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Rotterdam Town Board grants zoning change

Apartment complex moves forward in approval process

Initial steps towards redeveloping the parcel of land off North Thompson Street in Rotterdam began Wednesday, July 14, when the Town Board granted the zoning change for a 248-unit apartment complex.

Board members, except for Gerard Parisi, who was absent, unanimously passed the zoning change to start the site review process of the planning board. This land was also the site of the purposed Wal-Mart supercenter, which never came to flourish.

The 71.8 acres of land was zoned as heavy industrial and general business, but is now changed to planned residential development and general business. Along with the 248-unit apartment complex, Timothy Larned and Maria Esposito plan for 20,000 square feet for commercial usage, relocating existing baseball fields and creating permanent open space for passive recreation.

I think that this planned development is probably the best use for this property, said Ron Severson, chairman of Rotterdam's park and recreation commission. "Otherwise this piece of land is just going to sit there for another 20, 40, 100 years."

Andrew Brick, attorney for the developers, said the town's sewage treatment plant currently holds the capacity for the project, which was a concern of some board members and the planning commission.

Reservations about the project were expressed by board members, such as the high density of the apartment complex on the former Rotterdam Republican Club's land and if emergency vehicles can efficiently navigate through the complex.

"There were some very hesitant people on the [planning] commission, because they felt 248 apartments were a little to dense for the area," said resident Karen Malaczynski. "They also felt a little rushed because of the construction of the ball fields."

The Rotterdam Little League will receive four new ball fields from land purchased from Larned, as previously agreed upon, to establish a permanent location instead of leasing the current fields. Also, areas the town will purchase for light recreation are mainly parcels of wetlands, used for activities such as bird watching, said Brick.

The strip of commercial development is meant to compliment the ball fields and apartment complex. Brick mentioned a pizza place and an ice cream shop as planned usage of the strip.

Board members made clear the zone change wouldn't allow for development to begin.

"This change of zone is for non-project actions," said Robert Godlewski, Rotterdam deputy supervisor. "Any further actions will require approval form the Rotterdam Town Planning Board.""

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