Frank Barbera, of Barbera Homes, speaks to the crowd at a Colonie Planning Board meeting on Tuesday, April 30. (Jim Franco/Spotlight News)
COLONIE — The Planning Board and the public seemed amenable to granting a conservation subdivision to a housing project at the former Fogtle Farms off Albany Shaker Road.
“Leading up to this project, we did a lot of community outreach and the reason is, as a normal person, I completely understand the trepidation you have as neighbors when there is something happening in your back yard, something that will change your environment,” said Frank Barbera, of Barbera Homes, the applicant and developer for what is known as Cold Springs.
The plan is scaled back from the Planned Development District that would have constructed 80 new homes on the 20.5 acres in a higher density than current zoning allows. On the table now, is a plan to build 39 single family homes that will sell in the high-$300,000 range.
Barbera said most of the homes would be ranch-style construction between 1,500 to 1,800 square feet with some colonial style homes between 1,700 and 2,200 square feet.
The main concern was access to the site onto the already congested Albany Shaker Road and the problems people already have getting out of their streets onto the busy throughfare.
Albany County, which owns and has control of the road, is installing a traffic light at the intersection of Albany Shaker and Shaker El, a dead end street that leads to Shaker Road Elementary School.
The light, being installed at the insistence of elementary school parents, will compound the problem of getting in and out of the new development since access now is proposed for just north of and across the street from Shaker El.
“I have serious concerns about the access,” said Planning Board member Louis Mion. “With the traffic on that road, I would think it would make more sense to have access at the light. Maybe have your road come out by Shaker El to utilize the light.”
Now, there is an emergency access only proposed for across the street from Shaker El. And as it stands the light will only be a full-fledge red light during school hours.
There is a “no-cut” buffer to surround the site to screen the existing neighborhoods, but residents are still concerned with the already serious traffic issue getting worse by more people cutting through the neighborhoods to avoid gridlock on Albany Shaker.
“I have two little kids who I can’t let out on the front yard as it is now today. People come zipping around the corner 30, 40 mph. I give them a look and it doesn’t do anything,” said Paul Westfall, a resident of James Drive, a street on the north end of the old farm. “If you send more people through our neighborhood we will have more problems. I’m not opposed to this, but anything we can do to limit the number of people from taking a right onto James would be great.”
The Planning Board did not take any formal action on Tuesday, April 30. The Town Board will need to approve the application for a conservation subdivision.