The Leones stand between their home on Vly Road and a plot of land where two apartment buildings are proposed. Jim Franco/Spotlight News
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COLONIE — The Planning Board tabled a proposal to build two apartment buildings on a chunk of land between Vly Road and Route 155 on Tuesday, June 19.
The plan by Rosetti Associates calls for an eight-unit, 8,430-square-foot building and a 10-unit, 9,350-square-foot building on a site that has already been cleared of one building and most of the trees. Trucks are also bringing in fill.
The project includes 18 open parking spots and 18 garage stalls. The main access and egress will be on New Karner Road – Route 155 – and it calls for a gated emergency access on Vly Road.
The narrative presented to the Planning Board says the project will sit on 5.4 acres, but the majority of that is already developed with office buildings owned by Rosetti.
The gist of concerns expressed by the Planning Board was that the project is too large for the spot.
“I think it’s just too much,” said Planning Board member Brian Austin. “Just because you have the project, doesn’t mean you have the parcel size.”
In addition to concerns about the project’s size, neighbors are worried about traffic, noise and light, particularly if the gated emergency access becomes an ungated driveway in the future.
“They do have property rights and they can build something there and they can build multi-family residential there,” said Planning Board Chairman Peter Stuto. “It’s not our job to re-design the building but I think the idea would be to scale it down and lessen the impact [to the neighborhood] as much as you can.”
A number of residents spoke against the project but they are in a tough spot in that the village line is right down the middle of Vly Road from Furlong Drive to Central Avenue. The project is in the Town of Colonie, if it were in the village zoning regulations and planning processes would take precedent.
“My front window is right across the street from that,” said Vly Road resident Michael Watkins. “And the driveway on Vly might be gated but what about the truck traffic during construction. People forget there is a hairpin turn right there.”
John Moore of Hillside Drive, a side street off Vly Road not far from Central Avenue, said he has a difficult time getting out of his road during the busy times of day.
“There is a major traffic problem in that area. We have a BOCES at the end of the street, two daycare center and a school. People try to avoid 155 and traffic really is a problem on Vly,” he told the Planning Board. “I know you guys care about tax revenue but we don’t need this. We need sidewalks.”
According to the narrative submitted to the Planning Board by Rosetti, the project will generate 10 trips during the afternoon rush hour.
Planning Board member Kathleen Dalton questioned whether or not there is enough parking, and was miffed when told the 18 spots currently in garages count towards the required total number of spots for the number of proposed apartments.
“The count should not include garages,” she said. “I know we live in a relatively large home and we have three cars and we don’t ever park in our garage. We use it for other things.”
She also mentioned how the buildings are so tightly squeezed into so little of a space that there is not enough room for things like a picnic table or a swing set for children.
William Fahy, who lives on Vly Road said the project is too big.
“I get all the lights from the office buildings in my bedroom,” he said. “And when the new buildings go up, I will get people looking in my bedroom windows.”
Rosetti owns the office buildings on Karner Road that surround the site he wants to build on now.
The Leones live on Vly Road, next door to the proposed site, and are worried about their property value plummeting with large apartment buildings located right next door.
“They are already clearing the land and they are already bringing in fill and now they want to build a retaining pond right next to our front lawn,” said Gilda Leone. “They are not good neighbors now and I don’t see how they will be better neighbors if they build these buildings right next door to us.”
She said shy of denying the project and scaling it back, she wants the Planning Board to require Rosetti to install a tall fence between their property and the new buildings.
Rosetti is asking for three waivers to current town zoning regulations:
• Instead of orienting the buildings so their main facades and entrances are facing the street, the project calls for one side of the buildings to face New Karner Road and the other to face Vly Road.
• Exceeding the maximum setback from a major road of 25 feet to keep in line with the current building’s setback and to make it easier for people to get in and out of the garages.
• To allow parking in the front of the buildings so as not to disturb the proposed patios in the back of the buildings and the garages on the sides. But, the front of the building generally faces the road so this is related to the first requested waiver.
Rather than grant the project concept approval, which would allow the developers to hire engineers and do more detailed work the board opted to table it until the developer makes some changes.