Wayne Newcomb speaks at the Colonie Planning Board meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 12. (Jim Franco/Spotlight News)
COLONIE — The Planning Board gave a housing project between Vly Road and New Karner Road a final OK on Tuesday, Nov. 12 by a vote of five to one.
The plan, proposed by VHB Inc. on behalf of Rosetti Associates, calls for the construction of an eight-unit building and a 10-unit building on about 1.5 acres of vacant land. As per town code, Rosetti would not be allowed to build that many units on that amount of land, but the company owns another four-plus acres along New Karner Road, where it has office buildings, and when combined it meets town density requirements.
The fact they combined it with four acres of already developed land to calculate density was called a loophole in the town zoning law but also within the company’s right.
The vacant land is zoned Office Residential, which allows multi-unit dwellings.
The project was modified a number of times to meet Planning Board concerns and those of residents living near the project.
The latest change to the project, which was objected to by neighbors, was to include the construction of a sidewalk from the buildings to Vly Road so South Colonie school buses could pick up children. Joe LaCivita said the district does not want to pick up school children along New Karner and the district asked for access to Vly Road. The school bus issue was brought up at previous meetings.
“I certainly do not want to be around when the first car hits that first child,” said William Fahey, a resident of Vly Road. “A sidewalk on Vly Road so children can stand on is not feasible.
“This project is just too big. We can accept one building but not two. There are too many people. It’s too congested.”
After some discussion, the agreement was to construct the sidewalk through the berm that will be built to buffer Vly Road, and then a pad, with a street light, for children to wait for the bus.
“People are going to go to Vly Road and I would rather have them walk on a sidewalk than climbing over a hill in the dark,” said Planing Board member Stephen Heider, who recommended putting a light where the sidewalk will terminate on Vly Road.
It’s not clear how many children will live in the apartments, but it is not designed for families. Ten of the 18 units will be one bedroom, said Chris Falvey, of Rosetti Associations.
The project was first proposed in June, 2018 and included emergency access onto Vly Road, which irked residents who are concerned it would just end up being a full access driveway. The emergency access was since changed and will now go through Rosetti-owned property to the south and lead to New Karner Road.
Full access will be to the north through office property owned by Rosetti to New Karner Road.
The eight-unit, two-story building will have a 5,460-square-foot footprint and the two-story, 10-unit building will have a footprint of 6,660-square-foot.
There will be 36 parking spots and the project is expected to generate 18 trips during the afternoon peak hour.
There was one waiver granted and that is to bypass the 25-foot maximum setback from New Karner Road.
Rosetti has agreed to build the berm along Vly Road and along the property next door to the project to the north on Vly Road. The land has been mostly cleared fill was brought in over the summer.
Craig Shamilian was the lone no-vote on the board.
“I was not in favor of this project from day one,” he said. “I don’t think it is the right project for this spot. I know it is zoned Office Residential, but in my view that is a transition zone. This is not a transition project. This should be an office building.”Nov. 12