AT A REGULAR MEETING OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TWN OF NISKAYUNA DULY CALLED AND HELD ON THE 20TH DAY OF AUGUST, 2002, THE TOWN OFFICE BUILDING, ONE NISKAYUNA CIRCLE, NISKAYUNA, NEW YORK, THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS WERE PRESENT:
HONORABLE WILLIAM R. CHAPMAN COUNCILMAN
LIZ ORZEL KASPER COUNCILWOMAN
RICHARD A. HOLT COUNCILMAN
DIANE P. O’DONNELL COUNCILWOMAN
LUKE J. SMITH SUPERVISOR
Others present: Barbara Nottke, Deputy Town Clerk; Eric Dickson, Town Attorney; Amy Houlihan, Town Assessor; Frank Gavin, Superintendent of Highways; Darryl Ostrander, Deputy Police Chief; Tony Gentile, Sr. Building Inspector.
Public Hearing No. 1 - A public hearing was held regarding a Special Use Permit for a pre-school at 2635 Balltown Road (Trinity Baptist Church). Councilman Chapman outlined this application for a 20-child capacity pre-school facility to be added to the Trinity Baptist Church. School would be in session from September to May. Parking and an entrance will be provided in the rear of the building.
Lorene Zabin, 2455 Brookshire Drive, felt the location of this facility is dangerous for a five-day a week preschool. Councilman Chapman understood that this facility was currently being used daily and the use was not increasing from two days to five days with this application. Mrs. Zabin felt that their location on Balltown Road created a traffic hazard.
Councilwoman Kasper questioned if the facility’s square footage satisfied the space requirements to house 16 to 20 children. She inquired if the pre-school is meant for only church members or it is open to the public.
When no other members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed the public hearing.
Public Hearing No. 2 – considered modification to the Dangerous Building Law.
Town Attorney Eric Dickson stated that up until now the Town did not have an ordinance that addressed abandoned or distressed buildings. If the Town finds it necessary to take such a structure down, this ordinance provides notice to the owner, the possibility of a hearing if demanded, and removal of the building with the cost posed as a lien by the Town. A homeowner may contest a determination. On occasion homeowners and banks have let buildings go. The County might take these over with tax foreclosures that takes much time. Supervisor Smith stated that the Town is encountering more potential building problems and felt it is important that the Board move forward on this. The Town Engineer, Building Inspectors or a structural engineer can assess
conditions if necessary.
Councilwoman Kasper has taken a tour of the homes with problems. In the past, the Town could not act and she is in favor of enacting this legislation and applauds the Building Department. Supervisor Smith also remarked that property issues are easily the most frustrating issues he has encountered in 2-1/2 years.
Lorene Zabin, 2455 Brookshire Drive, believes that four or five dangerous buildings out of 7,000 residents do not seem to be an overwhelming problem. She hoped that if the ordinance goes through that fines will be collected, and is not convinced that this ordinance will speed up the process. She is concerned that the issue of rodents used to come under the health department and this ordinance places the issue with the Town. She is also concerned that penalties have sometimes been forgiven and feels this needs to be corrected by the Town Court.
Sally Lester, Troy Road, was not aware of how difficult it was for the Town to take action about abandoned buildings.
When no further members of the public wished to be hard, the Supervisor closed the public hearing.
PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR
Lorene Zabin, 2455 Brookshire Drive, stated she is opposed to changing a parcel from an R-1 to an R-3 as this would be spot zoning. It will increase traffic and increase the drainage problem even though there has been a commitment and promise to fix the problem. No entrance or exit is proposed from Van Antwerp Road. The park fee that could be collected will be half what would be collected with single family houses.
Mrs. Zabin also expressed her opposition to a July hire. No ad was placed for the position and the person hired is from Delmar. Supervisor Smith explained that this hire was done on short notice and is part time in the Building Department. Mr. Gentile interviewed the new hire and was satisfied with his qualifications. She felt that the Board should have a practice of finding employees living in Niskayuna or people from the County. Supervisor Smith stated that he has asked department heads to hire the best person and they do the interviewing.
Dr. Prichard, Van Antwerp Road, was told that 12 to 15 single-family homes could be built on the parcel being considered for a zone change from R-1 to R-3.
Sally Lester, Troy Road, inquired about the Town’s current policy of delivering paperwork for cease and desist orders from the Building Department to the Police Department. Attorney Dickson stated that violating a cease and desist order is a separate violation and the resident could be arrested.
Regarding the noise ordinance, violations occur with a sustained noise of 70 decibels and the Building Department enforces this ordinance. Mrs. Lester also noted that she continues to see unlawful double tandem trailers on Troy Road.
Mrs. Lester inquired about dumping at the Hopsin property on Rosendale Road where no permit was issued. The property is now contoured with four terraces. According to Councilwoman Kasper, they allowed dumping at the site because they needed more level land next to their garage. The property owners have assured the Building Department that they would take care of erosion problems, however, no permits have been issued.
Supervisor Smith stated that the Town would not allow illegal dumping. The Town has requirements relative to changing contours of property and we will hold to these requirements. The Building Inspector was concerned about the potential attractive nuisance of a steep slope with jagged concrete rock. It was his plan to have the property owner cover it with dirt to contour it, and make it safer. Residents became more aware of this recently when many trucks were seen dumping at the site in order to close it. Work was stopped when the Town was called and it was left as a shear drop. Supervisor Smith stated that the Town has adjusted a bad situation that has gone for 20 years.
Mrs. Lester requested the Board to send a Sense of the Board Resolution opposing the Glenville Power Plant.
The following resolutions were approved with a vote of five ayes unless otherwise stated.
Resolution 2002-209 calls for a public hearing September 10 at 7 p.m. on a petition for Extension No. 152 to Consolidated Water District No. 1 for Seneca Manor, Section II.
Resolution 2002-210 calls for a public hearing September 10 at 7:05 p.m. on a petition for Sewer Extension No. 108, Sewer District No. 6, for Seneca Manor Section II.
Resolution 2002-211 calls for a public hearing September 10 at 7:05 p.m. on a petition for Park District No. 15, for Seneca Manor.
Resolution 2002-212 retains the services from T&P Lawn & Landscape to clean and clear the properties located at 12 and 26 Central Avenue at a cost of $3,500 and $5,000 respectively, the immediate cost to be paid from the general fund and subsequently assessed and levied upon said premises.
Resolution 2002-213 authorizes the purchase of two 2003 Chevrolet S-10 pickup trucks, for use by the Building Department, from Hoselton Chevrolet, at a total cost not to exceed $12,000 for each vehicle.
Resolution 2002-214 certifies to the New York State Office of Real Property Services that the current homestead and non-homestead base proportions, the current percentage and base percentage for the assessing unit and each portion included in its boundaries, and all alterations made to such current base proportions are made pursuant to the Real Property Tax Law.
Resolution 2002-215 appoints John Donnelly, 4031 Consaul Road, to the position of Custodian of Voting Machines and authorizes attendance at training held July 15 and 16 at a cost of $160.
Resolution 2002-216 appoints Barbara Tardi, 2339 Cayuga Court, Niskayuna, to the position of Information Processing Specialist II in the Planning Department at a Grade 8 on a provisional basis at a salary of $22,612 per year, retroactive to August 5, 2002.
Resolution 2002-217 appoints Lorie Minersagen, 2905 Halsey Drive, Schenectady, to the position of Information Processing Specialist I in the Town Clerk’s office, effective August 21, 2002 on a provisional basis, at a Grade 7, at a salary of $21,363.
Resolution 2002-218 appoints Jennifer Liuzzi, 138 Sand Creek Road, Colonie to the position of temporary clerk in the Assessor’s Office, effective retroactive from August 12, 2002, at $9.00 per hour, not to exceed 180 days, without benefits. This resolution was approved with four ayes, Councilwoman Kasper was absent for the vote.
Resolution 2002-219 appoints William Lawrence to the position of Micro Computer Network Coordinator on a permanent basis, effective immediately. This resolution was approved with four ayes, with Councilman Kasper abstaining from the vote.
Resolution 2002-220 authorizes the purchase of a new 2003 one-ton Chevrolet with dump body from Robert Green Chev-Olds, at a total cost not to exceed $23,000.
Resolution 2002-221 employs additional persons in the Niskayuna Recreation Program.
Resolution 2002-222 authorizes the Supervisor to enter into a 12-month service agreement with Dictaphone Corporation, at a cost of $2,808.40 for the multi-channel digital communications recording system at the Police Department terminating June 3, 2003.
Resolution 2002-223 authorizes Chief Mark Sollohub and Deputy Chief Darryl Ostrander to attend the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police 2002 Annual Training Conference on August 4 through 8, 2002 in West Point, New York at a cost per person of $150 for registration, and $121 per night for lodging.
Resolution 2002-224 takes action to amend the Zoning Map for tax parcel 40.15-12.1 from R-1 to R-3. This resolution was not approved with Councilman Holt and Councilwomen Kasper and O’Donnell voting no.
Councilman Chapman described proposed condominiums as a housing option for older adults who want to stay in Niskayuna. They are close to the post office, library, new pool, businesses along Nott Street, banks, and restaurants. The Planning Board has supported this project as a useful transition in the neighborhood. The Comprehensive Plan indicates that the Town should institute commercial zoning for property bordering Nott Street East.
Councilman Holt disputed that “older adults” would be living in the proposed condominiums and that empty nesters may not be older adults. Councilwoman Kasper did not believe that the demographics of the residents were relevant to the issue. The Supervisor felt that there is an issue relative to traffic and it is not inappropriate to speculate that the condos are marketed to groups that are young professionals, empty nesters, and seniors.
Councilman Chapman agreed that the neighborhood will be disturbed during construction with noise and dust. Other ideas for the property would have created more noise and traffic than this proposal and the property has been available for single-family homes for some time with no development happening. He felt that being close to facilities is a draw for the condos. Another positive aspect of the plan is that Reggie Scott’s Inn and this project share the same Engineering firm to tackle the drainage issues in a cohesive manner.
Councilwoman Kasper stated that if the Board keeps the present zoning residents will not have to worry about traffic and added shops. She is against this proposal because 1) the parkland fee to the Town will be half what it would be for single-family homes; 2) the entrance and exit will be shared with the proposed Inn; 3) the composition of the residents is unknown which could mean more cars, more children, etc.; and 4) last she is concerned about the drainage problem. The best solution is to create a drainage district for this parcel and the Inn parcel. She felt that Nott Street was supposed to be a mixture with a library, Town Hall, townhouses, upscale boutiques, post office, and a professional office building. If we leave the zoning the land will stay as it is
until it is purchased for single family houses. The Board does not have to speed up the process to build up Nott Street East. She asked that if this resolution passes that the Planning Board propose a drainage district.
Councilman Holt stated that he has concerns with the project and does not want to alter the future of this important piece of land and he did not know the impact on the land of the proposed changes down the road. He felt that “hodgepodge” could be the catchword for what was once a very lofty scheme with Nott Street East. The drainage is problematic and he has not heard any arguments that this will be solved. A higher density property is going to alter this area beyond our improving it.
Councilman Chapman stated that the drainage would be looked at by an outside firm and our Superintendent of Water & Sewer. It is not a good situation now and the Planning Board knows they have to come up with a drainage plan. No CO’s will be issued without a satisfactory plan.
Councilwoman O’Donnell is concerned that we know there is a problem with the drainage now. They have heard that Mr. Myers and Mr. Scott will be responsible to solve the drainage problem. Why doesn’t the Town fix the problem now before more development to avoid the developers pointing fingers at one another in the future.
Supervisor Smith remarked that the Town cannot work on private property to fix the drainage. He does not know what was approved when St. James Square was proposed. The area has mixed uses with townhouses, library, Town Hall, shopping center, and an apartment complex with high density abutting this property and this type of housing is in demand. Approving this plan will give the Town $4-5 million in increased taxable valuation and is a good reason to approve this project. The idea of 15 single family homes at this site is unrealistic given the other uses nearby and there is a danger at some point that the zoning will be changed to commercial use which will have a greater impact on his own neighborhood nearby plus Van Antwerp Road residents. He believes this is a very good use of this
property. Mr. Myers is a reputable builder and we have a responsibility to do reasonable development that increases the tax base in the Town. $4-5 million is a nice increase in taxable valuation with low impact. He will vote yes and his hope is that the drainage problem will be fixed. It has been emphasized to both of the developers that they will be responsible to not just visit further problems in the drainage but will fix the existing drainage problem. The Board will have to hold the developers accountable. This area could be looked at now as a “hodgepodge.” The idea of having this type of housing that will create customers for the strip mall across the street and will hopefully encourage stores to grow and develop.
There being no further business to come before the Board, the Supervisor adjourned the meeting.
Barbara Nottke, Deputy Town Clerk