A key hurdle was cleared Monday night when Niskayuna's planning board voted in favor of commercially developing a 12.5-acre lot that's been home to one of the area's best-known historic buildings for more than two centuries.
The 5-to-2 vote by the board came after critics lambasted plans to develop much of the land and move the original Ingersoll Home for the Elderly away from the heavily traveled intersection of State Street and Balltown Road.
The controversial project is highlighted by the construction of a retail strip on what is now a mostly wooded lot across the street from Mohawk Commons. Residents of the existing 33-bed nursing home will be moved to a new location at 3359 Consaul Road. The town board narrowly approved using that site for the nursing facility by a 3-to-2 vote earlier this year.
Under terms of the special-use permit recommended by the planning board on Monday, a complete environmental impact study will have to be done before Highbridge Development LLC can move forward with putting a shopping center on the State Street property. The impact of the additional retail space on traffic and noise levels in the surrounding neighborhood must be included in the study, planning board members said.
The study will give us more facts, said planning board member Carol Marotta. The added information will enable town officials to more effectively monitor developer's activities and help protect local residents from any adverse impacts resulting from the project. The land, which is at one of the most heavily traveled intersections in Niskayuna, is currently zoned commercial, and the addition of retail stores fits within that zoning, Marotta added.
Moving the historic Ingersoll Home to a different portion of the commercial lot is a key element of the development Highbridge is seeking. After stripping the structure of additions that have been made during its many years as a nursing home, the developers said they plan to relocate the structure and convert it into a restaurant.