Projects in the works in Voorheesville and New Scotland

— From Google

 The owner of an eight-unit apartment building housed in a former schoolhouse at 30 New Scotland Ave. in Feura Bush is proposing to add another 12 apartments to the site. 

NEW SCOTLAND — With COVID-19 putting a pause on most things for the past two months, signs of life were spotted in Voorheesville and New Scotland recently, as each municipality’s planning body heard project proposals. 

In Voorheesville, Atlas Copco is looking at a minor expansion.

In New Scotland, George Barna, is proposing to build a 12-unit apartment building at 30 New Scotland Ave., in Feura Bush. The nearly 4-acre site already contains eight apartments, four two-bedroom and four one-bedroom units, housed in a former schoolhouse; the new building would be built behind the existing one.

The zoning board first took up the application at its April 28 meeting; the project was before the planning board on May 12 because variance requests are required to be referred to the planning board for an advisory opinion.

The first variance request was to allow Barna to build a second principle dwelling at 30 New Scotland Ave., which already has an eight-unit apartment building on site.

The second variance request was density relief from the town’s zoning code, so that four additional apartments to be added to the site’s proposed second principle dwelling, making it a 12-unit building.

The existing parking lot has 15 parking spaces; the proposed expansion would include an additional 18 parking spaces, totaling 33 spaces for 20 units — the number of parking spaces required for the project is 30, per town code.

The water line would be extended from the existing building, adding approximately 1,300 gallons per day to the system. 

The current plan is to use the existing septic system, but that’s contingent on a thorough investigation of the current system. If it’s determined that the existing septic system won’t handle more, modifications would have to be made or a new system for the new building may have to be installed.

“We did receive some correspondence with concerns about [the proposed project],” planning board member Christine Galvin said during the May 12 virtual planning board meeting. 

There was a concern about increased traffic from residents who live in the single-family homes on the opposite side of New Scotland Avenue from the former school.

Although the proposal calls for 18 new parking spaces, it’s not uncommon for an apartment to have two residents with two cars, Galvin said, so there’s the possibility that traffic going in and out of the site could more than double.

But she also pointed out that the proposed project is adjacent to Feura Bush Senior Apartments — which consists of 22 one-bedroom and two two-bedroom apartments — so it doesn’t appear that the new building would change the neighborhood all that much, given there’s a fair amount of multi-tenant housing in the area already.

Galvin recommended that, if the zoning board were to sign off on the variances, it condition its approval based on a traffic study showing that traffic would be reasonable for the area. “And if that’s not really the right way to go about it, then I’d rather just share with [the zoning board] our discussions that we’ve had tonight,” she said.

Board member Peter Richards didn’t want to give the zoning board a positive recommendation on the application because of the project’s unknown traffic impact.

“I certainly agree with [Galvin] and support the comprehensive plan that [says] town-wide we do need to look at more affordable housing,” Chairman Charles Voss said. “And I think apartments are one way to do that.”

There’s precedent in this particular part of the hamlet to allow for multi-family dwellings, and specifically on the side of New Scotland Avenue where the 12-unit building is proposed, he said.

“So I think there’s a precedent there, but there’s also a tipping point for smaller neighborhoods where they might have too much of one thing going on,” Voss said. “And it may not be appropriate.”

Voss said he’d be more comfortable not making a recommendation on either of the variance referrals — rather, he’d prefer that the planning board’s discussion be provided to the zoning board in the form of a transcription or recording.

Ultimately, the board decided against making a recommendation on the Barna application since there wasn’t enough information on the impact of new traffic on a single-lane road that has fewer than 20 properties, two of which are already multi-unit dwellings.

Atlas Copco

The Voorheesville Planning Commission held a virtual public hearing on May 12 to hear Atlas Copco’s proposal to expand its existing School Road testing facility.

The commission is expected to make a decision on Atlas Copco’s special-use permit at its June 2 meeting.  

Atlas Copco manufactures centrifugal compressors in Voorheesville; the compressors are used in major industrial plants. 

The company is looking to add another 1,500 square feet of space to its existing 20,000 square-foot compressor-testing facility. 

Atlas Copco normally has to ship its larger compressors from Germany and China to Voorheesville for testing — and then ship the equipment to customers in the United States. The 1,500-square-foot addition would allow Atlas Copco to assemble those larger compressors in the United States.

Scott Kaffka, general manager of Atlas Copco Voorheesville, made it clear that the company is looking to add capacity and equipment to build larger compressors, not more testing capacity — the noise levels won’t increase with the addition of the new building, he said. 

During the May 12 public hearing, the company presented to the planning commission eight noise complaints and solutions that were undertaken to mitigate those complaints since 2001. Kaffka said the last formal noise complaint from a neighbor was in the spring of 2017. 

It was asked if the village kept a file of noise complaints made against Atlas Copco — it doesn’t. According to board of trustees meeting minutes, the most recent Atlas Copco noise complaint was brought to the village’s attention in November 2019

But there were also residents who wanted the planning commission to know that Atlas Copco had been a good neighbor. 

Bryan Strauss, an eight-year resident of Crescent Court whose property is directly adjacent to Atlas Copco, said that, on an average day, the ambient noise level coming from the facility was about 45 decibels; for comparison, a neighbor mowing his or her lawn was about 58 decibels; and, on an average Atlas Copco compressor testing day, the noise level was about 54 decibels. 



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