ZBA says no to Afrim’s

Rezoning request for soccer park is denied

— The Town of Colonie Zoning Board voted to not rezone the property next to the Memory Garden where Afrim Nezaj hoped to build a sports complex.

On Thursday, March 6, after seven months of deliberation, the zoning board voted against the rezone, saying it didn’t meet the requirements needed for the board to reclassify it.

“I’m very disappointed because the things that seem to have been emotional, things that were important to Memory Gardens, it seems every one of those on the board were happy. We weren’t going to be noisy, the topography of the land was perfect for the use, they liked the use and they wouldn’t change the neighborhood. They went through those three points, and the one point I thought was the least important — the uniqueness of the land — that’s what tied their hands,” said Nezaj.

Afrim’s Sports, Inc., which is owned by Nezaj, applied to have property Nezaj hoped to purchase at 969 Watervliet Shaker Road rezoned to an amusement area. Currently it is classified commercial office, which does not allow for Nezaj to build a proposed sports complex that would include an 86,865-square-foot dome, four soccer fields, a 3,400-square-foot multi-use building and a parking lot with 377 parking spaces.

Of the four criteria that the complex had to meet to for the zoning board to approve the reclassification, the board only agreed on one. The board agreed five to one that the project would not alter the character of the neighborhood. The other three requirements were that Nezaj had to prove there is an issue of hardship, the property is unique and they could not get a reasonable return on the property. The board voted unanimously on the three decisions.

“The concept and the idea of this and what it could do for the students, the children and adults in the community has a place. I think that’s a great idea,” said board member David Rosenthal. “Our hands are tied with it. I wish we could go through with it.”

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