A barn shaped shed along Rustyville Road and the commercial development along the east side of Wolf Road in the background. Jim Franco/Spotlight News
COLONIE – The Planning Board gave a cool reception on Tuesday, June 19, to a massive mixed use development featuring 204 apartments in seven, three-story buildings, a 61-unit senior housing facility and a 1,500-square-foot retail facility.
The project, proposed for what is now the Radtke Farm, also includes the construction of a road that would run parallel to Wolf Road and connect the Winners Circle traffic circle near the Cap Com Credit Union to the traffic circle on Albany Shaker and Maxwell roads.
The Planning Board did not take public comment, and did not take any official action on the project. Most, though, were cool to the idea of giving the developer a Planned Development District to allow more density than current zoning permits.
The 23.2 acres —located between Wolf and Rustyville roads to the east and west, respectively, Albany Shaker Road to the north and roughly Marcus Boulevard to the south — is zoned for single family residential and has room for about 45 homes under the current parameters. A PDD allows for more density but also has all the issues like traffic and taxation on infrastructure that come with more people.
“This is six or seven times the permitted density,” said Planning Board Chairman Peter Stuto. “It is a transition piece between the residential on Albany Shaker Road and the commercial sites but it seems like there is way too much going on. It’s not for us to design your project, but I think it needs to be a lower scale use.”
Planning Board member Craig Shamlian, though, said he thought it was an appropriate use of a PDD.
Residents living along Rustyville Road, a quiet street lined with well cared for single family homes and basketball courts on the road, are not happy with the prospect of having
apartments in their back yards.
“I don’t think they expect us to be happy with anything they are planning back there. This is a nice residential
neighborhood so no, I don’t want to see apartments,” said Joanne Taylor who has lived on the cul-de-sac at the end of Rustyville Road for 14 years. “But, we can’t expect it to remain like it is back there either. We had CapCom built a few years ago, and that was a hard pill to swallow. This one, I guess, we will have to see what they do.”
She also is concerned with traffic on Albany Shaker Road. There are mornings where she says she waits up to 10 minutes trying to get out onto the busy thoroughfare and shudders with the thought of enough residents to fill 204 more apartments living in her backyard and also using the road.
William Houting, who lives on Rustyville Road closer to Albany Shaker, said he too thinks something will be built back there but so long as it the impacts are mitigated he is OK with it.
“If they do something with the traffic and the drainage and they don’t come through Bonnie Court then I don’t think it will have much to do with our street,” he said. “Traffic is already bad out there. I don’t see how it can get much worse.”
Bonnie Court is a short road at the end of Rustyville Court. If you take a right it dead ends into the Radtke farm where the development is proposed. If you take a left it crosses Knauf Lane and ends up in the Crossings. If you cross Bonnie Court you circle around Taylor’s cul-de-sac.
Right now the plans do not call for Bonnie Court opening up into the new development. As they are drawn, at the end of Bonnie Court, and to the left a little, there is a three-story, 21,506-square-foot apartment building with 36 units, a parking lot and garage as well as a portion of the site designated as protected wetlands.
The new road would run roughly parallel to Rustyville Road. Joe Grasso, the town designated engineer, said a draft of a yet to be released Shaker Road corridor study specifically outlines the benefits of having a road parallel to Wolf Road to help alleviate traffic onto the Northway. That, he said, and the new Exit 4 which was recently approved will help traffic flow o one of the Capital District busiest roads.
It is unclear when that study will be released.
The plan is for the road to take up just more than two acres and it will be turned over to the town upon completion, said Nicholas Costa, of Advance Engineering, during his presentation of the project on behalf of the applicant, Radtke Family Limited Partnership.
Paul Burgdorf, a Colonie Republican on the Albany County Legislature who represents the district, said any decision about the site should wait until that study is released and digested and the town’s comprehensive plan is released and digested.
“We are in the middle of making some of the most important decisions for the Town of Colonie’s future and we are doing it without the data to gauge the impact it will have on the residents,” he said. “There are 20,000 automobiles a day on Shaker Road, and if you add a large density project to that corridor you are going to exponentially increase traffic. It is bad now, and it is the new normal, but what we can control is density and I don’t see how you can have that much density in a sensitive area that cannot support the traffic now.”
The project is within the Airport GEIS and will have to abide by those regulations including the payment of mitigation fees. The road could serve to offset all or some of those, Grasso said.
Brickford of Colonie.
Lost in the conversation about the apartments is the senior living facility which would be known as Brickford of Colonie. Richard Eby, of the Kansas City based company Brickford Senior Living, made a pitch to the Planning Board shortly before Costa.
Brickford owns and operates 58 similar buildings in the U.S. and Eby said the facility would cater to seniors with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. It would be architecturally appealing and would have amenities such as a secure courtyard in the middle of the one-story, 39,648-square-foot building.
The Radtke family has owned and worked the land for many generations, according to the narrative submitted to the Planning Board, and are current residents of the neighborhood.