In April, Frank Nigro came before the Colonie Planning Board with the idea of building a 110-unit senior housing complex on Forts Ferry Road near the intersection of Wade Road.
To accomplish that, he needed a change in zoning to a Planning Development District, which would allow for a higher density than the current Office Residential zone allows.
Understandably, people living in nearby neighborhoods didn’t like the idea of having what is mostly a wooded 13-plus acres of land next to them developed and came out in force.
Nigro pulled the project.
Five months later, he is back before the Planning Board with a project that meets all zoning requirements but includes two buildings: a 62-unit, three story apartment building and a three-story office building.
If you look at it from the Wade Road side of things, you could be standing in the parking lot of a huge Medical Arts building or the mall anchored by Target or one of two large hotels and think senior housing is a perfect fit.
From the other side, you could be standing next to a swing set, looking over a picket fence and think it’s a good spot for the kids to build a tree fort.
It’s a similar circumstance over on Maxwell Road, where a senior housing project is being built to the oblivion of traffic and businesses on the one side and to the horror residents on the other. That project was approved prior to Mahan taking office.
And those two are not unlike a project proposed for between Route 9 and the high-end Dutch Meadow neighborhood. A developer wanted a variance for a project that included building more single family homes, a memory care facility and an assisted living facility. Route 9 is a perfect spot for such development, but those who paid big bucks to live in Dutch Meadow don’t want that infringing on manicured lawns and swimming pools.
It’s tough when land lays between commercial and residential areas.
But, a moratorium, as suggested by Frank Mauriello, a Republican candidate for town supervisor, won’t change that dynamic, or do anything else useful to the town as a whole either.
He does satisfy one requirement, that the moratorium have an expiration date, and in this case it is when the Comprehensive Plan is updated.
The courts, though, have been finicky when addressing development moratoriums, and it appears telling a developer he or she can build 80 percent of the project is disingenuous and, at best, on tenuous legal grounds.
It’s nearly as absurd as a resident – well intentions notwithstanding – telling a developer he or she should build two stories instead of three, or suggesting a reworking of a site plan so as not to disturb the tree fort.
And it’s unlikely the currently under review Comprehensive Plan will address any of those areas to the satisfaction of everyone involved either.
A town, certainly, is well within its right to control what developments fit in where through zoning. Indeed, it is one of its primary responsibilities. The landowners and developers have rights too.
The Mahan administration recognizes that delicate balance, and has worked under the 2005 Comprehensive Plan to bring not only the controversial projects to town but a tremendous amount of redevelopment along Route 7 and Route 9 as well.
That’s how the process is supposed to work and by and large it’s working well in Colonie.
Any municipality in the immediate Capital District, New York state or even in the entire nation would love to have the amount of quality development projects Colonie attracts.
Politically motivated moratoriums — one of the most controversial projects, the senior housing on Maxwell Road, was approved when Mauriello was deputy supervisor so to blame Mahan is unfair and misleading — are election year gimmicks that will do nothing but hurt the town as a whole.