Colonie looks to streamline smaller development process

The Colonie Town Board unanimously passed a law meant to streamline minor development and encourage developers to occupy vacant lots in the town at a Feb. 3 meeting.

The resolution adopted several laws to amend the Land Use Law of the town code would include the ability for the town to streamline the development process for minor projects.

The law would only apply to commercial developments, said Town Spokesperson Sara Wiest. But there would be three criteria that must be met to apply to skip over going in front of the planning board and start working with the Planning and Economic Development Department.

First, the lot would have to be less than 1 acre. If there are changes being made to the property, it could only be plans for an addition or other site changes other than demolition. The building would also have to have been occupied in the last 10 years so the department could assume that the water and sewage lines were up to code.

The idea is, if it's a building that's been vacant for 20 or 30 years, who knows what condition the water or sewer lines are in, said Wiest. "If it's a commercial building that hasn't been used for five year, to a degree you can assume everything is up to code."

While this process would allow a developer to essentially go past the planning board, Planning and Economic Development Department Director Joe LaCivita ensures surrounding neighbors and neighborhood associations would be kept in the loop of what's going on.

He added that developers will be encouraged to engage with neighborhood associations.

"It will be a criterion," he said. "When it comes time for governing departments to make approvals, that's what we'll look for. We'll look to see if we get something in writing from the neighborhood association."

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