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Healthy Choices for Families

Town Board Minutes 3/14/06


        Others present:  Helen Kopke, Town Clerk; Eric Dickson, Town Attorney; Richard Pollock, Superintendent of Water & Sewer; Bill Lawrence, Network Coordinator; Frank Gavin, Superintendent of Highways; Kathy Matern, Town Planner; Paul Sebesta, Comptroller.

        Public Hearing No. 1 – considers a Special Use Permit for 2125/2127 River Road for the construction of a medical office building.
        Town Attorney Eric Dickson explained the purpose of a Special Use Permit.  The Town Board’s inquiry is limited to things that are specific to the application on the particular subject property and to those things that are peculiar to the application that have a bearing on the health or welfare of the surrounding neighborhoods.  There has been a predetermination under our Zoning Ordinance that these uses are appropriate in the zones in which they are located.
        Bruce Seacore, Civil Engineer, Volmer Engineering representing the developer, showed the site map that represented the parcel in question showing River and Zenner Road.  This is a 9.4 acre site and is surrounded by an existing set of medical buildings, soccer fields and a fire house.  This site was approved some years ago for a larger building and the site plan showed the old building of 82,000 SF.  The developer did not proceed with the prior plan because of federally protected wetlands on the site.  The redesigned site is proposing a building set back of 230’ from River Road, access from River and Zenner Road.  They are proposing to do all mitigation on site and they are preparing an application with the Army Corp of Engineers for mitigation.  They have met and agreed with their wetland delineation.  
        The traffic pattern is the same as the previous plan.  Storm water management will meet the new DEC regulations for both water quality and quantity.  Storm water release from the site will be no greater after development than pre-development.  About 15 different physician tenants are expected.  
        A landscaping plan has been submitted, a complete traffic study has been updated and they recommend a left turning lane onto River Road which was the only traffic issue.  The turning lane is far enough away from the intersection to not affect traffic flow and they would get a County work permit for this (there is a secondary access from Zenner).  62% of the site will remain green with 5% building coverage which includes buffering to Zenner Road and River Road. The developer believes that planned parking is in excess of what is needed when comparing this building to an identical building in Saratoga.  They are proposing to build 85% of the required 370 parking spaces although they are eligible for an up to 25% waiver.  The Saratoga building has 308 spaces and they typically never see 100% occupancy in the parking lot.  Other traffic concerns were beyond the scope of this project such as Rt. 146 which is part of the State transportation study for future upgrades.  No other sidewalks are planned except from the River Road entrance to the building.
        Councilman Chapman noted that the traffic study suggested both a right and left turn lane exiting the building and he encouraged the developer to plan for two lanes.  It was explained that one lane was dropped because when the building was reduced in size by almost 25% the counts indicated they did not need the double lanes.  Also, since this whole area is wetlands, and they need to maintain the size of the water storage pond to meet the DEC regulations. They feel they are squeezed in this area, but the developer will look at the issue again.  
        Councilman Chapman noted a referral from Schenectady County stating that no further action should be taken until the Army Corp of Engineers is given an opportunity to comment on the proposal.  The developer stated that they would be disturbing just under half an acre and will be giving back a half acre in new wetland.  North Country Environment is putting together a plan with contours and wetland plantings and in some cases they will be taking the plantings they will be disturbing and replanting them in the new wetland area.  

        542006_20424_0.png, asked if the developer had written permission from the Army Corp of Engineers.  They have a letter that the Corps agree with the delineation and they are in the process of submitting a permit through the remediation plan which should arrive in four weeks and will be filed with the Town.       

        Public Hearing No. 2 – considers a Special Use Permit for 3359 Consaul Road for the construction of an adult home
Lou Leece, representing the Ingersoll Adult Home, stated that this was a four-acre parcel of land located at 3359 Consaul Road.  They are proposing to build a 64,000 SF, 74- bed adult home facility.  The project has received two variances for density (from 15 beds to 18 beds per acre) and lot size variance (from a 5-acre to 4-acre) and is currently zoned R-1.  He is not aware that the trust for the Ingersoll home requires at least 5 acres, but they do need Surrogate Court of Approval to do the move.  There are no restrictions on the title to the property.  In 1998 a care facility project was approved for this site that proposed a 28,571 SF building with 60 beds.  The current proposed size is considered optimum size for economies of scale.  
        Bret Steenburgh, Engineer, stated this is a proposal to construct a 33,700 SF footprint totaling approximately 62,000 SF two-story structure.  The site will have two access points, one directly across from O. D. Heck and one directly across from the entrance to Mohawk Commons.  
        They are proposing 36 parking spaces which exceed the required spaces of 28.  Storm water management coming from the north will be routed around the site to the existing swale and an existing drainage ditch along the front portion.  All water on the site from impervious areas (including the structures and parking areas) will be diverted to a closed drainage system which will route all of the storm water to a new storm water management area which has been designed in accordance with NYS DEC standards. The discharge point will be into the existing swale which runs through the site and discharges under Consaul Road through a headwall structure.
There are approximately 0.09 acres of wetlands which are confined to a very defined drainage swale. Based on his estimation, the pipe is 20-30 years old, with trees in excess of 12” directly above the pipe.  They propose extending the pipe to the rear property line.  This will impact 0.06 acres of wetlands and 150 linear foot of stream.  This can be accomplished under the nation-wide permits requiring no permit or preconstruction notification to the U. S. Army Corp of Engineers.  Because they are under the thresholds for a nation-wide permit, they have not contacted the Army Corp.
        Councilwoman Kasper questioned the amount of parking and cited The Eddy which ended up not having enough parking (although The Eddy has an entirely different classification of residents).  Jim McFee, Administrator of Ingersoll residence, stated that currently they are taking care of 33 residents of which only three drive.  He has 15 staff over three shifts and the largest shift has six drivers.  It is anticipated that there will be a maximum of 20 drivers with the new building and he feels there is more than sufficient parking planned.  The 35 parking spaces planned will accommodate 15 visitors.  Most of the staff do not drive (they take a bus or get rides), and he believes this situation is not likely to change.  Currently, there is no bus route on Consaul Road but he didn’t foresee this as being a major issue.  It is not a long walk and they could cut through the parking lots of the mall.  
Supervisor Smith suggested that with the development of The Eddy, Hannaford Plaza, Mohawk Commons, and this home, discussions with CDTA should be held to discuss Consaul Road bus routes.  
Councilman Chapman read from correspondence from the County and asked if the District Engineer had looked at the proposal for any special conditions required. Environmental impact has been discussed with the Corps, and it was stated that if they are under 1/10th of an acre, and less than 200 linear feet of fill for the stream, there is no jurisdiction with the Army Corps and they fit the nation-wide permit.  The portion of the stream that was already filled in the 1970’s (pre-nationwide permit) is not calculated in the fill.  They do not have to get anything in writing since they are abiding by the nationwide permit requirements.  
Councilman Chapman inquired why the expansion on the current site fell through and if the Home is not economically viable at the current location how will they make it at the new location.  Mr. McFee stated that they are withdrawing from their investments every month to keep them going but they are “out of style” in their current building (such as shared bathrooms).  If they built on the present property they would have to market the facility during construction; tolerate construction traffic; and he did not know if the existing building would withstand an addition.  The Board has hired Sage Associates, a professional consulting company, who have found that with a larger property over a period of 18 months the home would run at a profit which they cannot do at their current location.  Councilman Chapman requested a copy of Sage Associates findings.  
Ingersoll wishes to secure a license as an Assisted Living Facility.  Most residents are on their own most of the time and need some assistance with medication.  They hope to incorporate an “aging in place” concept which would enable residents to continue their stay at the home no matter what level of care they required.  Sage Associates is helping them compile the required application to apply to New York State for the appropriate licenses.

542006_20424_0.png, member of the Conservation Advisory, Safe Routes Board, and former member of the Committee that formed the Comprehensive Plan in 2003, explained the purpose behind the SEQR requirements and stated that it was designed to develop a mechanism in which environmental implications of projects can enter early in the project discussions.  
The Niskayuna Code states that Special Use Permits for all uses in all zoning districts are Type 1 SEQR actions likely to require the preparation of an EIS.  This means that the developer must give a written assessment of the impact of the development.  
He felt there were several issues that suggest that this project requires a positive declaration, such as character of the neighbor, wetland issues, and proximity to the natural recreational area (open spaces of Brennan Lane, Hummingbird, and the Reist Wildlife Sanctuary).  He outlined what is surrounding the proposed project. The surrounding zoning is R-2, R-1, and N-C.  Past history supports that this is a residential area.  In 1998 Manor Health Care was approved for a 28,571 SF, 60 bed facility.  It had no circular drive around the building and it contained walking paths for the residents.  In 2002, a condo development was approved with a required a zoning change from R-1 to R-3.  The Town Board denied the zoning change because the property was inappropriate for the area.  He felt this meant that there is a desire by the Board to keep this area R-1.  
Mr. Strayer stated that the current application for a 74-bed facility is inappropriate because of the building dimensions.  The large scale development could impact the undeveloped land and the scale is out of harmony with surrounding area.  The building will be 350’ long, 160 wide, 33’ high, and the total projected area is 365’.  The paved area will come within 8’ of the backline property and 15’ against Consaul Road which will leave 9’ of green space before the parking lot which is completely different than what is on Consaul Road now.  
The building footprint is 32,240SF, pavement is 50,711SF, and 1.9 acres will either have roof or pavement (about 46% of the site).  An R-1 or R-2 development would be have approximately 27% covered by impervious areas making this proposal a 77% increase over an R-1 zone.  The project sets a precedent with a large building, close to Consaul Road, and a lot of parking lot and with undeveloped land around it.  
The site is very flat and there is a stream that drains about 100 acres including the area by Hannaford.  There is also a small stream along the north.  There are wetlands in the middle with cattails and where they propose to put the ditches he believes there are more wetlands. Schenectady County has recommended delineating wetlands and bringing in the District Engineer before the application is approved.  DEC said there are Federal wetlands surrounding the area and although they do not appear to be at this site, they recommend a review since it has been a substantial time since the wetlands have been delineated.  The stream may be a protected stream and should be identified.  The entire water area drains under Consaul Road to an area that is a DEC wetland. A location next to a natural area deserves special circumstances.  Lights will be on 24/7 and he wonders if this is appropriate next to a wild life preserve and the townhouse development.  
Special requirements for a Special Use Permit are proposed to insure that the project is in harmony with the neighboring community and does not adversely impact the surrounding property.  The Board has a lot of leeway and can establish the standards.  If they require an EIF the applicant will have to address these issues and the Board will be able to make a determination if the project will adversely impact the neighborhood. He compared and contrasted the setting of Alterra on Troy Road versus Union Street

542006_20424_0.png, noted that if the property gets built up the multi-use path would need to connect all along Consaul Road.  The current plan shows it ending before it exists the property on the east side.

542006_20424_0.png, stated that it has been suggested that residents who are concerned about the current site location are only concerned because the unintended consequences of granting this SUP will impact what might happen to the current site of the Ingersoll Home.  He believes residents  are concerned about this, but, they are entitled to be concerned about any development with regard to its impact on other citizens.  
Reading from the Full Environmental Assessment (not filled out fully) he noted many missing or possibly incorrect items as follows:  1.2 acres are missing from the description; and the water table appears to be incorrectly listed as 8’.  He felt the contour lines indicated a somewhat unique geological formation and the County reference called attention to it also.  The name of the river to which the stream is a tributary should have been listed as Lishakill which drains to the Mohawk.  
        The Attorney General and Surrogate Court are not listed in the application under State agencies involved, nor is the Army Corp listed under Federal agencies involved even though the County clearly believes they should be. Dr. Reilly disagreed that the application is compatible with adjoining land and surrounding land uses.
        Town Planner Kathy Matern stated that the application has been reviewed by her department and the application updated.

Carl George, Manager of the Reist Sanctuary, stated that the Sanctuary is 112 acres and there have been adjacent lands set aside as forever wild.  There are 240 homes that front within 200 yards of the area.  These residents purchased their homes because of the wild area.  For this project to be viable it must integrate with this large wild area.  The site is especially influential because it is on the outlet of the drainage system.  Any impact which valves or gates the flow of water off of this land is very influential for all of the land upstream.  If this culvert is blocked it cause a long standing flooding of the area which is destructive to the trail system and bridges that provide public access.  He is concerned where the gating occurs north of Consaul Road because there is about 10,000 yards of fill. There is a hint that this area is drifting eastward toward the gate.  As the land moves more closely, it erodes more definitely and creates a flooding tendency for the Reist Sanctuary and Hummingbird forever wild area.
He thinks the Environmental Impact Study and the SEQR process must be applied and the developers must take a look at the integrative impact of the proposal on this area because effects do not stop at the edge of their property.  It could potentially impact dozens of homes, hundreds of people, and millions of dollars of investment in this community.

        542006_20424_0.png, Chairperson, Schenectady Heritage Foundation, which is a not-for-profit group that promotes historic preservation in Schenectady County requested a SEQR review and suggested that a marketing study would be appropriate for the Board to request.  She questioned whether this isolated site is appropriate for the elderly who do not drive and as a society we should focus on these issues.  
Although current residents are not drivers, she wonders if future residents will be drivers making parking an issue.  Future workers may also have cars, increasing the parking issues.  She asked the Board to use the legal tools they have at their disposal to consider the entire project.  She hopes the Board will consider finding a new use for the current Ingersoll site and preserving this important architecture.

542006_20424_0.png, member of the Conservation Advisory Council, suggested that the proposed location is not suitable for a Care Home because of lack of access to public transportation. The Town Code states that “sites shall be reasonably accessible to the center of community activities, physician services and medical facilities; located within the service area of a fire department, public transportation within a reasonable distance is desirable, sufficient space suitable for outdoor recreation should be available and the outdoor noise should be minimal.”  
Nearby public transportation within safe walking distance is good planning.  Consaul Road is not on a bus line, nor is there a bus on Balltown Road.  There are no current plans to revive Balltown Road service and the site is ¾ mile from the State Street bus.  Most of the route has no sidewalk and no provision for pedestrian access.  Walking the roads from State Street to the proposed location in the dark early morning, in rain or snow is not really feasible.  
Our two current Care Homes located on Troy Road and Union Street both have bus routes and sidewalks.  There are a range of jobs at an Adult Care facility, but a significant amount of the work is done by people who are not getting paid a high wage and they may not be able to afford cars.  We should plan for access to public transportation for both residents and employees to give them transportation options.  We should ask the developers to check the bus lines and to seek sights close by them.  This will ensure a location that is good for the residents of the home, workers, administrators and the general public.  She believes that a Special Use Permit on Consaul Road should be denied at this time.
Mr. McFee stated that the home provides its own transportation to take residents to doctor appointments.  Glen Eddy also has its own transportation for residents.  

542006_20424_0.png, quoted from the SEQR handbook and stated that the Reist Preserve and Hummingbird Manor will be impacted by this project.  Only a full EIS will tell us what the Town needs to know.  He felt there are also some clues that may trigger the need for archeological testing since Consaul Road is one of two historic roads in the Town. He felt that the new facility will be inferior to the old facility as far as outdoor space for residents.

542006_20424_0.png has worked as a Certified Home Health Aide and stated that most seniors would rather remain in their own home which is less expensive and more humane.  The proposed project understates the will of George Ingersoll with its 4 acres of 74 beds rather than the 5 acres with 60 beds and it is also not on a public transportation route. She described how the project would disrupt the wetlands and wild areas, requested a SEQR review, and asked the Board for to preserve this area.

542006_20424_0.png, expressed concern on the impact of this project on their house located next to the project.  Lighting disturbance, buffer zones, fencing, garbage trucks, deliveries, and traffic are of concern.  A recent Saturday morning counted 140 cars in a 15 minute period (which does not count traffic up Consaul Road from Colonie turning into Mohawk Commons) and she has not heard any mention of a traffic study tonight.  
Due to Glen Eddy, ambulances are on Consaul Road three to five times per week this project will bring more ambulance noise.  A petition against the previous condo proposal garnered 90 signatures which was less square footage than this proposal.  They are concerned there will be vacant land between their home and the project, which contains no buffer (trees were cut for sewers).  They asked the Board for their consideration of their needs and any help would be appreciated.

542006_20424_0.png, was informed by the Town Planner, Kathy Matern, that no response has been heard from the Stanford Heights Fire House who was contacted about this project on January 13, 2006.
Ms. Lester stated that George Ingersoll ordered his trustees to “purchase a plot of ground not less than five acres which had street surface railway service to be located in the County of Schenectady not more than two miles from the city limits…..”  It’s mission was to provide a home for aged men 50 years and older, residents of the County of Schenectady five years previous to applying for admission, and of unfortunate circumstances having been rendered been incapable of taking care of themselves.  
In 2006 a new set of trustees wants to expand their oversight of a new home to be located on a four acre plot on Consaul Road for which zoning allows only 60 beds.  The ZBA has granted three variances. She feels that surely the trustees know the initial mission and she urged the Town Board not to support the Special Use Permit.  Nursing homes are closing down because they cannot succeed.

542006_20424_0.png, read a letter from Carol McCarthy, one of the owners of the Ties Farm at 3761 Consaul Road who owned the land where The Eddy is now located.  Ms. McCarthy is concerned about the proposed 74-bed facility being located on the historic Consaul Road. She feels that Consaul Road is truly a country road and it doesn’t seem logical to squeeze a three-shift 74-bed facility on to a four-acre site and overburden the roadway, the country environment, wildlife, and the Hummingbird Preserve.  The proposed site is much too small and it dangerously encroaches on the Hummingbird Preserve that supports the wildlife of the Reist Preserve.  We do not need another Walgreens, WalMart or CVS.  We need a little more beauty, peace, and serenity.
        Ms. Champagne also noted recent news about financial difficulties at nursing and adult homes.  She distributed an article stating that these types of facilities are closing and other types of facilities are taking their place.  The developer has stated that this home will have a “memory impaired section.” Supervisor Smith stated that the Department of Health will have to address these since they will issue the permit.  
Ms. Champagne sited various documents from New York State and she felt that the future will include issuing waivers so patients could choose where they received services and lowers costs.  She distributed letters from the lawyer for Friends of Stanford Home, who asked that the problem of segmentation and cumulative effect be addressed.  She felt that this public hearing addressed maintaining the current Ingersoll Home because in order to build this facility they must sell land and assets at their current location.  She wondered what process the Board has to assure that this is not a half empty facility.  She is against this because it is a bad plan.

        542006_20424_0.png, stated that if there is a memory impaired addition they will need extreme security and she felt it might be cheaper in the long run to build more bathrooms at the current location.  This will be an enormous building and with other projects before the Board for PUD’s, etc. adds to the traffic and loss of serenity that will be lost on Consaul Road.  The building is huge compared to the site.  Currently, the Schenectady County home is exploring combining with Albany County nursing home.  Why would we be moving ahead when there are so many intelligent, knowledgeable, environmental people who see that this is not the right for this site.  She asked the Board to hold their opinion or deny this project.

        542006_20424_0.png, owns property to the right of the proposed site.  He expressed concern that this huge facility, surrounded by single family homes, does not fit in.  Neighbors do not want it and it will be an eye sore and he felt the Board should be looking out at for the neighborhoods.  Runoff in the winter with so much pavement and salt will go into the retention basin next to his property which filters back into the wetlands.  Garbage trucks will add noise, and 24 hour lighting of the property will affect the neighborhood.  

        The minutes of meetings of February 7 and February 28 were approved as presented.


        542006_20424_0.png, read a statement in opposition to the paving of a path in River Road Park.  She felt paving would change the nature of the park; will make it impossible to ski or snow shoe unless there is deep snow; it is an impermeable surface that we do not need; and by fragmenting the area we reduce the habitat available to wildlife and decrease the likelihood that they will remain.
        She believes decisions about park management need to be made in the context of the whole park and all of its users, not just one group with a good idea.   She finds no economic, ecological or social argument that would favor paving the park over gravel paths and she believes that the needs of all park users can be met without laying any pavement.  She would like to see resident participation when plans with long-term implication are made.  Developing a park management plan with public input would be one way to do that.

        542006_20424_0.png, stated that everyone knows that any proposal to develop the presently occupied Ingersoll site and the new site proposed are related.  He pointed out certain SEQR requirements that he felt pertained to this project.    

        542006_20424_0.png, urged the Board to reconsider paving parts of River Road Park.  He found the paving to be objectionable because it is an unnecessary expenditure of Town resources; it is detrimental to the multiple recreation and resource uses of the park; and it demonstrates that the Town is not using its own resources and trying hard enough to find creative solutions.   
        He understood the paving was part of the “Safe Routes” Program which encourages walking and biking to schools and enhancing connectivity through Niskayuna.  He supports this program, but he is not in support of its application through River Road Park.  He was not aware that pavement was part of the Safe Routes proposal and he does not think it is necessary in this particular incidence.  The work would increase the footprint of the path by 50% to 150% and will create an impermeable ribbon through the park.  A majority of the trails are already accessible and safe to bike or walk and the remaining connecting corridor path to the schools could easily be upgraded without pavement.  Pavement may not be an appropriate solution due to the wetlands.  
        Bicyclists already use the park regularly.  With adequately maintained woodland trails the park can serve the bicycling community in its current form.  The park provides one of the few mountain bike opportunities in the Town.  The plan is to plow the paved path so that bicycles can be ridden to school.  He is doubtful that students or seniors will use this route in the winter but he is confident that the experience of those who snow shoe and skiers will be degraded.  
From an ecologists perspective proliferation of pavement is one of the most significant factors altering the ecological function and services that open space provide.  There is a known threshold between 15-25% where it becomes radical degradation of aquatic resources that is a direct result of impervious surfaces.  This can cause increased flooding, stream back erosion, loss of fish and aquatic life, etc.
        River Road Park is the largest Town Park and it is the only one with any appreciable natural area.  It contains a wetland complex and the paths cross several wetland areas.  These areas are very important to the wildlife and to the use of the park for people and the natural resources.  The Army Corp has confirmed that there are wetlands and the Town needed to file the appropriate papers.  He noted consequences of pavement such as basement flooding; and wildlife effects.  He suggested there are many alternatives and types of paths that could be put through the wetlands such as gravel or crushed stone.

        William Hendricks, Chairman of Planning Board, stated that he was glad the Town has a good system where the elected Town Board is charged with issuing the Special Use Permit.  Regarding Consaul Road, the Planning Board looks at the individual property, the Zoning Board looked at variance issues; and the Conservation Advisory Board has given the Board their recommendation. In Niskayuna, every non-residential use in Town butts up against a residential use.
        The minutes of the meetings of February 7 and February 28 were approved as presented.

        The following resolutions were approved with a vote of five ayes, unless otherwise noted.
        Resolution 2006-68 authorizes William Parkis, Edward Oliveri, and Kevin Hart to attend the Training & Certification of Backflow Prevention Device Inspectors Conference held April 25028, 2006 at a cost of $720.

        Resolution 2006-69 authorizes the purchase of a network file server with backup software from Dell Computer at a total cost not to exceed $10,500.

        Resolution 2006-70 waives the grade requirement on Homestead Place at Antonio Park, Section 9 and accepts the road u9on an offer of dedication by the developer.

        Resolution 2006-71 authorizes advertising for bids for the purchase of an asphalt patch roller for the Highway Department.

        Resolution 2006-72 authorizes the replacement of flooring at the Highway Garage from Schenectady Flooring for a total cost not to exceed $3,500.

        Resolution 2006-73 authorizes the purchase of grass seed and fertilizer to be used in the Highway and Park operating during 2006 construction season from Merritt Seed and Turf Links.

        Resolution 2006-74 authorizes the Supervisor to retain the serves of Able Body Labor to provide temporary seasonal laborers on an as-needed basis, at a cost of $13.75 per hour.

        Resolution 2006-75 authorizes the Supervisor to enter into an agreement with Chazen Companies to design an oil/water separator wash bay to be located at the Highway garage at a total cost not to exceed $3,500.

        Resolution 2006-76 accepts a bid for a six passenger crew cab dump truck for use by the Highway Department from Arroway Chevrolet, at a total cost of $42,400.

        Resolution 2006-77 authorizes the Supervisor to enter into an agreement for professional services with Transportation Concepts to perform a traffic flow analysis on Oakmont Street at a total cost not to exceed $2,400.  The resolution was approved with a vote of four ayes, Councilman Chapman voting no.
        There being no further business to come before the meeting, Supervisor Smith adjourned the meeting.

                                Helen F. Kopke, Town Clerk

One Niskayuna Circle, Niskayuna, NY 12309
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