Bethlehem planning board scrutinizes highway housing

As the newly restructured Bethlehem Planning Board rolls up its sleeves for 2009 projects, one development proposed last year has caught the attention of some of its members.

Legends at Bethlehem is a proposed 137-unit development containing single-family homes at the end of Jolly and Glenmont roads. Developers are asking the town for a planned development district in order to start the project that borders the state's Thruway.

A healthy discussion ensued after the issue of its proximity to the highway piqued the interest of some Planning Board members, according to Director of Economic Development and Planning Michael Morelli.

"It was a good discussion; it was a professional discussion," Morelli said. "The board is doing its due diligence by debating these proposals and giving its input."

Project planners have already applied to the Town Board for a PDD and the board deferred to the planning board for a recommendation. The planning board last heard the proposal in July and now has to make a recommendation to the town board, which will either grant or deny the Legends PDD.

The planning board also has to make a recommendation on the project's environmental review. The site is currently zoned Residential-A, according to Morelli, but needs to be rezoned by the Town Board to allow for the project's density.

Board member Katie Powers said she liked the project but was concerned about the row of houses slated to be built about 200 feet from the Thruway.

"The developers of this project appear to be responsible overall, and I want their project to succeed," Powers said. "However, the effects of prolonged exposure to high noise and carbon monoxide levels from the nearby highway needs to be investigated particularly where, as here, the properties will be marketed to seniors and families with young children."

Morelli said developers have been cooperative with the town throughout the process. He said at one point, developers discussed the possibility of townhouses but decided on the "more traditional" single-family homes.

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