Rotterdam residents air land-use thoughts

More than 30 Rotterdam residents attended the first of what will be several public work sessions in Rotterdam Junction on Wednesday, Dec. 6, to voice concerns about traffic on Route 5S, an unsafe bike crossing, and other issues in regard to a land use and transportation study of an area south of Thruway Exit 26.

What we decide to do here is really going to shape what happens in the future, said Town Planner Peter Commenzo, who reminded the crowd that the project was still in its earliest phase.

The study area consists of a mix of commercial, residential, industrial use and undeveloped land from the Interstate 890 exit to the intersection of Mabie Lane at Route 5S. According to Wilbur Smith Associates, the transportation and infrastructure consulting firm hired to study the area, 355 acres of the undeveloped land in the area could be developed, especially after an extension of public water to Rotterdam Junction in 2004. Potentially, the area could hold approximately 165 residential units and 1.75 million square feet of industrial use, said Jim Donovan, a senior landscape architect leading the project.

With the assistance of funding from the Capital District Transportation Committee, Rotterdam retained Wilbur Smith Associates to help refine the town's vision of increased development.

"We want to hear what you, the residents, think about how this land should be used," said Donovan. "That's why we're having this meeting here in Rotterdam Junction."

The reactions to Donovan's question were mixed.

"Most of Rotterdam is developed already," said Brian Slezak, a Rotterdam Junction resident. "The western end, where I live, is a pristine, cultural and historical part of town, and the planners should shed light on that. There's nothing wrong with doing nothing to this area."

Others were more open to future development, but wanted some sort of assurance by planners that Rotterdam Junction residents would have more say than people living in other parts of the town.

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