have been alleviated by the stated conditions of acceptance of the Special User Permit, the architecture of the shopping center are very good.  It is not our place to judge the business aspect of it.  His doubts were alleviated by Mr. Mazzone’s outlook on the project.  
Supervisor Smith remarked that he did not want the Planning Board to surmise that the Town Board is in favor of a traffic signal at Nott Street and Van Antwerp Road.  He accepts this condition on the premise of equity that if the stoplight is put in that Mr. Scott should pay his fair share.  He does not agree with the condition and he hopes that the Planning Board is going to eliminate it. Kathy Matern reported that the County does not see a light going in the future as they do not foresee traffic patterns changing.

        Resolution 2002-154 appoints Frank Ham as a member of the Niskayuna Tree Council.

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

                                                Helen Kopke, Town Clerk  


One Niskayuna Circle, Niskayuna, NY 12309
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