NISKAYUNA: Comp plan eyed

Faced with a limited amount of open space and financial pressure to grow the local tax base, Niskayuna residents could gain from a re-examination of the town's existing comprehensive plan. That view is gaining support from at least one candidate for a seat on the town board and a longtime incumbent who serves on the committee that oversees the comprehensive plan.

With everything that is going on in the way of development throughout the town, we need to take a look at the comprehensive plan and see if it can be revised to do more to protect open space, said Mark Stuart, a Republican seeking a seat on the town board. Any changes in the plan should also be geared toward encouraging the type of economic development that would not have an adverse impact upon existing residential neighborhoods, Stuart said.

"I've talked to a lot of residents in the Consaul Road area about everything that is happening over there, and I know they are very concerned," Stuart said. "We really need to look at doing a separate generic environmental impact study for that area to make sure that future economic development doesn't harm the quality of life for the homeowners and residents in the community."

The most recent overhaul of the town's comprehensive plan led to substantial changes in local zoning regulations and was completed in 2003, according to town board member Bill Chapman. Since then, Niskayuna has included language in the comprehensive plan that encourages the availability of safe routes, such as bicycle trails and pedestrian pathways, with the goal of making it possible for residents to conveniently traverse the entire town without ever using a car.

"Niskayuna has a history of looking at our comprehensive plan about every 10 years and updating and revising zoning throughout the town," said Chapman, the town board's representative on the comprehensive plan committee. "But I don't think there would be anything wrong with beginning a process this year that would carry over into next year as long as residents are given an opportunity to have input into what they want the future of the town to look like.

"I've also recommended a limited one-year moratorium that would preserve the historic sites in the town listed on the inventories we did in 1975 and 1985," Chapman said. "That would give us time to develop additional zoning to preserve places like the Ingersoll Home for the Aged that are so important to our local history.""

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