AT A REGULAR MEETING OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF NISKAYUNA DULY CALLED AND HELD ON THE 23RD OF APRIL, 2002, AT THE NISKAYUNA TOWN OFFICE BUILDING, ONE NISKAYUNA CIRCLE, IN SAID TOWN THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS WERE PRESENT:
HONORABLE LIZ ORZEL KASPER COUNCILWOMAN
WILLIAM CHAPMAN COUNCILMAN
RICHARD A. HOLT COUNCILMAN
DIANE P. O’DONNELL COUNCILWOMAN
LUKE J. SMITH SUPERVISOR
Public Hearing No. 1 – Adoption of a Sidewalk Ordinance.
Supervisor Smith explained that this ordinance is an outgrowth of the work done on the sidewalk on Troy, Cornelius, Ray and Keyes Avenue. In the planning stages it was determined that the Town would be responsible for the repairs of these sidewalks but subsequent to completion of the repairs responsibility for the maintenance and cleaning of the sidewalks back to the residents. This ordinance applies to all sidewalks in the Town’s right of way, not Troy Road or County roads.
Councilman Chapman supports pedestrian walkways and agrees we should have an ordinance specifying construction and repair standards. He believes it is important to have snow removal be the responsibility of the homeowners.
Councilwoman Kasper believes the sidewalks are an integral part of the Town but is opposed to having homeowners maintain them. We have sidewalks that we have had to negotiate for the Town through the County and the State to get them on Balltown, Troy and Van Antwerp Road that are maintained by our highway crew. Palmer Avenue is a direct route to Van Antwerp School and the Ray Street area is a direct walk to Hillside School. She sees no reason why the Town cannot maintain the sidewalks on Palmer and Ray Street. They are in the Town’s right of way and it would mean more consistent removal of snow. Since we have two schools that are walking schools, they should be plowed by the Town. Homeowners on these roads are often under a hardship.
Often they are elderly and the snowplows have put a lot of snow on the sidewalks, which make them very difficult to clean.
Councilman Chapman agreed it seems somewhat unfair. As we get more sidewalks built in the Town it will become a hardship on the Town to have to do removal on all the sidewalks. The incentive to get sidewalks from the County is that the Town agreed to maintain them. This provides safety for residents who walk on County and State roads. He is not sure we can afford to remove the snow from all sidewalks in Town.
When no members of the public wished to speak, Supervisor Smith closed the public hearing.
Public Hearing No. 2 – Vehicle & Traffic Code – consider extending No Parking to Regent Street along Rankin.
When no members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed the public hearing.
Public Hearing No. 3 – Extends the six-month moratorium for adult use businesses.
Councilman Chapman explained that the Town does not have any regulation as to where adult uses can be located. They can be placed in any area zoned for commercial activity. Our neighboring communities have all taken steps to regulate adult businesses and this Board has decided that it would be sensible to do this. A moratorium was put in place last October to give the Board an opportunity to study the issue. Town’s must study secondary impacts of adult uses and the Town commissioned Robert Penna who has performed this study. The Town needs more time to review his study, and hear from the Planning Board, and come with a proposal we can put before the public. The measures stops the issuance of building permits for review of applications for any
project which involves adult use businesses.
XXXXXXXXX, Manager of Hillcrest Village Apartments, 1515 Hillside Avenue, (which is one of the properties located toward one of the possible sites.) They would like to extend the moratorium. She presented a letter from the owner of the company and a petition from the residents.
XXXXXXXXX, is in favor of the extension to the moratorium and additional restrictions of adult use. He encouraged the Board to look at the Paduka Kentucky ordinances, which has been challenged in the courts and has successfully passed. Information can be found through the National Coalition for the Protection of Woman and Children (www. nationalcoalition.org). He suggested that the Board check the Paduka website that includes several cited court cases and also several studies that they have done and the adverse secondary effects that are caused by such sites. A court case Miller versus California also pertains to this issue.
XXXXXXXXXXX, spoke in favor of extending the moratorium. With three major apartment complexes in one area, there is a high concentration of children. She described the area, how it is utilized by children, and connections to the JCC, church on Balltown Road, and the Town pool. She has lived near an adult bookstore and believes it is better to put these in a commercial, public area not in a secluded area.
Public Hearing No. 4 – uses reserve funds for the construction of a dehydration facility.
Supervisor Smith pointed out that the Town had been discussing and investigating the addition of a dehydration facility to our Wastewater Treatment Plant that will reduce the volume of sludge by drying and will save the Town a considerable amount of money. Environmentally it is a sound idea. The Town would like to appropriate reserve funds for this project. Our most recent contract included an increase of almost 45% in sludge disposal cost.
XXXXXXXXXXX, expressed her approval for the project. In the long run it will save the Town money.
PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR
Mr. Cherry, NYS DOT, spoke to the Board about the proposed Rexford Bridge expansion. The project has limits of Glenridge Road on the north and proceeds to River Road on the south. It has been a transportation concern for 25 years and started in the early 1980’s. They recognize that traffic continues to increase and grow and they recognize that the bridge is a major entrance to the Town of Niskayuna and Clifton Park. They have looked at 2-1/2 miles of Route 146.
They would like to be able to address the corridor capacity and the level of service deficiencies. Deficiencies are the delays or inconveniences that motorists incur as they sit for a traffic light or proceeding in a low chain of vehicles going down the corridor. They also wish to look at the safety road geometrics. This is the physical condition of the roadway such as shoulder widths, ditches, curving, etc. Two intersections have been pinpointed regarding safety and are called a Priority Investigation Location (PIL) which is at the Aqueduct Road intersection and also a Safety Deficient Location (SDL) at the Riverview Road intersection. They wish to minimize accidents at these two intersections.
The bridge was built in the mid 1960’s and there are some structural deficiencies. As they address corridor improvements they would look to either replace or modify the bridge. From preliminary investigations, the current type of bridge is not conducive for expansion for adding additional lanes. They would be looking at replacing the existing bridge and they are looking at a number of alternative designs. If, through the conclusion of the enginering reports and evaluations it is determined that we need a four or five lane structure, the current structure is not the type that they are able to add an additional two lanes to create a four lane facility. They have considered a second structure built to the west providing two additional lanes. Because of the close proximity
of the intersections this is not an appropriate treatment as far as their engineering standards go so they would be replacing the bridge.
The state has a continual bridge evaluation program where crews evaluate the structural elements of bridges every two years. Structural deficiencies means they need to treat the aspects that are starting to show signs of wear and tear. They have general aspects that are occurring as part of mother nature. This could be rain and salts from de-icing and snow removal operations. There are elements that are exhibiting rust and sections of loss on some of the members but they are not the primary support members of the bridge. They will not be posting nor limiting the weight of vehicles that use the bridge and they will not meter traffic from one side to the other to minimize the load on the bridge. He would have no problem having his family drive over the bridge.
They recognize they have a congestion problem along the corridor. They do not want to create an hourglass and increase the number of lanes on both sides of the bridge but lead traffic to a bridge where they have to funnel down. Then traffic will either back up the hill towards Schenectady International or back up towards Stewart’s waiting to come down the hill from Rexford. The consultants working on the project suggest two lanes in each direction with a center turn lane, especially at the major intersections of development such as Environment One or Schenectady International. They recognize that traffic will double in the next twenty years. A five-lane facility would have a substantial effect as they reevaluated the corridor trying to minimize the undesirable effects. In doing so, they
end up with an hourglass configuration where they have some areas with a five-lane facility necking down to a three-lane facility and then opening back up. This developed in an effort to minimize the effects on abutting properties. These evaluations were done cognizant of significant development associated with the GEIS work in the northwest portion of the Town. Subsequent to those evaluations, the department is aware of how their capital projects effect people above and behind meeting their transportation goals and solutions has been heightened. It is recognized that it is desirous to have their projects integrate well with the community meeting more than just transportation needs and moving the people. The current phrase in their business, and that they have incorporated to their every day lives at DOT, is instituting and incorporating “context sensitive solutions.” In doing so their projects mix well and fit well with the needs of the
businesses and residents and they are to mesh well with the visions of the municipality and the community. They need interaction with the public and municipalities involvement in trying to integrate the potentials of growth associated with general growth of the area potential land use changes so that everything works as best as it can.
He left copies of accomplishments of the DOT that convey numerous examples of how the department provided a safe and durable improvement and helped improve the quality of life in the developed and natural community surrounding their highway projects. There are countless visual enhancements that are documented. They also had examples of entry treatments to communities, pedestrian and bicycle accommodations and how to develop a boulevard and parkway-type appearance. This has a number of positive effects such as visual that can be conductive to help control speed of traffic, and can work well with land use growth and development at the same time.
A lot of traffic comes into G. E. downtown from Glenridge Road. Maple Avenue and Freedom’s Bridge Road that causes traffic at the bridge. The department is working on a project for addressing Glenridge Road from the intersection of Blue Barns heading towards Route 50. There had been an evaluation as to the various links in this area. Glenridge Road, Route 146, Aqueduct Road, were all evaluated and steps were taken to prioritize what was to be done first. This section of Route 146 took a greater step forward than the Glenridge Road project which is why we are further advanced on Route 146 than Glenridge Road.
DOT recognizes what they believe are the problems and they need to get feedback from the Board and the public. In the fall they will have a general public information. Tonight is an overview to let the Board know that they are working on this and will be looking forward to the Town’s feedback. If they proceed as they are today they are hopeful to have their initial construction contract in 2005 providing existing funding remains in place.
Because there is a substantial amount of involvement with the Town of Niskayuna and Clifton Park involving planning and land use they would like to try and keep one central portion between the two communities (Aqueduct Road and Riverview Road) and address this portion of the corridor first. This will be addressing the safety issues at the two intersections and they will incorporate a new structure to help facilitate movement along the corridor. This area has a limited number of alternatives of what they can do and where they can go. They are restricted in this area due to the historic remains and alignment and abutting neighborhoods.
Regarding funding, Supervisor Smith stated that at some point a decision has to be made and held that the money will be there. New York State will always have road projects so someone has to make a decision that this project is a go in 2005. We are now discussing economic development in the northwest corner that is greatly contingent upon what happens with Balltown Road. We cannot talk about creating a tech park and office building if Balltown Road is not developed. If the money is not there it will be because a political decision was made to shift the money to another town. The money is there and the question is when is the decision made and cast in stone that this will happen. The Supervisor lacks motivation to consider seriously economic development in the northwest
corner because of the traffic on Balltown Road. Supervisor Smith requested that DOT make the decision and state that this project will be done in 2005. He feels this project shifts depending on political winds so we cannot plan economic development in this part of Town. We need a decision that this is going to happen in 2005.
Councilman Kasper stated that the Town is desensitized. There is a problem and there is a need and no matter how many public forums they have (and there have been many) everyone wonders if we are ever going to do this project. The sensitivity of the neighborhood is important but we all know what the problems are. Can we go on? Having another public hearing without an answer is wasting time. The bridge is old, the traffic is terrible, and the houses sit right on the road.
When the bridge is rebuilt, they recognize they need to move people and goods through this corridor and have a number of ways to help maintain traffic. More than likely they may be able to build a bridge, two lanes in width, west of the existing bridge (on the side of Smith’s garage). You then shift the traffic onto the new two-lane structure, remove the existing structure built in 1964, and expand two lands east on the newly built section of the bridge. It is built in stages. They believe when they hit the first segment between Aqueduct Road and Riverview Road this will address a significant portion of the congestion and delays that occur. It will be a sign to the users of the bridge that something is being done to address the needs of both communities.
Councilman Chapman noted that Capital District Transportation projected traffic to increase more than double the current rate in the northwest corner. If we went ahead with the Tech Park we would have five times the traffic. Is DOT looking at the same numbers as CDT? DOT used the average annual daily traffic numbers where CDT used peak hour volumes. He asked DOT if there were things that could be done to help ease traffic until the bridge is expanded. He also requested that safety be considered with the bike path in this area.
Dick Carlson, NYS DOT, emphasized that they envision that this will be a big project with a total cost about $20-25 million for construction costs which is a big chunk of their region’s program, which is $90-95 million. Phasing the project will take time in discussions in both Niskayuna and Clifton Park to figure out what the Towns want to do. The part of the project that will change the least is the bridge that is why they want this to be Phase I of the overall corridor project. All other discussions will be played out in parallel so they do not hold up the bridge. As far as funding, he reviews the budget and what projects will be accomplished. He has to be aware of what is happening both in Albany and in Washington. At the state and federal level there is a lot
of uncertainty as far as funding. The short-term impact plans that were too ambitious will have to keep this in mind. They will take care of first things first in the corridor and will address the most urgent concern which is the bridge.
As far as the Department’s commitment, it has been on the program since mid 1990’s and they did not get started as early as they would have liked because of budgetary concerns. Now that this is underway they want to get construction underway in a reasonable amount of time. They wish to get through the project for at least the bridge part three years from now. They hope to start construction in 2005. The Board will see the first public meetings on this project later this fall or early winter. At that time they will bring maps of the concept to bring in enough level of detail so that the people most directly affected will be able to have their specific questions answered. As far as he is concerned, they continue to make room for this project in their program and expect they
will be continuing to make room.
Supervisor Smith stated he hoped approval of this project would not be subject to the political wind shifting and in 2005 the money is there but it is being used in other counties. It is difficult for our Town to make plans. We have had residents on hold for several years for getting sewer service because there is no sense in doing construction and digging up the roadway to put the pipe in if this project is coming. They have been waiting since 1988. We would like to start to be able to make decisions about the sewer project and the northwest corner and decide where we are going. He hopes 2005 is a fairly hard and fast plan.
Mr. Carlson went on to comment that DOT is a member of the CDTC which is the group that figures out where the funds are going to go to transportation projects in the capital district. Every other year they update the five-year program. The last update in 2001, the point was made that they have to have the Rexford Bridge within the five-year program. He fully expects the same type of sentiment this next time they meet this fall. Everybody recognizes the importance of the corridor not just the two Towns on either side of the river but what it means to the transportation system in the Capital District.
The next step is to continue design work. Open house and public information meetings will be set in the Fall where the general public can view alternatives and maps and be able to visualize the project. The booklets show Region 1 examples that they have accomplished which may not have been the sole purpose of the project in the first place but they were able to incorporate things in the community while they were out there. A project like this affords this kind of opportunity and by its scale, a big opportunity. In their early planning they have been struck by the fact that in crossing the river provides a gateway to the Town of Niskayuna and Clifton Park. With so much sensitivity, this is an opportunity they would not like to pass up and want to work with both Towns to
capitalize on this.
PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR
XXXXXXXXXXXXX , thanked the members of DOT for attending the meeting and thanked Councilwoman Kasper for asking when we would see a schedule and get things going. This project has an impact on many projects in this Town. Since we are approaching full build-out it is important that the northwest corridor be resolved. We need to keep on DOT and get a hard schedule from them.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX , also appreciates DOT’s presence and their comments. She is pleased to hear their sensitive solutions. The existing neighborhood deserves protection and she trusts the Town will look out for that neighborhood as well.
XXXXXXXXXXXXXXX, believed that there was no one that wants to see an adult bookstore in our Town. There are many kids in the Hillside Avenue area and the Town is considering building a road to the community center. The community center has seniors and kids programs. We do not need this in the Hillside Avenue neighborhood. She asked how much weight petitions would hold and agreed to get signatures if it would make a difference.
Supervisor Smith reported that we are told by the courts that the Town cannot zone these out of the Town. We can zone to minimize the secondary impacts, but we can’t say they cannot do this type of business in our Town. If we do, we will be sued and we will lose. We have gone ahead on this because other Towns have done these studies and are doing zoning that put as many restrictions as they can that are acceptable to the courts. We do not have any non-residential areas in the Town. No decision has been made on this. We are reviewing our report and will have a public hearing on the zoning and a decision will be made. We all agree that there is no one in this room who wants these. We can do zoning that makes certain restrictions. Because other communities have zoned for these, we are very vulnerable at this point. It would be foolish of us to not move forward and not come up with some plan to address this. A public hearing will be held after the Board has studied the
Each of the following resolutions was approved by a vote of five ayes, unless otherwise noted.
Resolution 2002-127 appoints Daniel R. Galli to the position of Water Plant Operator on a provisional basis, at a salary of $15.97 per hour, effective retroactive to February 11, 2002.
Resolution 2002-128 allows the construction of a fence over a portion of a Town easement for Douglas and Jennifer R. Brown, 32 Victoria Court.
Resolution 2002-129 authorizes the Supervisor to enter into a contract with Empire State Fireworks to provide a fireworks display at Niska-Day, at a cost of $5,000.
Resolution 2002-130 authorizes the Supervisor to renew a two-year agreement with national Employee Assistance Services, at a cost of $5,730.
Resolution 2002-131 authorizes the Luke J. Smith and Paul Sebesta to attend the 2002 Annual Town Finance & Management School on May 16-17 in Saratoga at a cost of $160 each, and authorizes William Lawrence to attend the Network Defense & Countermeasures training course at a cost of $900.
Resolution 2002-132 employs additional persons in the Recreation Program as listed.
Resolution 2002-133 accepts a proposal to conduct Phase 1B and Phase 1A professional archaeological services at the construction site for the restroom facility at Lyons Park Train Station at a cost of $2,000.
Resolution 2002-134 calls for a public hearing on May 7 at 7 p.m. to consider the amendment of the Town’s Official Map to eliminate Powell Road a paper street.
Resolution 2002-135 calls for a public hearing on May 7 at 7:05 p.m. to consider the application of St. Helen’s Church to allow the construction of a 1,850 square foot addition to the school at 1801 Union Street.
Resolution 2002-136 calls for a public hearing May 7 at 7:10 p.m. to consider an application for a Special Use Permit to allow the construction of an 8,847 square foot addition for 2635 Balltown Road, Trinity Baptist Church.
Resolution 2002-137 calls for a public hearing May 7 at 7:15 p.m. to consider the application of Niskayuna Professional Development to allow the construction of a 60,000 square foot medical and nonmedical professional office building at 3120 Troy Road.
Resolution 2002-138 calls for a public hearing May 7 at 7:20 p.m. to consider the application of Michael Valentine for a Special Use Permit for an average density development to be known as Catherine’s Woods Subdivision, Phase 2.
Helen Kopke, Town Clerk