AT A REGULAR MEETING OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF NISKAYUNA DULY CALLED AND HELD ON THE 20TH DAY OF JULY, 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; Richard Pollock, Superintendent of Water & Sewer; Paul Sebesta, Comptroller; Kathy Matern, Planner; Lew Moskewitz, Police Lieut.
TOWN CLERK’S BUSINESS
The minutes of the meeting of June 15, 2004 were approved as presented.
PRIVILEGE OF THE FLOOR
Tom Cannizzo, 949 North Ravine, hoped to dispel a rumor that the Recreation Center was going to be moved to an alternate location on River Road. Councilwoman Kasper responded that that was a bad rumor, and she never heard of this idea.
John Macri, 54 Lori Drive, inquired about parkland in the proposed Cerrone subdivision. Councilwoman Kasper replied that Mr. Paulsen’s original plan submitted to the Parks Committee was reviewed. The Committee told Kathy Matern, Town Planner, that they wanted at least a “multipurpose walkway” along his roadway, and they have looked at opening a walkway through two of the corner lots. This has not gone any further because it would mean getting Birchwood School’s permission. New plans were presented later that week and the next Parks and Rec meeting is next Thursday at 9:30. Mr. Paulsen submitted new plans yesterday, June 19; however, Kathy Matern stated that these plans are being sent back to the engineer because they are incorrect.
A walkway does not constitute a park, however, this was the plan that Paulsen submitted and Mrs. Matern asked the Committee to comment on the property. Councilwoman Kasper has the subsequent sketch plans submitted by the neighborhood organization. She understands that the plan that the developer submits is the one that the Planning Board looks at. The Planning Board knows that they value good parkland. She has looked very carefully at the neighborhood’s plans and likes something about each of them; she has to wait to hear from the entire Committee.
Mr. McCree is concerned because when they approved the sketch plans at the Planning Board meeting there was some discussion of the developer giving the Town money in lieu of a park. He feels a park would be justified versus money. Councilwoman Kasper responded that it depends on the development of the whole parcel. She has to be fair that his property alone is not going to constitute the best location for a park because of wetlands. They asked him to talk to his neighbors to get a plan for the whole area which is the best way to do something like this.
Tracey Ambrosino, 63 Lori Drive, asked the Town Board for their assistance with the cut through and asked them to attend a Planning Board and speak out.
Kevin Baxter, 26 Lori Drive, explained why the Lori Drive residents distrust the process. In February Mr. Paulsen submitted sketch plans and they were told that the Planning Board was just approving the sketch plan and it meant nothing. Following these meetings they were told by many people that they should not fight this because it was a “done deal.” Supervisor Smith and William Hendricks have expressed that nothing has been done yet, yet at a meeting two weeks ago, Mrs. Matern said the cut through was going through even though nothing has transpired between the developer and the Planning Board.
Mr. Baxter quoted the Supervisor in the Niskayuna Journal saying “if the developer owns the land he gets to decide what to submit.” Mr. Baxter has learned that the developer and the Planning Department have been meeting and there have already been changes made to the sketch plan at the recommendation of the Planning Department that would be incorporated in the preliminary sketch plans, so it is not quite the case that the developer gets to submit what he wants. There is input from the Planning Department and from that perspective the Town Planning Board reports to you, so the Town Board does have input into the process even though we are told that the Town Board has no input into the process.
He does not think the truth is on the table and he thinks without some hard fighting this is a “done deal.”
Supervisor Smith stated that the only discussion he was aware of is that Susan Cerrone has come in with a conceptual plan but nothing was submitted. There have been discussions that if there is a connection, the connection will be designed in such a way that it is not an attractive cut through. Mr. Paulsen does have the right to submit whatever he wants and he can ignore that – so no one is lying. One direction that has been given to the Planning Department is to look at the potential connection and how that might be designed if it occurs.
Mrs. Matern may have stated that (baring reports coming in about traffic, etc.) it is in the Comprehensive Plan that there is a long standing Town policy that advocates connectivity of neighborhoods. Unless something happens that says this should not happen for one reason or another, he suspects Mrs. Matern is saying “this may happen.” If it does, it should be designed in such a way as to insure that it is safe and it is not an attractive cut through.
Mrs. Matern stated that this is basically what she reported at the meeting.
Mike Ambrosino, 63 Lori Drive, stated that he is looking for the Town Board’s support and input with the Planning Board. He agrees with the interpretation of the Comprehensive Plan regarding connectivity. The Plan also addresses bringing traffic through neighborhoods and this plan would connect a county road with a state road via their 800’ road. Since 1991 this neighborhood has existed with no sidewalks and it is safe the way it is now. The 40 residents know each other and will not be flying down off the top of the hill, moving downward toward Route 7 picking up speed, and running a stop sign. A cut through will increase the change of accidents and opening up the neighborhood will ruin it.
Debbie Baxter, 26 Lori Drive, stated that the Town Code indicates that diffusing traffic through neighborhoods is not desirable. Supervisor Smith has stated he agrees with connectivity, but she believes that connecting a state and county road through a neighborhood is not good planning for the Town. She does not believe that the Town’s safety is going to be best represented by such a connection. Residents on this street will suffer because of a connection. Residents purchased their houses believing that this street was a cul-de-sac as it was represented on numerous maps in the Town.
Mrs. Baxter encouraged the Town Board to tell the Planning Board that this connection will change the quality of life in their neighborhood. She also asked the Board to ask the Planning Board to plan ahead and find numerous other parcels of land connected to the Cerrone Paulson development. She is concerned that as parcels become developed in the area they will add to traffic flowing through their neighborhood. There are alternatives and ways to loop the streets around and bring them back out to Lishakill Road and not bring them to Route 7. By looking at the big plan one can see reasonable alternatives.
Lisa D’Alessandro, 23 Lori Drive, asked the Town Board to work on her behalf to encourage the Planning Board not to allow her street to become a cut through.
Chuck Hoorwitz, 58 Lori Drive, stated that he felt powerless and unheard as a resident. He believes the Town Board represents the residents, not Mr. Paulson and that the Dean Street Park is an example of nice connectivity. If Mr. Paulson doesn’t build on this site other developers will. If they need a Town park to move ahead with their development they will put one in. To destroy what they have built is wrong and it is wrong of the Town Board to not represent what the residents want. When other residents come to the Board they will also feel helpless because the Town Board is not representing the residents.
Mr. Horowitz suggested a park or hardened path for emergency vehicles to get to the other end of the cul de sac. We have many long cul de sacs in Niskayuna (many off River Road). We do not need increased traffic and the Board should represent the resident’s needs as well as Mr. Paulson’s.
Charene Tate, 78 Lori Drive, stated that to put a cut through connecting two communities is bad for the integrity of their neighborhood and sets a bad precedence throughout the Town. They want to have confidence in the process of the Town Board and Planning Board and that things are being done in the best interest of the taxpayers and residents. Right now they are not feeling that. One of their largest investments is being jeopardized by the need to put the subdivision through with a cut through street. There are alternatives and she hopes that the Planning Board sees that. Making cut through neighborhoods is not part of the Town Code and they need the Town Board’s help now.
Bob Sweeney, 82 Lori Drive, pointed out that the Town Board had no control over District 1 Fire Departments billing for district ambulances, but they did something to help out. This time they are doing nothing and the residents are asking the Board for help. They voted for town people who said there would be no cut through on Lori Drive and then the Town Board appointed people who want to cut through Lori Drive. Now the residents distrust the system.
The following resolutions were approved with a vote of five ayes, unless otherwise noted.
Resolution 2004-214 rescinds Resolution 2004-202 of June 29, 2004 and authorizes the repair to a portion of an 8” sewer main on Cunningham Court from Thomas Loehr Excavating at a cost not to exceed $8,000.
Resolution 2004-215 rescinds Resolution 2004-203 of June 29 and authorizes advertising for bids to slip-line approximately 5,000 feet of an 8” and 10” sewer main in the Providence Avenue area.
Resolution 2004-216 calls for a public hearing August 10 at 7 p.m. to consider the application of Maldel to allow the construction of a 12,394 SF professional office building located at 1760 Union Street.
Resolution 2004-217 appoints Harvey Randall, 887 Birchwood Lane, as Chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals, effective immediately, until December 31, 2004.
Resolution 2004-218 appoints Ellen Malkis, 719 Bobby Court, as a member of the Planning Board and Zoning Commission until December 31, 2008 effective immediately.
Resolution 2004-219 rescinds Resolution 2004-206 of June 29, 2004, and grants Communication Federal Credit Union a special use permit to allow the construction of a 4,500 SF building located at 3333 Consaul Road with conditions.
Resolution 2004-220 authorizes the Supervisor to enter into an agreement with Schenectady Metroplex Development Authority to execute all documents necessary to finalize the Community Development Block Grant.
Resolution 2004-221 authorizes the Supervisor to enter into a hold harmless agreement with the property owner of 1256 Lock 7 Road.
Resolution 2004-222 employs additional persons in the Recreation Department.
There being no further business to come before the Town Board, the Supervisor adjourned the meeting.
Helen Kopke, Town Clerk