Will Hurst Road become more residential than rural?

— Photo by Teri Conroy

The canopy of trees over Hurst Road is a vista that Teri Conroy, a resident of Hurst Road, and other neighbors are eager to preserve.

GUILDERLAND — Teri Conroy, who has lived on Hurst Road for two decades, hopes that plans fall through for Black Creek Estates, a proposed subdivision that would add more than a dozen single-family homes along the rural road or nearby on Route 146.

At the very least, she told The Enterprise this week, she hopes that neighbors can work with the developer and the Guilderland Planning Board to make the subdivision’s impact as slight as possible.

Conroy raises llamas at Wunsapana Farm at 4557 Hurst Rd. Her home there was built in 1865 by Ira Hurst. Her property is right across the street from the site of the proposed subdivision, which is currently uninterrupted woods and which she says has never been lived on by anyone.

Conroy is especially worried about maintaining the character of the rural-residential area and keeping the treeline that creates a canopy over the road.

Conroy was among the two dozen Hurst Road residents who attended Wednesday’s planning board meeting, saying they have passionate feelings for the street where “everyone walks.”

John Reed of Delanson owns the 46 acres to be developed, according to documents on file at the Guilderland Town Hall. David Ingalls said at Wednesday’s meeting that he is a member of the applicant, B&D Properties; B&D Properties has a contract to buy the property from Reed.

Ingalls has submitted two plans: One, a “conservation” plan, calls for all 13 homes to be placed alongside one another on Hurst Road, leaving 61 percent of the 46 acres open. The other, “conventional,” plan calls for 11 lots on Hurst Road and two lots across Route 146 near the Black Creek.

The property is in an RA-3 zoning district, which is rural agricultural, with properties that are a minimum of three acres.

A conservation plan in this district allows a developer to make lots smaller, with smaller building envelopes, provided that at least half of the total acreage is left open.

Conroy says that she prefers the conventional plan over the conservation plan, since it appears to involve adding fewer driveways to Hurst Road.

In the conventional plan, eight houses have their front yards on Hurst Road, although driveways are not shown on the plan. Three lots at the back of the forested area on Hurst Road have their front yards on Route 146 and two properties across Route 146 make five properties on that road, with eight on Hurst, for a total of 13.

In the conservation plan, 13 lots front Hurst Road, and one additional keyhole lot that has access to Hurst Road backs up to Route 146, for a total of 14 lots.

Ingalls said that B&D is leaning toward the conservation plan rather than the conventional plan.

Board Chairman Stephen Feeney said that he usually encourages conservation, or cluster, developments, but that, “In this case, I don’t see the utility of what you’re going to preserve.” Feeney said that the proposal was also “out of character with the rest of Hurst Road.”

Ingalls said that B&D hoped to run sewer a line along the center of the property, and Feeney said that, according to initial conversations he had had with the town’s water and wastewater Superintendent Timothy McIntyre, that wasn’t going to happen.

Feeney suggested that Ingalls make an appointment to sit down with McIntyre and start to figure out where the infrastructure needed to go — ”That sewer needs to stay on Route 146,” Feeney said — and that then that information might cause the developer to rethink the whole plan.

 

— From Guilderland’s Neighborhood Master Plan for the Guilderland Center Hamlet
The neighborhood master plan for Guilderland Center, created in 2010 with input from residents, envisioned the tract of land where Black Creek Estates is to be built as one with minimal access points on Hurst Road.

 

Master planning

Donald Csaposs, who is the town’s grant writer, said he lives on Graystone Drive in the Weatherfield development, so the board might wonder why he was there.

He was there, he said, on behalf of a close friend: Mr. Tumnus.

Mr. Tumnus, Csaposs said, is an adult male llama.

“Mr. Tumnus and I like to walk up and down Hurst Road, together with other two-legged friends and sometimes other four-legged friends. We love the rural character of that road,” Csaposs said.

He referred the board to the Guilderland Center Master Plan, put together in 2010 with input from about 100 neighborhood residents.

“Your name is on the plan, Mr. Chairman,” Csaposs said to Feeney.

He told the board that this very property is considered in the master plan, which recommended that any new construction be clustered at the center of the property, with a minimum of curb cuts on Hurst Road and access from Route 146 encouraged.

The area under consideration is shown on page 58 of the master plan; there is even a drawing.

Csaposs warned that, if 12 additional driveways are placed 150 feet apart on Hurst Road, the developer would effectively “transform it into a suburb.”

Resident Joe Perry, who lives at 4680 Hurst Rd., asked if it wouldn’t be better to continue the existing character of the area by building houses along Route 146 instead, with far fewer on Hurst Road. That, he said, would be in keeping with both the nature of Route 146 and of Hurst Road. It would make it easier to connect the homes to a sewer line, he said.

Drainage

Neighbor Russell Leitch, who lives at 529 Route 146, told The Enterprise he was primarily concerned about drainage, particularly if lots are built near his home, as he said was shown in one of the two plans.

The whole area is already damp, Leitch said, “with wetlands here and there.”

Friends of his, he said, have seen developers come into their neighborhoods and build subdivisions and have gone from “not having any sump pumps, to four.”

Town Stormwater Officer Ken D’Arpino told The Enterprise that there appear to be two areas considered wetlands within the plan, of about an acre each.

D’Arpino said that the project’s engineer would need to submit a full stormwater pollution prevention plan to the Department of Environmental Conservation.

The proposal does not go to D’Arpino until later in the process, and he was not sure if the Army Corps of Engineers had officially delineated wetlands at this point.

Chief Building and Zoning Inspector Jacqueline Coons said that the plans call for a sewer easement, but she was not sure where the sewer was meant to come from. She said that Hurst Road homes are currently served by septic systems.

Christopher Beckmann, of 580 Route 146, wrote in a letter to the town board that he was concerned about what additional driveways and grade changes would do to the surface runoff towards the Black Creek. He has moved a historic barn to Route 146, near the Appel Inn, which his parents own, to make into his house.

Much of the runoff from the land where the subdivision is proposed drains under 146 through a culvert pipe “somewhere very close, if not onto my parents’ (Laurie and Gerd Beckmann) property adjacent to the proposed lot 12 in the conventional plan,” he wrote.

He worries that any grade changes or additional driveways could increase surface runoff through that culvert pipe onto the Beckmann lot, close to where he has recently relocated a historic barn.

Traffic

Traffic in the area may increase in the future, with the approval last February of a request by Jonathan Phillips of Phillips Hardware for a variance and special-use permit to the allow demolition of his hardware store, at the intersection of Routes 146 and 158, and the construction of a 10,200-square-foot mixed-use building with 11 apartments, a 4,200-square-foot convenience store with fast-food service and four fuel pumps, and a 45,500-square-foot indoor sports complex.

Phillips asked for a variance to permit 191 parking spaces where 520 are required.

At a public hearing on Phillips’ complex, which continued over three different meetings, three people spoke against the application, seven people “brought up various concerns” and two people spoke in favor, according to zoning-board minutes from Feb. 15. There were no written comments against the application, and two in favor.

The zoning board granted approval with conditions: adherence to the site plan, landscape plan, and stormwater plan; and receipt of necessary federal, state, and county permits.

Phillips said that his project is planned as two phases: first the hardware store with gas station and drive-through Dunkin’ Donuts; then, when he has the “equity bandwidth,” he told The Enterprise Wednesday night, “the sports dome comes next.”

Some of the work in phase one — laying the sewer line and some of the site work — will make phase two easier, he said.

Leitch, too, is concerned about traffic. “The road is incredibly busy here,” he said of Route 146.

He and his wife are both retired and are at home all day. “I always knew it was busy, but it’s nonstop, 24/7,” he said.

Leitch tries to maintain his home very well. He cited “road dust and dirt, diesel fuel, and brake dust” as factors that make him need to pressure wash his home once or twice a year.


Corrected on March 19, 2018: We corrected the name of Donald Csaposs’s “close friend” from Mr. Thomas to Mr. Tumnus, a Chronicles of Narnia character, created by C. S. Lewis.

More Guilderland News