AT A REGULAR MEETING OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF NISKAYUNA DULY CALLED AND HELD ON THE 22ND DAY OF JULY, 2003, AT THE NISKAYUNA TOWN OFFICE BUILDING, ONE NISKAYUNA CIRCLE, NISKAYUNA, NEW YORK, THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS WERE:
LIZ ORZEL KASPER, COUNCILWOMAN
WILLIAM R. CHAPMAN, COUNCILMAN
RICHARD A. HOLT, COUNCILMAN
DIANE P. O’DONNELL, COUNCILWOMAN
LUKE J. SMITH, SUPERVISOR
Others present: Helen Kopke, Town Clerk; Eric Dickson, Town Attorney; Kathy Matern, Town Planner; Darryl Ostrander, Deputy Police Chief; Amy Houlihan, Assessor; Paul Sebesta, Comptroller.
Public Hearing No. 1 – Considers an application for an Industrial Access Program Grant for $375,000 for Hillside Commerce Park.
This application under consideration establishes that the Town would guarantee repayment of a loan for 1,600 feet of road construction in the amount of $150,000 by L & L Manufacturing, a boiler plant manufacturer who is moving to Hillside Commerce Park. The developer has secured $375,000 in grant funds, 40% of which the developer must repay for a total of $150,000. The Town is required to join this project as a guarantor as an acknowledgement of participation in the IAP Program. The $150,000 will be repaid over a 5-year period interest free.
Supervisor Smith noted that he and the Town Attorney would endeavor to limit the Town’s liability by making sure adequate security and assurances are demonstrated. The assurances and securities will be shared with the Board and if the Board is not satisfied the Supervisor will not be authorized to execute the documents. The Board will be updated when Mr. Dickson completes his work.
Because Metroplex has more experience administering similar projects with an exceptional amount of paperwork, grant funds will pass from the Town to Metroplex who will administer the funds to the developer as the money is spent.
Mr. Bill Sweet reported that the road cost will be about $675,000 and is one small piece of the total cost of the project. The Schenectady County Legislature is contributing $150,000, and well over $200,000 is coming from the developers as their equity contribution. This is a partnering effort not only to attract L & L Manufacturing to get the 1,600 feet of road construction that they need, but it will help open another 25 acres that will be available to other tenants. The developer is actually responsible for $350,000 or a little better than 50% of the project costs. They plan to start construction and need to have the road paved by the end of October per the Town requirement.
The road will have full infrastructure services such as water, sewer, gas, and electric. Part of their site plan approval involves Phase 2, which is a connection to the already mapped and master-planned connector road from Balltown to Aqueduct. Their road is designed to intersect with that bisector road that ultimately could go down to Aqueduct during a later phase. Phase 3 takes them to the other side of the bisecting road and would open up another 20 acres.
Lucy Comly, 1555 Dean Street, asked about the history of L & L Manufacturing Company.
Mr. Sweet described L & L Manufacturing as a new company created as a subsidiary of Unilux Boiler from Canada. Their projected employment in New York will exceed 100 at initial start up with growth exceeding 225 employees. The incentive program offered them was coordinated through the Governor’s office and NYS Economic Development. They will own the building.
Lorene Zabin, 2455 Brookshire Drive, received clarification that the road is located on the other side of the Army Reserve on Hillside Avenue. It will not intersect the areas where homes or apartments are located and will be a dead end for now. Vehicles use will be workers and trucks delivering parts and hauling the boilers out. This has been reviewed and approved by the Planning Board and Conservation Advisory.
Mr. Sweet indicated that the $350,000 Small Cities Grant goes directly to L & L for machinery and equipment as part of their incentive package. The building will cost over $3 million and the company is planning to invest another $3 million in equipment and capital investment in the project. They will be very well invested in the project and already have a customer base in the northeast. They selected this site based on a five-state selection process and their choice was taken very seriously. They are committed to the long term.
Sally Lester, 2451 Troy Road, inquired about the type of trucks that will entering the L & L facility.
At this time, when no members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed the public hearing.
Public Hearing No. 2 – Considers an application for a Special Use Permit for 2125 River Road to ADD Development & Management to allow construction of an 81,700SF medical office building.
Reno Crisafulli, ADD Development & Management, Latham, described a proposed medical arts building located at 2125 River Road, just east of the River Road and Balltown intersection. The total site area is 9.34 acres zoned R-P. The proposed structure is an 81,700 SF, 2 story, class A medical building. The building area comprises 10% of the land area of the site; paved areas will be 50%, and green area 38%. Proposed parking is 425 spaces, with required spaces numbering 545 (with a waiver of 22% of the parking will be requested). The area can also be used for overflow parking for the adjacent school functions on weekends or evenings, along with soccer facility.
Water will be connected to a 12” water main on River Road and will demand approximately 3,000 gallons per day. The sewer will be gravity feed to the municipal system on either Zenner Road or River Road (depending on engineering studies). Storm water will be detained on site in the front area, and will be released at the same or lesser rate than it is currently leaving the site via the storm water detention system. Site lighting will be accomplished with sharp cut-offs in the parking lot area and there will also be some up-lights and landscape lights around the exterior of the building to illuminate the building itself. The building will have very little impact on the neighborhood itself with no external activities and all mechanicals will be housed within the
footprint of the building on rooftops.
Ingress and egress will be accomplished via River Road as the main entrance with two access points on Zenner Road. There will be some minor line stripping on River Road to accommodate a left turn into CareNet Medical and the proposed medical building. This can be accomplished with the existing road width. A connecting drive between Dr. Cheon’s building and this facility has been proposed to help alleviate some of the traffic concerns in this area. The project has no wetlands on the NYS DEC mapping or Army Corp mapping but there is a small area that will remain undisturbed in the front of the building adjacent to Dr. Cheon’s parcel.
The building will comprise 13-16 suites of various sizes with 70 to 80 total employees, including physicians with hours of operation between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. Monday through Friday with peak patient appointments between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. They hope to have primary groups, pediatric, geriatrics, oncology, in-house pharmacy, physical therapy, orthopedics, labs, imaging, and many others. This is an identical model to a medical building in Saratoga Springs. The majority of the tenants will come from existing practices in the Niskayuna area that have found their current space does not meet their modern needs, requirements of insurance providers, patient confidentiality standards, and ADA compliance. The ability for a physician to refer a patient to an adjacent suite, versus to
another building, will substantially save on patient trips, not to speak of time and safety. The use of the parcel as a medical office building versus a general office building will substantially improve the impact on traffic An office building would have a large influx coming in or leaving the building during typical peak hours between 7 and 8 and 4 and 5.
Councilwoman Kasper questioned moving Niskayuna doctors from one location to another leaving vacancies and questioned an in-house pharmacy. Mr. Criscefulli described the pharmacy being utilized only by the patients that are in the building not from patients outside. Kathy Matern, Town Planner, remarked that our zoning would not permit a pharmacy and would require a use variance.
Councilwoman O’Donnell questioned 80 employees for 16 suites. There are 60-70 employees in Saratoga with 63,000SF.
Engineering is currently being performed regarding drainage. The soccer property is lower than the proposed land, and water will be diverted to a 2-acre detention pond on River Road away from the soccer fields. Roof drains and catch basins will be installed throughout the parking lot. The fire station is also a few feet lower than the proposed land. Their experience in medical use shows that about 50% of the proposed parking is not needed.
Dennis O’Malley, Transportation Concepts, discussed the traffic at Balltown and River Road. This is a congested corridor and citizens are fully aware of the traffic issues. Their traffic evaluation is based on square footage of the building, not on the number of employees. Their evaluation is drawn from documentation from national statistics for medical office buildings and the Zenner building. They will have the entrance as far away from the intersection as possible and will avoid multiple driveways. The medical office will not have the same peak hours as Knolls Lab. The medical building traffic will be more distributed throughout the day.
For safety purposes, they have made a recommendation for a left-hand turn lane so traffic for this site is not inhibiting any traffic into Knolls and are out of the traffic stream. Site distances are critical for the driveway. Looking to the right is not a problem, however, looking to the left there is a horizontal and vertical curve of the road. There is a grove of trees on the property line and they have recommended that they establish a site distance triangle so vehicles stopped at the driveway will be able to adequately see traffic proceeding towards the intersection. He discussed the peaks of each area such as KAPL and Craig School. Morning traffic is better due to two lanes serve entering KAPL.
Lorene Zabin, 2455 Brookshire Drive, was not in favor of this special use permit. She felt the Town would be creating a vacancy in other medical arts buildings. She thinks the traffic is terrible and that the Zenner building can be gridlocked. River Road hinges on residential, condominiums, and schools and this is an oversized building for the area. She feels an in-house pharmacy is a retail use and hopes this is not approved.
Sally Lester, 2451 Troy Road, was assured that the Planning Board and Environmental Council recommended this project. She feels this project will exacerbate the traffic problems on Balltown Road.
Janet Hollocher, 1460 Keys Avenue, felt that the Town has the responsibility to make it possible to be able to walk across the intersection of Balltown and River Road. Employees may need to cross Balltown or River Road and at present is very dangerous.
John VanDenburgh, 679 Acorn Drive, approves of this project. He feels that the traffic issue is completely separate from approving this project that will be beneficial to the community and also have a positive impact on our taxes. He thinks it is a mistake to try to comment on traffic that exists regardless of this project.
Leslie Gold, 1919 Pawtucket Avenue, has concerns that continue to exist on this project. The traffic study is better than she expected and recognized problems, but was not mitigated as much as she would like. The distance between the ingress to this site and the driveway to Craig School has not been discussed and she sees as a problem area. It appears to be about 171 feet. She is concerned that if this project goes through, that Craig School will become a cut-through and she is opposed to this project.
Lil Stacey, 2253 Niskayuna Drive, is concerned about additional traffic on Niskayuna Drive. Many employees to this area use it as a shortcut. She also feels we will be duplicating services if this project goes through.
Regarding patient’s bus use, Mr. Crisafulli stated that are few bus users at their other medical arts building. For drivers, there will be a small area for people who wish to make a left turn onto River Road, and space for people wanting to make a right turn. Hours of operation will be 7 to 7 with support staff arriving at 7 a.m. Doors will be locked at 7 pm with special access after that. They would like to work with the local hospitals and would like to approach Ellis. St. Clare’s and Bellevue. Councilwoman Kasper expressed concern that these facilities are taking patients away from the hospitals. Hospitals are dying because these services are no longer offered in house.
The benefit of this facility is that local physicians who need more state-of-the-art medical facilities will be able to have them. They will become ADA compliant, insurance compliant, and the suites are more efficient.
Supervisor Smith felt there was an implication that if the community does not move forward that we may lose the medical practices that are in Town, and is concerned that we could gain a new building but would create vacancies in other buildings. As a Town Board they must be concerned for the hospitals and doctors that are already here. The population is getting older and the need for more medical space is growing. Physician’s offices on Union Street will probably be turned back into homes or apartments. The question arose that if the building isn’t approved will the Union Street doctor’s offices be vacant anyway and our residents will be disadvantaged medically if their buildings aren’t upgraded? Insurance companies are asking physicians to update their facilities.
Mark Paquin, Principal, stated that the implication for the local hospitals is that they are searching for a revenue stream. Local hospitals are removing certain specific services out of the hospitals and converting space into other uses that will give space a more consistent revenue stream. During these transitions, physicians who lose their facilities have to find space outside and find their own independent space. Physicians must decide if they are in a better financial situation to remain independent or to align themselves with larger more regional groups that have economic merits such as back office support, billing, administration, etc. These physicians may maintain an office locally, but have affiliated themselves with a larger practice based elsewhere.
Many large practices are affiliated with hospitals in Albany where referrals for a medical procedure (that feeds the operating room) serve the hospital in Albany.
Supervisor Smith felt there may be other larger issues that the Board does not want to miss and asked where they should go to get that information. Mr. Paquin suggested that the CEO’s of the local hospitals would “sit on the fence” on this issue because of the uncertainty of who the future tenants are and, until they know, they would have reservations. It is a fact that they need to convert current square footage in their hospitals to different uses.
In their Saratoga Springs facility (filled with all Saratoga physicians) they mandated that every suite be open a minimum of four days per week. If a physician’s specialty is removed from the hospital, they have to make a decision to form an independent practice and hire an administrator and biller; or join a large practice in Albany. The large practice may set them up in a facility open one or two days per week, then bring the physician back into Albany to see patients in Albany or use an Albany hospital. Doctors still housed in less modern facilities are feeling the economic pressures from the insurance companies, patients, and competitive groups. Albany Med seeks more patients for their facilities. They met with the CEO of Saratoga Hospital and offered them to
put their pharmacy and lab in because they knew it was an economic support for them and a low cost operation. They also committed that they would market exclusively for a period of time only to Saratoga physicians. The Niskayuna Town Board must reconcile if local physicians who are being converted out of antiquated facilities who can’t support the current needs of medicine as dictated by the market, patient, insurance companies, what is going to happen to these facilities?
The demand load in Niskayuna is similar to that of Saratoga where physicians used a lot of converted homes. He has not formally worked with St. Claire’s or Ellis Hospital because the concept is so new to the process conducted by Niskayuna. He stated that to be a preferred provider today, some insurance companies will look at the quality of care that is good for their insured. They will not do business with physicians who cannot provide various services, and new technology changes every three years.
Lil Stacey, Niskayuna Drive, stated she volunteers with low-income patients who do not always have transportation. She is concerned that low-income persons who used to visit physicians on Union Street’s bus line will not have these physicians at a convenient location.
Dr. Arnold Ritterband, Northumberland Drive, owns a medical office at 2121 River Road. He announced that a free medical clinic would open on November 7 at Bethesda House in Schenectady. 50-75 local physicians will provide free medical care for the uninsured and under-insured. Drugs will be provided and the local hospitals will provide free laboratory work. His first practice was in a converted home on Union Street, then River Road. This site became too small for the five members in his practice and now they are talking about moving into this new facility if approved. Medical practice has changed from individuals to large groups. This will not change and why space such as proposed is needed.
Leslie Gold, 1919 Pawtucket Avenue, stated that NYS DOT requires that traffic be studied for projects such as proposed.
Lorene Zabin, 2455 Brookshire Drive, asked if there were any physicians currently committed to the new building.
At this time, when no other members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed the public hearing.
Public Hearing No. 3 – Considers amendment to the Zoning Ordinance to add Neighborhood Mixed Use Buildings to the CN Neighborhood Commercial Zoning District).
Councilman Chapman pointed out the C-N zones in Town. This is a concept that is promoted by “livable cities” that encourages mixed use. It was pointed out that current shopping areas or strip malls would not be able to add second floor apartments with this amendment.
Janet Hollocher, 1460 Keyes Avenue, is in favor of the idea of mixed use in a C-N zone. The idea keeps residents in neighborhoods at all hours of the day. It avoids vacant buildings and creates a lively environment. It is convenient for tenants and helps offer a wider variety of types of housing in our community. It also creates another revenue source and helps stores stay in business. It helps make small buildings more usable and she felt it would help to make non-conforming uses valuable for residents.
Lorene Zabin, 2455 Brookshire Drive, is in favor of this amendment except for her concern for who the tenants will be and noted problems in Schenectady with college student tenants.
When no other members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed the public hearing.
PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR
Kevin Walsh, 2843 Whitmeyer Drive, asked the Town Board to evaluate what is needed for the Town’s Water & Sewer Garage needed repairs. He asked that they look at all options such as repair, relocation on the existing site, more than one building at multiple locations, etc. Supervisor Smith is looking at the entire site as a potential opportunity to enhance the parks but they have not looked behind that. The Transfer Station will also be included in the evaluation. Mr. Walsh liked the Transfer Station location because it is on a county road, has easy access without going through any neighborhoods, and satisfies a lot of issues without impacting any neighborhood.
Sally Lester, 2451 Troy Road, asked about the Police budget and the need to purchase an additional police vehicle. She is concerned that the Police Department is provided with everything that they need to take care of security issues in Town in case of emergency. The Supervisor reported that they have been provided with everything they have asked for in terms of equipment, including gas masks. We are in constant communication with the federal and state government as far as preparation.
Leslie Gold, 1919 Pawtucket Avenue, hopes that closing the Transfer Station is not considered an option.
When no other members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed Privilege of the Floor.
Each of the following resolutions was approved with a vote of five ayes, unless otherwise noted.
Resolution 2003-162 takes action in connection with the filing of the Petition for Extension 150 to Consolidated Water District No. 1 for Cedar Hills Subdivision, at a cost of $77,979.75 to be paid by the developer.
Resolution 2003-163 takes action in connection with the filing of the Petition for Extension 105 to Sewer District No. 6 for Cedar Hills Subdivision, at a cost of $49,087.49 to be paid by the developer.
Resolution 2003-164 authorizes attendance at a conference to improve the methods of maintaining utility information for Matthew Yetto, offered by MWH Soft, Inc.
Resolution 2003-165 authorizes execution of an Outside Sewer User Agreement for United Cerebral Palsy Association, owner of 2827 River Road.
Resolution 2003-166 authorizes the repair of two pumps for the Balltown Road South pumpstation from Emmons Pump & Control, at a cost not to exceed $4,200.
Resolution 2003-167 authorizes the repair to a portion of a sewer line on Mayfair Road between Millington Road and Highland Park Road and to test and repair an additional 200’ east of Highland Park Road by Municipal Services, at a cost not to exceed $2,200.
Resolution 2003-168 authorizes the Supervisor to sign an agreement with Josephine Clark, owner of 1132 Mohegan Road, to construct a driveway on a portion of the Town’s easement.
Resolution 2003-169 authorizes the purchase and installation of a Cutler Hammer 50 HP VSD at Well No. 1 by Tri-Tech, Inc. at a cost not to exceed $4,950.
Resolution 2003-170 authorizes the purchase and installation of security enhancements for the Wellfield of Consolidated Water District No. 1 from Adirondack Pump and Well Service, at a cost not to exceed $3,400.
Resolution 2003-171 appoints Virginia Ferraro to the position of Informational Processing Specialist I in the Town Clerk’s office effective July 21, Grade 8, at a salary of $23,290 per year.
Resolution 2003-172 authorizes the purchase of LaserFiche software from General Code Publishers, for the Town Clerk’s office, at a cost of $8,790, and the purchase of a Fujitsu Scanner at a cost of $2,415 the cost of which is funded through a Records Management Grant.
Resolution 2003-173 certifies to the New York State Real Property Services the current homestead and non-homestead base proportions to be used as class tax shares for municipal and school district levies.
Resolution 2003-174 authorizes the sale of used computer equipment to Technical Business Solutions, at a total cost of $325.
Resolution 2003-175 retains the services of Callanan Industries for furnishing of equipment and labor necessary for road milling of certain roadways for the preparation of resurfacing at a cost not to exceed $35,000.
Resolution 2003-176 employs additional persons in the Niskayuna Recreation Program.
Resolution 2003-177 authorizes the purchase of a Chevrolet Impala police car for the Police Department from Warnock Fleet and Leasing, at a cost of $19,758.20.
Resolution 2003-178 authorizes Kathy Matern and a member of the Planning Board to attend the 2003 New York Planning Federation Conference to be held September 21 to
24 at a cost of $612 each.
At this time the Supervisor, with the approval of the Town Board, called for an Executive Session to discuss a particular employees employment history.
At this time there being no further business to come before the Town Board, the Supervisor adjourned the meeting of the Town Board.
Helen Kopke, Town Clerk