Residents have voiced their concerns about a proposal to further develop New Scotland Road by the Windsor Companies.
Representatives of the developer attended the town’s final community Town Hall meeting on Thursday, June 11, to discuss the project. With about 30 residents at the meeting, some felt the meeting wasn’t publicized enough to allow more neighbors to attend.
“This is just the first step in the process,” said Supervisor John Clarkson to the audience. “Nothing has been approved and there will be many more meetings like this … This is far prior to anything that is legally required.”
Dave Sussman from Windsor Development said the company itself plans to hold at least two workshops to collect input from residents.
A main concern for those at the meeting was traffic. Many said construction of the Delmar By-pass was supposed to divert traffic from neighborhood roads, but instead drivers take New Scotland Road as a shortcut to the next roundabout. Sussman said the new development should ease some of those problems because it will be more pedestrian friendly, with crosswalks and signage, so drivers should want to lower their speed.
Many did not feel this will be the case. They also felt it will increase the number of delivery trucks that would need to take the road, and the turning lanes into Price Chopper Plaza should be reconfigured.
“I have questions about the restrictions of a hamlet, “ said one resident. “Like a four-story building versus a two-story building, building near the street versus set back, ruining the community in general.”
Director of Economic Development and Planning said traffic studies would need to be submitted by the company, and the town would hire an independent consultant to then verify the reports. The project is part of 2006 charette attended by property owners, developers, residents and town officials. About 100 people participated in three different sessions. At the time, it was determined the area should be turned into a pedestrian-friendly hamlet, with small shops and eateries.
The project would be an extension of The Hamlet housing development already built on New Scotland Road last year. The next two phases of development would include mixed-use retail and commercial buildings below apartments and luxury residential units. The development would be built on the corner of New Scotland and Maher roads.
The town previously asked Windsor to present on the next phases of the project because Town Board members would need to approve either a new overlay zone in the area, or create a planned hamlet district. An area variance has already been approved by the town’s Zoning Board because of the height of the project, while the second phases is now under review by the town’s Planning Board.
The first phase of The Hamlet, which has already been built, included 50 rental homes. The second phase would be four buildings, four stories high with 92 rental units and 7,000 square feet of rental and commercial space on the bottom floor. The third phase would have an additional 250 rental units, an enclosed garage and 15,000 square feet of retail and commercial space. The entire development would include a pool for residents and about 7,000 square feet of flex space for meetings or those who may wish to rent office space below their apartments.
Sussman said Windsor is entering into purchase agreements, or had already purchased, the homes and properties along that patch of land.
The developers said rent for the retail space would be below market rates because they want to attract small businesses that are able to survive. The plans call for between six or 10 small shops to be included in the third phase, with suggestions like a cafe, yoga studio and boutiques. The site will also have a pedestrian network for residents and shoppers to easily access the entire site, from Price Chopper Plaza to Maher Road.
Development of the third phase of the project would need future Town Board approval for a change of the area’s zoning.
Clarkson later said the meeting provided an opportunity to hear from residents about the proposal, clearly many in attendance were not supportive of the height and scale of the proposal.
“Many also felt that it did not match their expectations from the earlier visioning process — for example, some wanted to see more public space and a more modest, scaled back proposal,” Clarkson said. “We want to see a proposal that residents support, and the workshops and other meetings to come are an opportunity to air their concerns and help shape the proposal.”
To learn more, visit www.townofbethlehem.org/708/New-Scotland-Road-Hamlet.