James Easton, of MJ Engineering, makes a presentation to the Planning Board. Jim Franco/Spotlight News
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COLONIE — Many of the concerns voiced by about a dozen neighbors about a new subdivision off Lupe Way were out of the Planning Board’s control.
Also, Dave Adams Builders, the developer of 60.9 acres of land parallel to Morocco Lane will deed some 72 percent of it, or about 42 acres, to the town with the plan to then deed it to the Pine Bush Preserve.
“Seventy-two percent of the site will remain forever wild and never built on,” said James Easton, of MJ Engineering who presented the project on behalf of the applicant, Dave Adams Builders. “We are only building on 18 acres of the 60-acre site.”
As per town code governing an overlay district, at least 40 percent of the unconstrained land — that which is developable — must remain greenspace. In this case, Easton said it equates to 15.4 acres. There are also 22.4 acres of constrained land, or that which is not developable due to rough terrain or wetlands, that will also remain as greenspace. In all, based on the projects design, 42 acres will get turned over to the town.
The Planning Board, on Tuesday, Aug. 7, unanimously approved construction of 44 new homes with an access point at Lupe Way, a road off Bonner Avenue that will become a cul-de-sac, and another point of access off Morocco Lane. A conventional subdivision would allow 69 homes.
Both Lupe and Morocco are accessed only by Bonner Avenue and that was a point of contention for the majority of the some dozen or so neighbors who spoke against the project.
“You can say there are two points of access but there is only one and that is Bonner Avenue,” said one resident.
The construction of a second road was explored, to connect to Cordell Road for example, but Joe Grasso, the town’s designated engineer on the project, said terrain and wetlands prevented it from having any possibility.
“All the traffic will pass directly in front of our home and I feel we are losing the neighborhood,” said Richard Barrett, who lives on Bonner Avenue. “It is a great neighborhood. At any given time there are eight, 10 or a dozen kids out there playing. But, if you have all these houses with a single point of access on Bonner Avenue, the traffic will ruin it.”
Residents also spoke of the speeders on Nutwood Avenue, many of which turn onto Bonner Avenue to access the neighborhoods.
“If 85 percent of the people who use Nutwood turn into the neighborhood then they are your own neighbors who are speeding,” said Steven Heider, the former police chief who is now on the Planning Board. “You can’t reduce the limit from 30 to 20, and if you did the average speed on Bonner would still be 36 mph.”
Prior to granting approval, the board asked town staffers to bring the issue to the Traffic Safety Committee to see if something could be done.
The land used to be zoned for industrial use, but the town listened to neighborhood concerns, said Planning Board member Kathleen Dalton, and it is now zoned Single Family Residential.
“And the last time there were something like 60 houses and people were adamant that was too many so we went to a conservation overlay,” she said. “This is not ideal, but this developer has worked consistently with the community over a number of years to bring this project to fruition and people do have a right to develop their property.
“I completely get your problems with your traffic, but I encourage you, the way you showed up here tonight, you need to be working with the police department and supervisor and you need to have your voices heard by people who can do something about it.”
The project will consist of carriage home designs on smaller lots around the cul-de-sacs and more traditional, 18,000-square-foot lots, with 80-foot frontage, and standard setbacks to fit in with the existing neighborhood along Morocco Lane, Easton said. The average lot size will be about 13,200 square feet, he said.