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Developers push for Wemple projects

Developers are showing plenty of interest in projects at the corner of Route 9W and Wemple Road in the Glenmont area. The question, though, is how to make it all possible.

Engineers working with Gordon Development, the company attempting to build 95 apartment units at the intersection, spoke about their plans at an Oct. 20 meeting of the Town of Bethlehem’s Development Planning Committee. The one, two, and three-bedroom apartments would be similar to the company’s residential units on Hague Boulevard. Initial plans call for a clubhouse structure to be built as part of the complex, and for two access roads to connect to Wemple Road.

The proposal is smaller than the Wemple Corners project, a development that as proposed would include 470 apartment units, 56 twin homes, and 145,000 square feet of commercial space. Developers for Wemple Corners have also proposed a one-lane roundabout at the intersection of Wemple Road and Route 9W. At a recent public hearing regarding the environmental review of the project, residents expressed concern over the number of apartment complexes in the town of Bethlehem.

Bethlehem Assistant Town Engineer Terry Ritz said there has been plenty of interest in building apartment complexes in the town in recent years.

“In the 2005 comprehensive plan, the town wanted diversity in housing. Lately, we’ve gotten a lot of projects before the Planning Board for apartments. I’m sure the town will be looking at the comprehensive plan to see if it needs to be adjusted,” said Ritz.

With two significant projects proposed at the same intersection, town officials are concerned about many factors. One raised at the DPC meeting by Michael Morelli, the town’s Director of Economic Development and Planning, was the timing of the projects, as well as the need for infrastructure improvements in the area.

Committee members discussed the need for a full depth re-build of Wemple Road due to an expected increase in traffic. That type of work would include reconstruction of the roadway, along with the installation of sidewalks, as the town attempts to follow its own Complete Streets policy adopted in 2009. The policy calls for bicyclists and pedestrians to be considered equally whenever the town undertakes street reconstruction or new construction.

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RichardReevesEllington 2 years, 10 months ago

AS the planning board and subsequently, the town board look at expanding apartment development, there are three considerations for citizens to ponder: are there going to be tax breaks and if so how much and for how long? What are the infrastructure costs that the town might incur, including water and sewer, road construction and later costs, police costs: Finally, what do all these apartments mean for Bethlehem sense of community?

Mr Clarkson tells us they are good for the tax base, but are they? He says that they will keep seniors who want to downsize in Bethlehem. But will they? Most are not handicap friendly. He finally says that young people will move here and then buy. After visiting three of these developments, I find most younger people are not interested in home ownership. Many have been burnt and only want to "own nothing". We need some major citizen inputs into this issue.

For more please seen my website bethlehemsupervisor.com. If you want to have active citizen participation, vote for Richard Reeves-Ellington for Bethlehem Town Supervisor.

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