AT A REGULAR MEETING OF THE TOWN BOARD OF THE TOWN OF NISKAYUNA DULY CALLED AND HELD ON THE 5TH DAY OF APRIL, 2005, 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; Lew Moskowitz, Chief of Police; Paul Sebesta, Comptroller; Frank Gavin, Superintendent of Highways, and Richard Pollock, Superintendent of Water & Sewer.
Public Hearing No. 1 – To establish Extension No. 154 of Consolidated Water District No. 1 (Vly Point Condominium Development).
When no members of the public wished to be heard, Supervisor Smith closed the public hearing.
Public Hearing No. 2 – To establish Extension 110 of Sewer District No. 6 (Vly Point Condominium Development).
When no members of the public wished to be heard, Supervisor Smith closed the public hearing.
Public Hearing No. 3 – Considers amendment of Chapter 55 of the Town Code, entitled Alarm Systems, Emergency.
Chief Moskowitz stated that when responding to alarms, a minimum of one police car is sent to the destination. We hope with this amendment that people will keep their alarms in good working order so we do not have false alarms. In the event that they don’t keep their alarm in good order, this will give us the ability to collect a $20 fee for false alarms starting with the third false alarm. In the past, bills were sent for false alarms but the Town did not have a mechanism to follow up for collection.
Councilwoman Kasper was concerned that many of the non-paid accounts were for businesses. Businesses often send fee requests to their main offices which never get paid but this amendment will access the owner’s property tax bill. The Town Attorney will check to see if the language of “unpaid fees” could be extended to registration fees that are not paid.
Leslie Gold, 1919 Pawtucket Road, inquired how this amendment would pertain to schools, churches, etc.
Lil Stacey, Niskayuna Drive, expressed her concern about possibly receiving fines if a false alarm goes off while her neighbors are looking after her home.
PRIVILEDGE OF THE FLOOR
Michele Mazuryk, 1076 Merlin Drive, stated she had attended the Planning Board meeting the previous night and felt the Board didn’t really hear the residents. Niskayuna has at least three other developments. This will increase traffic and people into an already densely populated area will be substantial and in her opinion will be dangerous. With an average of two vehicles per household, a minimum of 324 more automobiles will be driving through her neighborhood. On a daily basis, Merlin Park residents endure a “near death” experience when they attempt to get into Merlin Drive. They share the turning lane with cars going west onto Liskakill Road and consistently have another car heading towards them in the turning lane.
She believes the safety of residents is at risk, there are numerous children living in the area of Merlin Park, and there are no parks at the end of Town. She was surprised that the Board did not work with the School Board during discussions about development. Additional homes of the magnitude generated by developments will complicate matters for an already overburdened elementary school. She is not objecting to development in the Town but she asked the Planning Board to be responsible in maintaining the quality of life for the residents.
Mark Wagner, 1080 Merlin Drive, was surprised to hear that there are provisions for new development, where 10% space could be obtained for parkland or Town could accept a fee in lieu of land. The developer’s engineer mentioned a traffic study, but he is not sure what they consist of. Residents raised a lot of questions of the Planning Board and it was not clear when they would get answers. With number of concerns he asked if it was necessarily the case that this would be the only hearing.
Mr. Wagner expressed their concerns about water and drainage in the area particularly in the row of houses abutting the new development. There is quite a lot of water in basements along that stretch and he described water at his home and those of his neighbors. He wondered if the developer proceeds makes provisions for drainage but creates problems does the develop pay to fix the problems created. He is concerned with the rate of development in Niskayuna and he stated that neighboring towns had enacted building moratoriums. He urged the Town Board to consider a moratorium.
He was also concerned with the conduct of the Planning Board at their last meeting and he felt that residents concerns were not being taken seriously. He was concerned that the Town Supervisor addressed the residents suggesting that out of avoidance of litigation the Board’s role was limited to taking questions. If the project is allowable within the limits of the zoning ordinance the Board had to go with it or the Town would be sued. He believes the Planning Board has a larger role. Although he is new to the process, he left the meeting with the impression that Niskayuna “rolls over for developers.” He was worried that we would turn into a smaller version of Clifton Park.
Supervisor Smith stated that when he spoke at the Planning Board meeting, he was concerned that people believed that the Planning Board was the enemy and they are “pro development.” The residents stated that they moved to this town because of the type of Town it was. He was trying to emphasize that it was the Planning Board that created the environment of this Town. Some of the members of the Planning Board have been members for many years. Many of them sit with poker faces because they have to be objective. They do have a responsibility to the developer who is a landowner and who is also a resident of the Town. One speaker questioned that there were 100 residents in attendance and why did the Board have to listen to one developer. Smith
emphasized that the Board has to listen to everyone because they are required to. They do not make discretionary decisions as each project comes in as to whether they “like” a project or not. The Town has a Zoning Ordinance and Comprehensive Plan that has guided the Town for the last 30 years.
Smith continued that we don’t have the ugly parts of sprawl such as strip malls, gas stations, and convenience stores at every corner because of the Planning Board. The Board listens to issues such as drainage concerns and the developer has an engineer to address these concerns. The Town has an engineer on staff who reviews projects and they are responsible to deal with drainage and other issues.
This is an emotional issue because there is going to be a change in a neighborhood. The Planning Board is required to listen and they require studies to be done. Their efforts have created a very decent Town that he is proud to be a very small part of the Town. He has been Supervisor for five years but the planning process with our zoning ordinance has been in place for 35 years. He is not disassociating himself from any blame that anyone wants to put on him, he is saying that he is not taking credit for any value of what this Town is. The Planning Board is made of up residents who live in the Town who do not want to destroy the Town and who do not “roll over” for developers. They never have and they never will.
These are the messages he was trying to convey that night. He does not think we are even close to Clifton Park as far as planning. We are a good residential town that has avoided some of the pitfalls of sprawl. Answers to resident’s questions will come in with studies and reports. The public hearing is to get input from residents and raise issues that perhaps they have not thought of in terms of the project and the process. It is not necessarily to have a dialogue and go back and forth with questions. There are working sessions that will take place on this project and there is Privilege of the Floor at every Planning Board meeting. If there are issues raised that they are concerned about that they feel have not been answered residents should make
them known to the Planning Board.
Smith is very comfortable with the process and he attends Planning Board meetings to see how things are going. From the reactions he saw the night of the last Planning Board meeting he sensed that the residents felt that no one was listening to them. He has a different style and if he were the Chairman of the Planning Board he would have taken more time to talk about the project. Meetings go on to 11 p.m. and if we got into a debate on each issue they would go into the middle of the morning and no one would choose to volunteer to become a member of the Planning Board. The process requires residents to stay on top of issues. Residents should come to meetings, ask the questions and state their feelings. Residents need to remember that “they” and “us” are “you.” We care about our
Town as much as all residents and all Board members have been residents a long time and he is confident that the Planning Board will address the appropriate issues. If everything is covered, legally the project will probably be approved because the project is allowed in the zoning ordinance and is not a discretionary decision.
Councilwoman Kasper stated that as Chairman of Parks and Recreation, if the Planning Board so wants and has referred it back to them, they will look at the project again.
Councilman Chapman stated that he knew there was discussion about development and the school looking into a plan for the middle school and high school and he is aware that the Superintendent had looked at some of the proposed development. At Planning Board meetings residents attend the Public Hearing but don’t stay for the work session where often the Board addresses issues to the developer that were raised during the public hearing. He suggested that if they have concerns or hear something that troubles them, they should provide this information to the Town Planner – preferably in writing - to facilitate the Planner’s awareness of what the concerns are. He reminded the residents that the Comprehensive Plan was available on the web site and public hearings were held. The Board has tried to be
careful where commercial development is allowed and by and large the Planning Board tries to extend themselves beyond what is in the code and tries to be good planners. He asked the residents not to give up on them too quickly as they will listen.
Supervisor Smith stated that Ms. Matern meets periodically with the School District, and he meets with the Superintendent three or four times per year. The School District knows what is going on in the Town. Councilman Holt stated that in the past the Chairman of the Media Department communicates with the Planning Office and it was his impression that development has always been monitored.
Supervisor Smith also stated that the 72 units of new development will be condo and townhouses which attract empty nesters and single professionals. The houses on Flower Hill he understands will be $600,000 to $700,000 so probably most of the owners will be a little older with children in high school. The Cerone Paulson development will be in the $300,000 to $350,000 range.
The following resolutions were approved with a vote of four ayes (Councilwoman O’Donnell was absent), unless otherwise noted.
Resolution 2005-90 orders the establishment of Extension 154 to Consolidated Water District No. 1 for the Vly Point Condominium Development at a cost of $135,000.
Resolution 2005-91 orders the establishment of Extension No. 110 to Sewer District No. 6 to be known as Vly Point Condominium Development at a cost of $165,000.
Resolution 2005-92 calls for a public hearing April 26 at 7:10 p.m. to consider the leasing of space on the water tower of Consolidated Water District No. 1 for the purpose of installing an antenna for a personal communications service system by Cellico Partnership dba Verizon Wireless at an annual rental fee of $21,600.
Resolution 2005-93 appoints Carol Connor a permanent full-time Clerk to the Town Justice, at a Grade 8, at an annual salary of $24,709.
Resolution 2005-94 calls for a public hearing April 26, at 7:05 p.m. regarding the Town’s proposed Cost Allocation Plan to establish guidelines for the expenditure of Federal, State, and local funds by the Town to be allocated to one or more of its community development programs.
Resolution 2005-95 calls for a public hearing April 26, 2005 at 7 p.m. regarding the Town’s proposed Anti-Displacement Relocation Assistance Plan.
Town Attorney Eric Dickson stated that Resolution 2005-94 and 95 deals with certain grants from New York State in connection with Hillside Commerce Park. NYS has informed the Town that they require certain policies be adopted by the municipality. Resolution 2005-94 is an accounting policy that provides for how the Town allocates State, Federal, and municipal law funds for certain projects and gives accounting directions for how these expenditures are allocated.
Resolution 2005-96 is a policy that states that in the event that people are displaced by the activities funded by the grants, the Town must have a policy to assist these residents who are displaced. The Hillside Commerce Park project will not displace any Town residents, but this policy must be in place.
Resolution 2005-97 authorizes Kathleen Matern, Matthew Yetto, and Kathleen Persons to attend the GOSC 6th Annual Small Cities Conference to be held in Niagara Falls, October 11-13, 2005 at a cost of $180 for three nights lodging per person for a total cost of $540.
Resolution 2005-98 authorizes the Supervisor to enter into a contract with Empire State Fireworks to provide fireworks at Niska-Day at a cost not to exceed $5,500.
Resolution 2005-99 authorizes the Supervisor to retain the services of The Chazen Company, to perform the necessary survey work to include mapping, deed search, and iron rods for the property known as Aqueduct Storage, Grange Hall, Environmental Clearing House and Old Fire House at a cost not to exceed $6,500.
Councilwoman Kasper stated that she felt it was important for the Town to know where the boundaries are for Town owned property.
Councilman Chapman supports getting a survey for the Grange Hall since we will be doing work there and with the new storage buildings at the Highway Garage we may not need the storage we now do at Aqueduct Storage and the Old Fire House. He believes there are many positive uses for the Environmental Clearing House property and he is opposed to the sale of this property.
Resolution 2005-100 authorizes the purchase of a HP LaserJet 9050N printer and a 2000SH LJ 9000 Series to be used by the Water Department for the water billing program from Atec Group Technology Integration Services, at a total cost of $3,863.38.
Supervisor Smith stated that in an effort to automate the water billing system and this new printer will save labor hours now needed to print the water billing cards. This printer will accommodate the 56 lb. card stock used for water billing cards.
There are some longer term issues regarding the radio read on meters phasing out the meters that we have where we send cards to residents but this is a longer term issue with a much greater expense. We are hoping to move forward with some of the commercial meters doing this, but residential will probably be left to future generations.
Resolution 2005-101 adopts a Co-Payment Offset HRA Plan for reimbursement of Medical Care Expenses to eligible Town employees that are requesting reimbursement under the hold harmless plan from certain increases in the Town’s health insurance coverage and appoints Charles F. Herman & Associates to administer the plan.
Resolution 2005-102 authorizes the Supervisor to retain C. T. Male Associates, to perform the necessary as-built survey work of the comfort station at Lyons Park at a total cost not to exceed $1,200.
At this time Councilwoman Kasper withdraw a proposed resolution that would accept a bid for materials, equipment and labor for the installation of fencing for the proposed dog park to be located near the Recreation Center on Aqueduct Road. After further investigation of this site, including poling all Board members, they have decided that the site is not appropriate, and they will be investigating two other possible locations.
Councilman Chapman stated that he believed the site would work because of the size, trees, and the fact that there is water. He understands there is a distance issue but he believes that residents drive to this location for the pool, dances, and Pop Warner and people who own dogs would drive there. He understands it is an isolated located, and understands this is a majority decision.
Resolution 2005-103 authorizes the sale of the seven unclaimed impounded vehicles to L & A Auto Salvage, for a total price of $445.00.
There being no further business to come before the Board, Supervisor Smith declared the meeting adjourned.
Helen F. Kopke, Town Clerk