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Apartments on the rise in Bethlehem

Developers have moved away from the single-family homes

— Members of the Bethlehem Town Board are studying the town’s housing makeup to consider whether it would be more prudent to approve housing developments in the planning process as outlined in the town’s Comprehensive Plan, or to advocate for more open space.

As more housing developments come before the Town Board, town staff were recently asked to provide an update on all of the projects that have been developed or introduced since the Comprehensive Plan was adopted in 2005. The plan calls for diversified housing options within the town, other than single-family homes, but some board members have noticed developers are using that statement as the main justification for construction of apartments or condominiums.

“We want to make sure these developments will still be needed in the future,” said Councilwoman Joann Dawson.

Town officials are currently updating the town’s Comprehensive Plan. The most recent major projects to come before the board include Delmar Pointe, a townhome development to potentially be built along Delaware Avenue, and Wemple Corners, a mixed-use development targeted for the corner of Wemple Road and Route 9W.

Deputy Town Planner Rob Leslie presented the board with a summery of the projects and current building trends at a Town Board meeting on Wednesday, May 22.

Leslie said according to the latest housing data from the American Community Survey, from 2007 to 2011, about 70 percent of all housing units within the town are single-family homes. About another 23 percent are apartment-style units, while about 6.5 percent are single-family attached units, or condos. Compared to other towns in the Capital District, this mix of housing is seen as “moderate.”

Since 2005, a total of 577 housing units have been approved for construction within the town, with the largest growth in the apartments category. Leslie said 340 apartment units have been built or are now under construction within Hamlet-zoned districts. Also, about 69 percent of those apartments are being built south of the Delmar Bypass.

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