Residents look at the drawings for a housing development off of Troy-Schenectady Road. (Photo by Jim Franco/Spotlight News)
COLONIE – The Planning Board gave a cold shoulder to a would be new development proposed for nearly 49 acres on the north side of Troy Schenectady Road.
The project, proposed by Dean Marotta, would include building 61 homes lots on land zoned for single residential structures. The development, called On the Farm Estates, would be on an oval shaped piece of land starting at 261 Troy Schenectady Road and roughly running north. It is tucked in along Grove, Vista, Sylvan and Proctor avenues.
It would include building two roads – called Thomas Drive and Farm Street – heading north from Troy Schenectady Road. A third street would tie into Harding Avenue.
Nick Costa, of Advance Engineering and Surveying, presented the project on behalf of Marotta as drawn to conventional design standards, which means each lot would be 18,000 square feet with 80-foot of frontage as per the town’s single family subdivision regulations. Without any consideration to wetlands or other environmental factors, which is not required, he said the zoning does allow for 95 single family homes.
But, while the project is not located in a conservation overlay district, the board determined those standards, which allow for smaller lots and other modifications to accommodate existing environmental factors like wetlands, may be more appropriate for this project.
“I thought we asked you to look at a conservation sketch plan but you looked at and rejected it summarily,” said Planning Board Chairman Peter Stuto.
Costa, though, said the applicant did look at it but is still pushing for a traditional design.
“The applicant is trying to satisfy an identified need,” he told a skeptical Planning Board. “Everyone is going to the smaller lots, and they feel this is an area would be well-received if they were 18,000-square-foot lots which are the standard.”
The board, though, was not convinced.
“I’m in favor of applying some other standards. I would like to see it as a conservation district,” said board member David Austin.
“I can’t imagine myself voting for this. I’m concerned about the wetlands. When you look at the development this is one of the only places left for animal species to live,” said board member Kathleen Dalton. “It’s a relatively large parcel by comparison, when you look at everything else around it, I don’t think you can ever convince me this parcel will sustain that amount of development.”
It was a packed house on Tuesday, Oct. 17, and a number of residents did sign up to speak but withdrew their names once the board opted to not vote on the project’s concept as designed and sent it back to the drawing board.
One resident did speak. Jolee McGee, who lives on Abby Road, said her home would back up to the new subdivision and is concerned with the impact on drainage, wildlife and traffic.
“I work at a hospital in Columbia County,” she said. “When I can make it to Columbia County quicker than I can make it to Shaker High School, there is a problem.”
Joe LaCivita, the director of the town Planning and Economic Development Department said a conservation district can still contain the same density just on smaller lots, which would fit in better with the surrounding neighborhoods.
“We are looking at making it more contiguous with the same look and feel of the existing neighborhoods,” he said, adding the applicant will likely take the board’s comments under consideration and return with a re-worked sketch plan.