A resident speaks against the On the Farm Estate project on Tuesday, July 10 Jim Franco/Spotlight News
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COLONIE – The Planning Board unanimously approved the construction of 63 homes on 48.89 acres off Troy Schenectady Road, or Route 2, on Tuesday, July 10.
The project, proposed by Dean Marotta and called On The Farm Estates, will be located behind the ice cream shop of the same name. It was initially proposed as a straight up, conventional sub-division in March 2017, but was since changed to a Conservation Overlay District, which allows for smaller lots while maintaining more greenspace.
The initial conventional subdivision would have built 61 homes on 18,000-square-foot lots with 80-foot of frontage along newly constructed roads. The approved plan will construct 59 homes on 15,000-square-foot lots and 60-foot of frontage along one new road. Nearly 40 percent of the site, 18.88 acres, much of which is wetlands and hiking trails, will be untouched.
The new road will run from Route 2 to Sylvan Avenue with the latter access point blocked by bollards to only allow emergency vehicles passage, said Nicholas Costa, who made the presentation on behalf of the developer, Dean Marotta.
Two other new roads in the initial proposal are eliminated, and instead dead ends at the end of Proctor and Harding avenues will get extended to accommodate the construction of four additional homes.
A number of residents living in the surrounding neighborhoods on Sylvan Avenue, Surrey Hill Drive, Abby Road, Vista Avenue and other streets are not happy with developing a narrow swath of nearly 49 acres from Route 2 to Latham Ridge Elementary School, and some voiced their trepidations to the board at the meeting.
Concerns include traffic, clearing of trees, taxing an already taxed infrastructure, wetland preservation, construction inconveniences, buffering between the new project and existing homes, storm water runoff and the displacement of wildlife.
“My concern is clearing, and hopefully there would be some sort of buffer or trees between my home [and the new project,”] said Joann Spinelli, who lives on Surrey Hill Drive. “I’ve been used to peace and quiet and privacy for 24 years, and I’d like to keep that as much as possible.”
“Colonie has a lot to offer, but they have to look at their neighborhoods and the communities and this is why I’m so upset at what is going on here,” said Sara Freeman, who also lives on Surrey Hill Drive. “I’ve lived 70 years in Colonie and I’ve been all over, north and south, and neighborhoods are not the priority, unfortunately. I’d really like you to take a look at what goes on and how it goes on.”
Brian Long, who lives on Harding Avenue was concerned with the wetlands and what grading for the new buildings will do to the already troublesome storm water problem in his neighborhood.
Charles Voss, the town’s hired designated engineer for the project, said storm water is an issue for some residents now, but once the project is developed, runoff will get captured and channeled to existing catch basins. In the end, it could help matters, he said.
“Any water you might see coming off that natural surface, what is there now, some of that will be alleviated with this proposed development, even in heavy storm events,” he said.
Still, some neighbors are concerned about the value of their homes.
“My bungalow was built in 1930 and the value of my home is going to go down so I am wondering if my property taxes will also go down,” asked Elizabeth Filkins.
Cinthia Kinch Kemp, who lives on Vista Avenue, took a more macro approach said there is too much construction, and too many new homes and apartments being built on what was once forest and farmland.
“When is enough, enough?” she asked hypothetically. “What is all this construction going to do to the deer, the raccoon, the foxes? Where are they going to go? Who really cares if they are running out of places to go and how many of them are getting killed in the process.”
This is the fourth time the project has been in front of the Planning Board, though, and a conventional subdivision built within existing zoning parameters does allow for 95 single family homes.
“Over the course of this project, believe it or not, we have done a lot, did our best, to mitigate the impact to the neighbors given the restrictions of the land use law which is the law we have to apply,” said board Chairman Peter Stuto.