NISKAYUNA: Building halt gains ground

Calls for a building moratorium in Niskayuna gained support this week as three Democratic candidates for seats on the town board offered their backing for the idea. Under the proposal, the moratorium would put a temporary halt to new construction in town and give local officials an opportunity to draft additional zoning rules designed to protect historical and environmental treasures from being disturbed.

"Over the past few weeks, many residents of Niskayuna have expressed concerns to me about the issues of growth and development in the town," said Joe Landry, the Democratic candidate for town supervisor, in response to a questionnaire submitted by local activists. "I have listened to these concerns, and I believe that a limited building moratorium may be one way of re-evaluating the unique aspects of our community, and assuring that future development is in accord with the views of the town's residents."

The idea received a cooler reception on the other side of the aisle with Republicans declining to make a firm commitment. Instead, they pointed to a series of broader "leadership themes" that would set the tone if they were elected in November. Topping their list is concern that Niskayuna needs a greater "diversity of ideas and dialogue" in town government. They also pledge to hold community forums with residents throughout Niskayuna.

"I would like to hear some information and advice on the issue before making a commitment to something as important as a moratorium," said J. Briggs McAndrews, the GOP's candidate for town supervisor. "From my understanding, it is usually necessary to have a strong causative action take place before a town adopts something like that."

The split over a moratorium comes as each side in the upcoming town wide election is jockeying for position in a campaign that will determine control of the five-member town board. The board has the sole authority to establish local zoning regulations and plays a central role in addressing development issues in Niskayuna. In recent months, critics have blasted the current administration, claiming it is too close to developers intent on building a multi-million dollar strip mall on the 12.5-acre site used by the Ingersoll Home for the Aged.

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