Ingalls & Associates hope to transform this scene across from Wemple Road into a townhouse apartment complex. However, the Town of Bethlehem Planning Board seeks additional revisions to the proposal before approving the project. Michael Hallisey / Spotlight News
#WempleRoadApartments #BethlehemPlanningBoard #DiegoCagara #SpotlightNews
By DIEGO CAGARA
GLENMONT — During its July 17 meeting, the Planning Board requested additional revisions to a proposed 96-unit apartment complex that would be located on the north region of Wemple Road and around 600 feet west of Route 9W. The complex would take up 30.18 acres in area, as part of a larger region of 37.78 acres.
The Wemple Road Apartments proposal comprises of nine, four-unit buildings and ten, six-unit buildings, all designed like townhouses. These would cater to people looking to rent in higher-end, condo-type apartments. These are all rental and have no age restrictions.
What currently lies on the proposed site is a corn and agricultural field, which was wide open and still contains much tree growth. It was commented during the board meeting that “a whole treeline [would] need to be torn down for water and sewer lines and multi-use paths” for the complex.
In a community where school enrollment has fallen while property development has risen, there is some concern about whether this complex would truly strengthen the local community. Concerns included how the townhouse-style apartments may not necessarily attract families and are designed more for upper-middle class urban professionals, for instance.
Board members spoke about how the overall designs of the buildings, planting, roadwork and orientation could be improved. They also looked into the recent reports and evaluations to see whether the complex would benefit the community in regards to traffic and functionality.
David Ingalls of Ingalls & Associates appeared before the board to discuss the designs’ recent revisions and acknowledged how concerned residents’ and board members’ comments were considered when continuing to finalize the designs.
The proposal was recently found to meet guidelines under the Bike and Pedestrian Priority Network and Zoning Law of the Route 9W Corridor Design Guidelines, that dictate it can efficiently serve pedestrians and cyclists. There was a request to have a 33-feet right of way for the complex’s residents that would complement a multi-use path, sewer and water lines.
The New York state Department of Environmental Conservation had granted construction to happen within the state and federal wetlands there, which are present along the planned property. A multi-use path located by the wetlands there would cost an estimated $44,140, which would stretch from the intersection of Wemple Road and Route 9W, to the west side of the apartment complex.
Furthermore, Creighton Manning Engineering (CME) evaluated that future driving residents would use the Route 9W intersection 80 percent of the time whenever they would leave the proposed complex. While it would also lead to increased traffic around the area, it was determined the intersection would greatly accommodate the expected traffic around the complex.
Roads expected to be heavily used by future residents there include Route 9W and Bender Lane; Elsmere Avenue; and Feura Bush, Glenmont, Wemple, Jericho and Clapper roads.
In terms of architecture, there was concern among board members the complex would look just like a long line of garages, which was not as visually appealing as they’d hoped. Suggesting that the garage doors for cars be relegated away from the front of the buildings, they also requested different designs, wanting the complex to look more “homelike.”
The board also acknowledged the complex currently has no plans for any internal amenities like clubhouses or swimming pools, something they felt would limit the residents from becoming a true community. For a better chance of residents interacting with one another, they suggested designing more benches, open space and areas where more trees and plants can grow.
Regarding the latter, they recommended some deciduous trees and more types of trees of varying size to be planted within and surrounding the complex, to make the complex and living experience there more visually appealing.
“Between the buildings, there might be some options … that could be beneficial for the community and to keep the aesthetics up,” said Brian Gyory, of the planning board.
The board wanted more easily-understandable building layouts and renderings than those presented durkg the July 17 meeting, with more color, dimensions and landscaping details.
This was echoed by Stephanie Ostrowski, a Wemple Road resident, who wanted more renderings of the egress and region around the narrow parts of that same road there, for safety reasons. She was also concerned of the westernmost region of the complex which would be right across from properties on 281 and 291 Wemple Road, due to the road’s dangerous narrowness there.
“[It’s] not only the undulation of the road but the narrowness of that road,” she said. “For reference, there is no shoulder to the road and in fact, the white lines outlining the road are on the grass.”
Kevin Dougherty, a Delmar resident who also appeared at the meeting, said he wanted the board to look at the development project, like other local development proposals, “together, comprehensively and holistically.” He feared the town does not fully consider the concepts of open space and residential development.
The overall proposal was initially presented back in August 2016, which has since been updated. It was originally among four other local proposed property projects, which collectively would have been 346 units and 7,750 square feet of commercial space, with planning dating back to 2008. These projects would help increase traffic along Route 9W.
The board voted to table the overall project, after exchanging comments about possibly improving the designs and requesting for more detailed renderings of the complex.