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Slow movement on housing developments

The Bethlehem Town Board will be the next body to review a draft scoping document regarding the proposed Wemple Corners hamlet project.

On Tuesday, Nov. 15, members of the town’s Planning Board listened to a presentation from an outside consultant from the Chazen Companies regarding the document.

Common issues were discussed regarding the multi-use project, including traffic impacts, the need for apartments in the town and to what extent the developer of the project should study such matters.

Board member John Smolinsky said he’d like to see more forceful language in a final scoping document to ensure that developers provide the best information – possibly their own study -- regarding the need for housing and apartment units in the Glenmont area.

“Sometimes it depends how hard you look,” said Smolinsky, who was concerned about a phrase in the document calling for the “best available analysis.”

“Bring forth the best analysis that you can of the housing market, why there’s a demand,” he said.

That demand, and more importantly, how to measure if it exists, was debated between the developer and the board. Andy Brick, the attorney for developer Milltowne Plaza, said he was concerned about the quantity of specific studies to measure housing demands for the town.

“I strongly suspect that we can find regional studies, but I took that language (in the draft scoping document) to mean that if there is sufficient data specifically for Bethlehem, then we would provide that analysis,” said Brick. “If that data exists, I don’t know that it does, but we would gladly do that analysis.”

Board members stressed that a market study would need to be conducted, but it would not need to include an analysis of housing needs throughout the town.

The proposed project would include 526 housing units, including senior apartments and twin homes, along with 84,000 square feet of retail space, and would be located at the corner of Wemple Road and Route 9W.

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