AT A REGULAR MEETING OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF NISKAYUNA DULY CALLED AND HELD ON THE 1ST DAY OF JUNE, 2004, AT THE NISKAYUNA TOWN OFFICE BUILDING, ONE NISKAYUNA CIRCLE, NISKAYUNA, NEW YORK , THE FOLLOWING MEMBERS WERE PRESENT;
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; Paul Sebesta, Comptroller; John Lubrant, Police Lieut; Frank Gavin, Superintendent of Highways.
Public Hearing to consider funds for the Sludge Dehydration Facility. Supervisor Smith announced that the building and electrical work will cost $583,000 and the Town is appropriating more from reserves to cover these costs. The cost for the total project will exceed $583,000 however. The Town has already identified savings in Sewer District No. 6 budget of about $80,000 to pay for a chimney vent and conveyer belts that had to be retrofitted with the smaller building. The original cost of the building was $185,000 but a smaller building was bid for $135,000. He estimates the total cost will approach about $700,000. Tonight we are holding a public hearing to cover the capital costs of $583,000 which have already been spent out of Sewer District
No. 6 funds that must be replenished.
When no members of the public wished to be heard, the Supervisor closed this public hearing.
TOWN CLERK’S BUSINESS
The minutes of the meeting of May 4, 2004 were approved as presented.
PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR
Tracey Ambrosino, 63 Lori Drive, stated she is against the connector street that is being proposed in the Paulsen development that will connect Lisha Kill Road to Route 7. When she first got involved in the issue she was told that if she had done her homework she would have known that this was a possibility. She did her homework by looking at the Official Town Map and Zoning Map and Lori Drive was depicted as a cul-de-sac. She was told that she should have looked at the approved subdivision map (which she had never heard of before).
The approved subdivision map refers to Lori Drive as a cul-de-sac and also shows land to be conveyed to the Town for future road connection. But, the land to be conveyed was not big enough for the road so, they would have needed additional land. She asked why the Planning Board and developer signed off on a plan that clearly indicates a cul-de-sac and where houses were set back per cul-de-sac rules and regulations. She believes any normal person would believe this was a cul-de-sac.
She wondered if it was ignorance of the Planning Board to allow the builder to make such a plan that would look like a cul-de-sac. If there was intent for this to have a future road, why was there not a stub road such as
there was at Douglas? There was a policy for stub roads but this was not done. The map was made clearly based on cul-de-sac rules and regulations. She questioned whether this was this ignorance, intent, or deceit and thinks the Town Supervisor and Town Board needs to get involved. We need to understand what happened and why was this allowed to be made in a way that the average buyer would think this was a cul-de-sac and pay premiums to live on this road. If it wasn’t going to be a cul-de-sac, a stub road should have been put in and it wasn’t. The Planning Board and the builder are accountable not the current residents. Legally she doesn’t think it is fair that the residents are being made to suffer.
She asked that people get involved and felt that there has been a lot of passing the buck. The Town Board has said it is not their issue it is the Planning Board. A prior Town Board had an issue with the Official Town Map and the paper street. The Planning Board says it is the developer. They can only see what the developer brings to them. They have presented options to the Planning Board that have fallen on deaf ears. There is no evidence of anything being done. She wondered what more they have to do. They attend meetings and do their research but she doesn’t know what more to do. The neighbors are not beating up on the Supervisor, but are coming to him for help. She needs people to stop passing the buck and asked each Board member to take an interest. It is more
than just a couple of residents who do not want this street. This neighborhood has existed since 1990 as a quiet cozy, safe, cul-de-sac environment. People have paid extra to live in this development. By putting in this connector road it is changing the current environment of this development. It will increase the traffic volume and is against Town Code. Clearly, there are issues with the site plan map. She believes the wrong-doing took place with the original Planning Board when they allowed the plan to go through. The more homework she does the more she finds that the neighbors are right and the plan is wrong. The Town Board needs to take action now.
Kevin Walsh, 2824 Whitmeyer Drive, was glad to see that the Town Board is moving along with the Comprehensive Plan submitted by the Committee. There were two changes to the plan submitted by the committee; Land Conservation was left as it existed previously, and cul-de-sacs are to be “discouraged.”
Regarding the Average Density Development in L-C, Mr. Walsh still supports that and a majority of the Committee supports it. By removing this it takes away an option by the Town Board to acquire land to be set-asides to increase current Town parks or current nature preserves. If they don’t adopt it tonight he encouraged the Board to continue to look at this because his understanding of the Comp Plan and New York State Law is that it can always be modified.
Charlene Tate, 78 Lori Drive, stated that she continues to be concerned about the Cerrone Paulsen development particularly the cut through street. A cut through street will destroy the integrity of their neighborhood. To put a cut through street through a residential neighborhood is not considered good planning. To change the character of a neighborhood should not be considered good planning. It goes against the Town Code to create a cut through street through a residential neighborhood and they continue to seek the Board’s assistance in the matter.
She noted the accomplishments from the 1993 Comprehensive Plan regarding bike path requirements and the implementation of multi-purpose walkways in subdivisions and suggested they would love to see a walkway at the end of the street instead of a cut through street. The Town has added 52 acres to neighborhoods parks and open space and asked why not consider this kind of option for Lori Drive. They ask that the new development not destroy their neighborhood and homes and what they have come to enjoy on Lori Drive.
They believe there are alternatives to the sketch plan that Paulsen has presented that would include a cul-de-sac and walkway or path that connects the subdivisions. There is a lot of land on Lishakill yet to be developed and longer range plan or vision of how this could be configured on Lishakill could mean not having to connect his development with their neighborhood. They ask that these ideas be considered and as tax payers and voters still continue to ask for the Board’s assistance in whatever they can to do to prevent this from happening. She thinks the Town isn’t taking into account all the land that is yet to be developed and the configurations that could be done years from now.
Debbie Baxter, 26 Lori Drive, was told that markings being done on the Paulsen development are for wetland delineation and surveying and not markings for lots. She stated that residents were developing another sketch plan and asked if it should be submitted to the Town Board as well as the Planning Board. Kathy Matern directed Ms. Baster to submit their plans her in the Planning Office and not at the Planning Board meeting. No other plans have been submitted. The Supervisor would be glad to look at it, however, the Town Board does not have a vote on this project. He stated that in listening to the process through the Planning Board if he feels they are not considering is something that can be done, he certainly would encourage the Planning Board to do so.
The following resolutions were approved with a vote of five ayes unless otherwise noted.
Resolution 2004-172 authorizes the repair and payment of a bill from Paul Luskin Paving, for materials and labor necessary to complete the emergency repair of a water main valve on State Street at North Alandale Avenue at a cost of $2,600.
Resolution 2004-173 amends the Code of the Town, Chapter 189, Subdivision of Land regarding street right-of-ways, street grades, cul-de-sacs, and land and/or cash designations.
Resolution 2004-174 amends the Code of the Town, Chapter 142, Noise to add heat pumps/air-conditioning units.
Resolution 2004-175 amends the Code of the Town, Chapter 193, deletes Swimming Pools.
Resolution 2004-176 amends the Zoning Ordinance of the Town and adds definitions for Condominium and Swimming Pool, revises maximum dwelling units per gross acres for condominiums, and revises Section 220-48.20 Design Standards regarding compatible materials for signs.
Resolution 2004-177 amends the Zoning Ordinance and Zoning Map by establishing the O-T Office and Technology Zoning District consisting of parcels formerly zoned R-2, R-3, I-R, and I-G in the vicinity of Aqueduct, Hillside and Balltown Roads in the northwest corner of the Town, shown on Map A. The map precludes the properties of DeSarro, Luccarelli, and Wagner. This resolution was approved with a vote of three ayes with Councilman Chapman and Holt voting no.
Supervisor Smith stated that the major import of this resolution (not withstanding the boundaries) was to alleviate the potential development of heavy industrial in this area and move to light industrial and allow for office technology. Discussion arose dealing with boundary properties of individuals who have reconsidered their desire to be part of the light industrial office technology. They wished to have their properties excluded from the zone so they may pursue zone changes or follow present zoning to allow them to do residential development in a form of single family homes, multi-family or multi-dwelling (apartments, townhouses, etc.). This resolution excludes those properties and would allow them to pursue their desire to develop as potential residential
The Planning Board recommended that the properties be excluded. One of the landowners tried for 10 years to market his property commercially and there was no success. This individual now has one 10-lot subdivision which will be permitted under either condition. Another landowner has indicated that he wishes to build apartments.
The Supervisor has not had people approach him to build commercial in this particular area. And Map A still leaves substantial amounts of lands to be developed commercially. Articles on sprawl talk about developing mixed areas and that funds should go to inner city areas to revitalize them. He believes that part of what we do in Niskayuna has to support the City of Schenectady. If the City continues to decline he feels that no matter what we do here we will suffer because of that and he believes we may be competing in this regard. The Town may end up with housing that is wanted by landowners rather than commercial properties that no one has come forth requesting. He does not feel a mixed use area would hurt the Town at this point. This is a tough issue that he has gone back and forth
on but no one has been doing a lot of development in this area. It would be nice to have many potential uses and leaves 250 acres remaining to be developed.
Traffic is going to be an issue because something has to be done with Balltown, Aqueduct, the Rexford Bridge, Freeman Bridge and Glenridge Road. Until this is done, there will not be a lot of development.
He does not want to sound like an advocate for developers but when we say we represent all people in Town, they pay taxes in Town also (and one lives in Town). At the public hearing the taxpayers spoke equally divided between individuals being opposed to the smaller zone and those in favor of it. When he was asked if he was “going to go with the developers” he wondered if it was the developers who owned the land now or the developers who would develop commercial property. Developers are not evil people, they are Town taxpayers and the Board represents them also.
Councilwoman Kasper stated that she does not want heavy industry in this area. The Board is performing a good service to people who have bought houses in this area knowing full well that they could build houses. People bought land in this area with the intent to build houses. In the beginning they thought the change was good but when they looked at the market they decided residential was the way to go. Zone changing is very hard to enact in fairness and she is not in favor of zone changes. In this case we need to take out heavy industry and she would like to promote acreage for the needed businesses and things that we are now allowing, but she does not wish to penalize people who want to build homes. Now when people buy houses in this area, they will
know that surrounding them can be other kinds of uses and she supports the abbreviated map.
She wants the mission of Metroplex mission to help Schenectady where it is needed. Right now people want to build houses. She doesn’t like the idea of taking the zoning away from them when they bought for this purpose. They have a right to build houses if they want to.
Councilwoman O’Donnell clarified that some landowners had the opportunity to build houses during this period, and previously they wanted to be included in this zone and now feel that they choose not to be included. Even though they didn’t pursue residential housing before, now they want to. She felt this is a tough decision to make.
Councilman Holt asked why it wasn’t developed residential when they could have developed it? All three property owners have had the property well over 10 years. They were developing other parts of Town when this was not the most desirable piece of land. Now land is scarce. Kathy Matern stated that they had their PUD ready to go in 1990. The original GEIS was on the expanded property and was a positive GEIS. He wondered if the area were developed with homes, if the State would expand the local roads due to increasingly traffic. If we continue the boundaries it makes it a more desirable piece of property. The smaller boundaries may not have a great effect on this, but he thinks because of the location, it would be more appealing. He
thinks it would be a greater service to the Town as a whole if it were developed that way. The Town Board has to imagine what impact adding 100 or 200 more houses would do to this area. Proper buffering is potentially available so the option of cushioning between neighborhoods is very possible. He favors keeping the expanded boundaries.
The original vision was to expand our non-residential tax base (of which there is too little). Many have referred to our taxes because the Town is so high in residential. We want to maintain the residential nature but this zone doesn’t take away from that.
Councilman Chapman is a proponent of the larger boundaries. We started with 470 acres. 316 acres are developable or developed. If you take the 100 acres that are proposed here, it drops the amount of acreage to be developed to 208 acres. The 108 acres that are proposed to be removed are a big piece of the projected build-out scenario for the light industrial district. This would be a big reduction in the district and he believes the County needs jobs more desperately than it needs homes.
This would be a hit for the school system. At build out this will generate $2.2 million per year for the school district in 25 years. By including housing and taking out 1/3 it reduces this considerably because students will be attending the schools. Commercial development sends tax dollars but does not send students. He is also concerned that building homes creates a “not in my backyard” situation such as when we heard from residents in this area who objected to the “adult use” ordinance.
There are aspects of commercial development that are legal such as lighting, air conditioning, fencing, building height, and traffic that are generally not consistent with being next to homes. There are some existing buffers such as Trinity Baptist Church and JCC, have grassy areas behind their buildings that offer a transition to a business and professional offices.
The larger boundary is entirely in the Metroplex Service District. This puts the Town in a position to take advantage of Metroplex funding support. Officials from Metroplex have said that it has good potential and they intend to aggressively market the area. Mr. Gillan has taken steps to consolidate the approval process and has already shown his nimbleness in helping bring business development to Schenectady County. In the City a $4.2 million project is underway where the Metroplex Authority is contributing $1.5 million and Empire State Development $250,000. He sees no reason why Metroplex would not be willing to support the district that we have. Niskayuna pays lots of sales tax and he thinks we are entitled to have those resources be utilized in our community. He also
believes that many good paying jobs would go to Schenectady residents. Mr. Wagner’s attorney has indicated that other communities have offered benefit packages to attract high tech and he states that the fact that Metroplex, Empire State Development Corp. and our State Senator has been willing to help out he thinks that we will be competitive. He believes it is not true that Metroplex is interested in only City of Schenectady. He noted that there are other businesses in the northwest corner of Town that have expanded such as G. E., Schenectady International, Environment One, and a proposed medical building. Access is a concern but Hillside Commerce Park are working on bringing a road further north. The housing project that the Town Board is taking out of the proposal will involve bringing a road in from Balltown which are steps in getting access in.
The wetland issues and power lines were here when representatives of DeSarro, Luccarelli, and Wagner asked to be included in the zone. He believes that smaller projects can go in that would add diversity and we wouldn’t be dependent on one or two big projects. He believes that the park is going to be successful and that the property owners will make money. The Conservation Advisory Council voted unanimously to adopt the larger buffers.
He commended the Supervisor for putting forward both boundaries to be put before the public and to get public comment on. This did not have to be the case and it was a step towards hearing from the people. He also believes that the Supervisor was open to hearing from Mr. Gillan who came and spoke with the Town.
Resolution 2004-178 adopts the Comprehensive Plan 2003.
Resolution 2004-179 appoints Parbattie Bumback to the temporary position of Clerical Aide to assist with the daily office operation in the Building Department from June 2 to June 11, 2004 at a rate of $9.79 per hour without benefits.
Resolution 2004-180 appoints James Marco, to the position of part-time Seasonal Maintenance Helper for the daily maintenance of Town Hall at a rate of $12.00 per hour, not to exceed 20 hours per week, without benefits.
Resolution 2004-181 authorizes the purchase of docks for the Lock 7 boat launch from 1 Shoremaster, at a cost not to exceed $4,500.
Resolution 2004-182 authorizes retaining Thopmas Loehr Excavating to furnish all necessary equ8pment, labor and trucking in conjunction with drainage work within the Town at a cost not to exceed $8,000.
Resolution 2004-183 employs additional persons in the Recreation Program.
Resolution 2004-184 authorizes the Supervisor to retain Paul Seney to conduct golf instruction classes effective May 1, 2004 at a total cost of $1,800 for a 5-week session.
Resolution 2004-185 appoints Justin Trentini, to the position of Grounds Worker, at a salary of $12.538 per hour, effective June 2, 2004.
Resolution 2004-186 authorizes the paving, resurfacing and installation of fencing of certain tennis courts from Copeland Coating Company for a total price not to exceed $3,600; uizzi Brothers Asphalt Paving for a total price not to exceed $5,000; and AFSCO Fence Supply for a total price not to exceed $9,500.
Resolution 2004-187 calls for a public hearing June 15, 2004 at 7:05 p.m. to consider amendment of the Vehicle and Traffic Code to provide for a STOP sign on Gloucester Place at Avon Crest Boulevard for traffic proceeding west.
Resolution 2004-188 calls for a public hearing June 15, 2004 at 7:10 p.m. to consider amendment of the Vehicle and Traffic Code to provide for the installation of a Yield sign on Oxford Way at Gloucester Place for traffic proceeding north.
At this time, with unanimous approval of the Town Board, Supervisor Smith called for an Executive Session to discuss litigation and contract issues.
Helen Kopke, Town Clerk