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Zoning Board approves new Westmere firehouse

Referendum will be brought before voters

On Wednesday, Feb. 17, the Westmere Fire District received Zoning Board approval to build a new firehouse in place of its current firehouse at 1741 Western Ave.

The project has also been met with approval from town officials, but the public has been quiet on the issue.

Zoning Board approval was the last major hurdle for the $5.74 million project before residents will be given the opportunity to vote on authorizing the district to issue a $5.27 million bond to cover the majority of the costs of building the new firehouse. The referendum is scheduled for Tuesday, March 23, at the current firehouse. The remainder of the costs associated with the construction of the firehouse will come from the district's reserve fund.

According to the district, the estimated tax levy to cover the cost of the bond will be $0.24 per $1,000 of assessed value, or $47.27 on a property valued at $200,000.

The district received approval from the town's Planning Board at its Wednesday, Jan. 27, meeting. However, the Zoning Board could not vote on the measure at its Wednesday, Feb. 3, meeting due to a procedural requirement stating that it must first be considered by the Albany County Planning Board.

The Albany County Planning Board considered the measure just before the Wednesday meeting of the Zoning Board.

We received an e-mail from Leslie Lombardo, senior planner at the Albany County Planning Board, indicating that they are deferring to local consideration on the referral, said Peter Barber, chairman of the Zoning Board.

Skip Francis, of CT Male, the designer of the new firehouse, said a number of additions have made to the design of the firehouse since the last meeting of the Zoning Board.

"We enhanced pedestrian improvements along the front, along Western Ave," said Francis. He said the design included a stamped-asphalt walkway for pedestrians in front of the firehouse.

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