Planning Board votes to downsize housing development

PHOTOGRAPHER: ARTIST'S RENDERINGPHOTOGRAPHER: ARTIST'S RENDERING

By Kassie Parisi

Gazette Reporter

CLIFTON PARK — After hours of discussion, the Clifton Park Planning Board voted by a slim margin Tuesday to recommend that the Town Board approve scaled-down plans for an apartment project off Route 146A.

The project developer, 146A Holdings LLC, wanted to build 34 single-family homes on a 56-acre parcel a half-mile north of the intersection of routes 146A and 146. The planning board’s recommendation was that the Town Board only allow 31 homes to be built.

The property’s zoning allows just 17 homes to be built on the space, but the town’s open space incentive zoning law, which is meant to preserve natural areas in town, allows developers with plans for the western part of town to seek greater building densities in exchange for permanent land conservation or cash payments that the town would put into a fund specifically for open space preservation.

The town requested an opinion from the Planning Board on the project in early March.

The developer has proposed setting aside approximately 51 acres off 216 Sugar Hill Road to be permanently conserved in exchange for the project’s greater building density.

The proposed single-family homes would most likely encompass between 3,000 and 4,000 square feet of living space, said Scott Lansing, the project’s engineer.

But at the last minute, after hearing concerns from residents about the density coupled with other large apartment complexes in the area, the planning board voted to pass a recommendation that only 31 homes be permitted.

The Planning Board passed the recommendation in a vote of four to three. Members Jeff Jones, Andy Neubauer, Denise Bagramian, and Greg Szczesny voted in favor of the resolution.

Planning Board Chairman Rocky Ferraro, and board members Emad Anadarawis and Eric Ophardt opposed the resolution, noting they were comfortable with granting the allowance for 34 homes.

At the meeting, residents from nearby neighborhoods implored board members to consider how allowing non-zoned density levels would affect their communities.

Noreen Grimmick, who spoke on behalf of other Dawson Lane residents, expressed concern that the new development, especially with 34 homes, would disrupt and change the character of her neighborhood, as well as add unnecessary traffic to the area.

Grimmick has lived on Dawson Lane for 14 years. Throughout that time, she said, families have moved in with young children, most of whom play outside or ride their bikes in the road.

“We do not want this extra traffic in our development. It will change the character of our neighborhood. It will change the character of our community,” she said.

Warren Nelson, of Stratford Court, lives across from the proposed entrance to the development.

He noted that while the traffic from the new development alone would add to traffic backups, the more important issue is the other apartments being proposed in the nearby area and the long-term impact they will all have on the area.

Along with the Route 146A proposal, developer Vince Riggi is hoping to build 79 homes on the nearby Miller Road, and developer Scott Earl is seeking to build more than 100 condo units at the intersection of routes 146 and 146A.

“I realize that this, by itself, isn’t that bad. I could almost live with this,” Nelson said of the 146A Holdings proposal. “But when you look at the totality of what’s being proposed over the next couple of years, that’s a lot of traffic.”

After it receives the written recommendation from the planning board, the Town Board will host a public hearing about the project. After that, the town has an unlimited amount of time to decide whether to grant the incentive zoning increase.

The Town Board also is not constrained by the number noted in the Planning Board’s recommendation and can approve up to the 34 homes that 146A Holdings is seeking.