AT A REGULAR MEETING OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF NISKAYUNA DULY CALLED AND HELD ON THE 16TH OF JULY, 2002, AT THE TOWN OFFICE BUILDING, ONE NISKAYUNA CIRCLE, NISKAYUNA, NEW YORK, THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS WERE PRESENT:
HONORABLE LIZ ORZEL KASPER COUNCILWOMAN
WILLIAM R. CHAPMAN COUNCILMAN
RICHARD A. HOLT COUNCILMAN
DIANE P O’DONNEL COUNCILWOMAN
LUKE J. SMITH SUPERVISOR
A public hearing was held to consider a zone change on Nott Street East from R-1 Low Density Residential to R-3 High Density Residential. Supervisor Smith noted a letter written by Irving Mickey of 1562 Van Antwerp Road. He expressed a major concern relates to the drainage. The letter of objection mentions various typographical features, streams that run through the area, and also aesthetic considerations. He feels the proposal will change the character of the residential area and is opposed to the zone change
Greg Trip, of the site engineers C. T. Male, appeared for the applicant and described the construction of a 30-unit condominium development on 4.1 acres. The Planning Board approved the plan upon initial review. Parkland fees collected could be approximately $22,500 versus about $45,000 if 15 homes were built on this property. The site is near the library, Town Hall, post office, St. James Square, a school, apartment complex and single family homes. He feels that this zone change will provide a positive transition from the adjacent uses to the single-family homes.
Jeff Myers, the developer, described the property and that it slopes away from the road. He is in the initial stages of planning. The elevation from Nott Street will give the appearance of a two-story building. There will be six units shown on the front elevation and three units from the rear elevation. The two-story units are actually a ranch style unit with entrance from the lower level where the land slopes away from Nott Street. They are very similar in design to the townhouses already constructed on Nott Street East. The units will contain 1,40 to 2,200 square feet. Each unit will have a garage and additional parking space for guests. The total setback will be 80’ from the edge of the road.
Mr. Myers stated that his goal is to leave as many trees as possible along the outside of the property. They also have planned an extensive planting for the front of the property similar to the townhomes. 25% of the property will be green space. Traffic will enter and exit onto a new street. Access will be available to the entire front of the building and access between the two buildings and in the rear. This appears to be the last link of developable land and it seems like everything has been converging onto this property.
Mr. Myers described how water is currently running down a channel in the area and spreads across the Felthousen’s property. It continues onto Orchard Park Drive and Nott Street East. There is a 48” culvert that carries the water through Mohawk Trails and eventually through Orchard Park down through Fox Hill, through the General Electric property and then the Mohawk River. Their goal is to try and reroute most of this water and run it through a drainage system that would flow down through the middle of this property. It would end up draining down behind the library prior to getting it down to the single-family properties. C. T. Male is the designer of the system. They cannot keep water from coming from Rosendale Estates.
Councilman Chapman stated that Rosendale Estates is another source of water that he didn’t think they could ignore. Mr. Myers goal is to take the water and re-direct it away from the Felthousen’s and Dr. Prichard and his neighbors property. Councilman Chapman described a good size ditch that comes from Van Antwerp Road through the Felthousen property that dumps into the same ditch that is a culvert that comes down from Mr. Scott’s property to the right. He wondered if a large pipe would go underneath the asphalt to carry the water. He believed it is important that the engineers walk the property and understand that the water is coming from Van Antwerp Road and is running through the Felthousen’s property that is contributing to the drainage problem also.
According to Councilman Chapman, C. T. Male is working with Mr. Scott to develop a unified drainage plan for the two projects under consideration to deal with the water issues. Mr. Myers agreed that both sites will be looked at together to solve drainage issue of water being brought to this area from other sites. Upon the inquiry of Supervisor Smith, Mr. Myers acknowledged he would have to accept the responsibility and correcting the problem to go forward.
The cost of building the access road has not pursued between Mr. Scott and Mr. Myers. Mr. Myers understood that Mr. Scott was building the road, but he feels it will be a timing issue as to who is ready to build first. Supervisor Smith stated that in approving a Special Use Permit for the Scott development, the Planning Board included a condition that specifically states that the developer will correct the drainage problem in this area. Because of wetland issues, the Army Corps of Engineers would also have to be agreeable to the plan. Once pipe is run through, the land must be restored to the original wetlands condition by planting specific types of plants and replace similar soils to regenerate the wetlands.
Warren Weilt, 1605 Van Antwerp Road, pointed out an inaccuracy in the maps shown and asked that the map be corrected.
When the east side of Van Antwerp Road was filled in with water lines for the Knolls Atomic Power Lab, the water that normally came down where Philomenia Drive is now, came straight down through. This water was diverted to the right (before the road was straightened) and it came down the left side of Van Antwerp Road going north and ran into his property. He was told it was a low spot and there was nothing that could be done. Since that time two culverts have been installed between his house and the old Polsinelli farmhouse. It was changed a few years ago and the water was diverted off the road. He plugged up the tile in front of his house and let the water run down on Felthousen’s land parallel to his property line. Since then, they have had the water problem across the street
where a culvert has been installed in front of Mr. Rigley’s house and they tilted the drainage pipe. He feels that unless they can solve the water issue, the proposed development should not be done. When he first moved to his home he had no water in the basement and now he has a sump pump to keep the basement dry.
Marvin Prichard 1671 Van Antwerp Road, is opposed to the proposed condominiums. He feels peace and quiet will be disturbed and he is very concerned about the drainage. At the moment St. James Square discharges its efflux from its property over Felthousen’s onto his property. He would not appreciate any more people discharging their efflux onto his property. He agreed that residents of Van Antwerp Road already have a drainage problem during rainstorms. After a very heavy rainstorm the declination is about 45 degrees and it lands in the drain behind Mr. Wilt, himself, and McGovern's and the declination there is 1 in 100. The stream brings down stilt, the gully silts up, and the water flows back. Councilwoman Kasper stated that before the Town does anything, we have a
problem that needs to be addressed. If the developers take all the water and pipe it down directly on the south side of Nott Street on the north side of the library it will resolve a lot of the problems.
Dr. Prichard stated that there is no question that the St. James Square runoff exacerbated the drainage problem on Van Antwerp Road. The Phelominia drainage ditch through Felthousen’s has been in place for a number of years. Supervisor Smith stated that Mr. Myers is going to be called upon to solve a problem coming from Philomenia drainage. He and Mr. Myers were under the impression that they are fixing the problem that was created by St. James Square and what has happened to the drainage on Nott Street East. He is proposing a plan that is going to move water away from Van Antwerp Road.
Dr. Prichard proposed that if the developer could pipe all the water from the Inn, the area of the proposed development, and St. James Square, and take it down directly adjacent to Nott Street East it would solve the problem. Supervisor Smith stated that if this goes forward he wants to solve the problem. He asked it becomes so large that we are including Rosendale Estates and Philomenia and everything flowing down that way have we now fixed the problem since Nott Street East and St. James Square was put in? Dr. Prichard felt that there will still be a problem of highway water coming down, but by and large it would be a great alleviation of the problem.
Jo Friedman, corner of Heritage & Heather Lane, expressed her concern for consumer confidence in the Planning Board and Town Board and their future plans for the Town. She wondered why, when we have country living in Niskayuna, are we clear cutting expanses of trees, paving over green areas and changing zoning to create our own urban sprawl. If this has to continue as it is the right of owners of undeveloped land to exercise their right of private enterprise and use the land as they wish within the law, so it must be the right of residents who are also owners of land and property to expect the Town Board and Planning Board to protect their rights as well as to maintain the character of the Town.
Prospect action is always better than corrective action. She feels it is better to develop property by leaving 50 and 100-year-old trees than by replacing them with some that will take 40 years to mature. In one development in the town the site was inspected after trees had been cut. Before zoning is changed and site plans are approved she asked for confidence that as little damage as possible be done to the effected areas and to the environment. She asked hat the comfort and security of neighbors who have to live with the results be considered and that their yards will not be under water when it rains, and they won’t have mudslides in their backyards.
Mrs. Friedman requested a review of the Town’s code and regulations if they currently do not provide guidelines for development to avoid these occurrences. It is time to review the code, update it, and make changes to protect the residents. She believes that they are not adequate and that change needs to be made now.
Councilwoman Kasper is behind Mrs. Friedman’s opinions. Mr. Myers has proposed to build something that has now become a major drainage problem not caused by him but caused by all the development around him. When St. James went through, they discussed how Mr. Scott was going to solve the water problem. It has not been solved. The timing of the proposed Inn and Mr. Myers proposal is crucial. The more blacktop that is installed the less room there will be for water. She is also concerned about the loss of parkland funds and would rather see 15 single-family houses.
One of the ways we can control water is with trees. Every time we take trees and clear cut we are also removing another form of control. She saw what happened in Hummingbird Manor that was clear cut and is still being cut. The trees that are on the hill between Hummingbird and Paulsen’s development have been cut so close that they will probably die. The hill behind the townhouses eventually will not be able to hold water and we will lose more of the trees. Final design of the homes and landscaping has not been completed for the proposed project but they will work on this aspect of the plan as it falls in line with the planning process.
Councilman Kasper expressed concern about the access to the proposed development. Mr. Myers stated that he believed it is directly opposite the second entrance to St. James Square. She is concerned that there is only one entrance with 30 condos. It will add to the congestion of the post office, St. James Square, and the condominiums. She understood that the access road would also be used for the Inn and asked for more information about the access road. No traffic studies have been done as yet.
Mr. Jackson, 1675 Van Antwerp Road, is opposed to the zone change. His basement drains onto the wetland and any filling up of the wetland will fill up his basement with water.
Tom Rigley, 1580 Van Antwerp Road, is opposed to the zone change and he is concerned about the drainage problem. A giant puddle forms whenever there is a heavy rain or snow melt. The storm drain in front of his house often gets completely overwhelmed and a giant puddle forms and has no where to go but into his basement. He does not have a sense of confidence in the developer when they state that they will try and fix the drainage problem. If they are not successful he and his neighbors will be the recipients of the water overflow. He is also concerned about the aesthetics of the condominiums, and the displacement of wildlife in this area as it is a popular crossing path for deer.
Mr. Podhoretz, 679 Van Antwerp Road stated that residents of Van Antwerp Road all receive the drainage where water is coming down the hill into the wetlands. Building on the upper elevation will be more of a detriment by steering the water back down towards Van Antwerp Road. Before Nott Street East was built, a sewer went in and Van Antwerp Road lost a lot of space. There is a well concreted in that is served by a spring that is somewhere in the back of the point where Dr. Prichard and Mr. Wilt’s property run together. This water used to run down on the north side of the lot line, which was a wetland as a result.
Rena Wielt, Van Antwerp Road, stated she is totally opposed to the change in zoning for condominiums.
When no other members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed the public hearing.
TOWN CLERK’S BUSINESS
The minutes of the meeting of June 4, and June 18, 2002 were approved as presented.
PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR
Bruce Reisner, 763 Westmoreland Drive, inquired about the proposed dangerous building law. He was told the current laws couldn’t accomplish everything that should be done for public safety and property maintenance. He asked that the Board take the proposal seriously. There is a big problem in the Town that he feels has been buried for years. He has requested action on this for many years and asked the Board to review Westmoreland Drive from Worchester to Buckingham to help them get a better understanding of what needs to be addressed. There are potential health hazards and asked the Board to call him for details.
Councilwoman Kasper stated that revisions to our ordinances are being considered so that the Town can act in a faster and stronger manner with residents who disregard the health and safety of others. There are about 25 or 30 unsafe or unhealthy properties within the Town. The Town needs greater strength to deal with this growing problem.
The following resolutions were approved with a vote of five ayes, unless otherwise noted.
Resolution 2002-191 takes action to appoint Andrew Thomas to the position of temporary laborer at the Water & Sewer Maintenance Facility, not to exceed 180 days, at a salary of $13.75 per hour.
Resolution 2002-192 authorizes the repair and installation of various equipment for Wells No. 5, 7, and 9.
Resolution 2002-193 allows James Olsen, owner of 2214 Balltown Road, to construct a fence over a portion of a Town easement.
Resolution 2002-194 makes line item budgetary modifications.
Resolution 2002-195 calls for a public hearing September 10, 7 p.m. for public comment on the Town’s proposed Agency Plan for Section 8 Rental Housing Assistance.
Resolution 2002-196 authorizes the Supervisor to retain PowerPlay Technologies at a cost not to exceed $1,20 to determine the electronic system compatibility to the Town'’ security and infrastructure systems for present and future integration.
Resolution 2002-197 authorizes the purchase of Municipal Geographic Management System computer software for the Building Department from Business management Systems, at a total cost of $5,500.
Resolution 2002-198 authorizes Barbara Pidgeon to be promoted to Clerk to the Town Justice, Grade 8, on a permanent basis, at a salary of $30,698 effective July 8; Jennifer Kaczor promoted to Clerk to the Town Justice, Grade 7, on a permanent basis, at a salary of $25,763 retroactive from July 8; and Bethany A. Vena, to the temporary position of Clerk to the Town Justice at a Grade 7 at a salary of $23,514.
Resolution 2002-199 appoints Jared Doyle, to the temporary position of assistant to the building inspector at $18.00 per hour, with reimbursement mileage, without benefits, not to exceed $4,00 or 180 days, effective immediately.
Resolution 2002-200 authorizes the Supervisor to sign a quickclaim deed over a portion of Lot 15 from Traditional Builders in the Avon Crest West Phase II subdivision for the purpose of maintaining the right to build a cul-de-sac in the event that the extension of Clute Crest Drive was not extended to Consaul Road.
Resolution 2002-201 calls for a public hearing August 20 at 7:10 p.m. to consider amendment of the Code, Chapter 75, Article IV Dangerous Buildings.
Resolution 2002-202 appoints David M. Stearn to the position of part-time animal Control/Dog Warden at a salary of $13.998 per hour, without benefits, effective immediately.
Resolution 2002-203 authorizes modification to fee schedule associated with impoundment of vehicles.
Resolution 2002-204 authorizes advertisement for bids for the construction of a restroom facility at the Train Station Park.
Resolution 2002-205 authorizes the purchase of grass seed and fertilizer to be used in the Highway and Parks Departments during 2002.
Resolution 2002-206 authorizes the Supervisor to retain engineering services of Chazen Engineering & Land Surveying Co. to perform a wetland determination, design development and preparation of bid specifications for the construction of a secondary access road to the Community Center at a cost not to exceed $12,50 plus reimbursable expenses.
Resolution 2002-207 employs additional persons in the Recreation Department.
Resolution 2002-208 calls for a public hearing August 20 at 7 p.m. to consider the application of Trinity Baptist Church for a special use permit to allow the operation of a pre-school at the existing church at 2635 Balltown Road.
At this time, with unanimous approval of the Board, the Supervisor called an Executive Session to discuss a matter of litigation.
There being no further business to come before the Town Board, the Supervisor declared the meeting adjourned.
Helen Kopke, Town Clerk