Residents get a close look at a sketch plan of Ridgeview Meadows (Photo by Jim Franco/Spotlight News)
COLONIE — A project currently in front of the Planning Board includes a mix of single family housing, assisted care senior apartments, a facility for seniors with cognitive deficiencies and retail/office space.
A sketch plan was presented to the Planning Board on Tuesday, June 6, and to a packed house of residents, mostly from the nearby neighborhood of Dutch Meadows Drive who are worried about traffic, noise and the drainage of storm water impacting their quiet residential neighborhood.
The project is being broken into two portions: the first is to construct 15 single family homes in what is known as Ridgeview Meadows at North Colonie; the second to build an 80-bed assisted living facility featuring traditional design and centralized common areas, a 56-bed state of the art memory care facility and retail/office space.
Of the 27.8 acres of land, the western 22.2 acres are already zoned for single family homes so that portion of the project will not need special consideration by the town before it can proceed.
The developer, Vermont based Blackrock, is looking for a Planned Development District, for the remaining 5.7 acres nearest Route 9 that is currently zoned Commercial Office Residential.
With consent of the developer and the landowner, Frank Polsinello, who also lives in the Dutch Meadows development, the June 20 formal presentation to the Planning Board is postponed. Instead, Polsinello has agreed to meet with residents at a yet to be determined location on that date to answer their questions and possibly satisfy their concerns with modifications to the sketch plan.
In addition to Dutch Meadows Drive, there is Bergen Woods Drive and Wetherby Court, which are currently dead ends in a rudimentary cul-de-sac but would, if approved, continue to the new development. The road would not, however, according to officials, lead all the way to Route 9 but rather dead end at one of the senior housing facilities.
“We are not rushing and I don’t want to force something down people’s throats. We’ve made a number of revisions and we will make more revisions before construction begins,” said Polsinello, who bought the land that he said was on the market for some 10 years prior. “In the end, it will be beneficial to the entire community. We need more senior housing and we need more independent housing.”
Polsinello was the fifth person to purchase a home in the neighboring Dutch Meadows development that now has more than 100, he said.
Some of his neighbors, though, aren’t too happy with the proposed development.
“North Colonie is such a growing community right now but it is growing too much,” said one man who preferred his name not be printed. “Dutch Meadows was originally brought up as a family oriented development and that’s how we prefer it to stay.”
“I’m concerned with the additional traffic coming through the neighborhood,” said another resident of Dutch Meadows who knows Polisnello and didn’t want her name used. “I know they are saying ‘no,’ but just looking at what they are proposing now there looks to me like there will be additional traffic.”
Since it was only a sketch plan presentation, during which the developer presents an initial vision for the project to the Planning Board, the neighbors were not notified and were not given a chance to speak.
The two residents mentioned above received a flyer about the meeting in their mailboxes from “a concerned neighbor.”
Ben Avery, of Blackrock Construction, a Vermont based company who has built this type of project in Vermont and New Hampshire said he is used to skepticism regarding his projects and is willing to listen to the concerns of neighbors and make adjustments where possible.
Once built and up and running, though, he said his experience is the communities blend in without many problems.
“These are senior care communities and we want to see them integrated. We don’t want them in a field on the edge of town,” he said. “We seek out sites like this but it always draws a crowd and we try to take as much public input as we can; Our ears are open.”
While Avery said everyone can relate to senior housing, the biggest hurdle is the “Not in My Backyard” phenomenon.
“There is no one in this room who is not touched by a father, a mother, an aunt, an uncle or a grandmother who hasn’t needed additional assistance or who wants to get out of their house and downsize or who is touched by cognitive issues like Alzheimer’s,” he said.
An operator for the senior sites hasn’t been picked yet because, he said, the design is still fluid.