Kay’s Route 85A project gets stop-work order, $1K fine

The Enterprise — Michael Koff

The Grove at Maple Point, an ongoing development project on Route 85A in New Scotland, was recently issued a stop-work order for not following its own plans. The developer constructed the first building larger than it was approved to be, and is now seeking approval to build a second larger structure. 

NEW SCOTLAND — A contentious project has become more so after receiving a stop-work order for not complying with the plans its developer submitted to the town over a half-decade ago.
Representatives for Ron Kay were before the New Scotland Planning Board recently seeking approval for modifications to an existing site plan for the Grove at Maple Point development on Route 85A. 

The irked board did not pass a motion to hold a hearing on Kay’s modification requests.

New Scotland Building Inspector Jeremy Cramer explained to The Enterprise on Aug. 11 that New York State authorizes him to issue permits based on submitted plans. But, if those approved plans are deviated from, Cramer has the authority to, for example, make a developer take down a building and put it back up to bring it back into compliance.

“So we can require them to reduce the size of the building,” he said, “if we wanted to.”

Cramer went on, “That being said, it’s better to let the planning board see what the modifications are, what the proposed modifications are, make a decision, and then go from there.”

“That also being said,” he continued, when the town issued the stop-work order, it drafted an order of consent with a fine to allow Kay to move forward with the planning board modification request. 

The fine was for $1,000, Cramer said, and has already been paid. 

Chairman Jeffrey Baker,said at the Aug. 2 planning board meeting that the project’s first and largest building was constructed without an approval, subjecting it to “an after-the-fact approval if the board so desires.”

He said the board also had to deal with issues related to the driveway, the removal of a previously-approved retaining wall, and changes made to site grading.

Kay was also requesting from the board site-plan approval for the project’s second building, which now has a tenant, Baker said; a day-care center is set to occupy about two-thirds of the second building, “which is going to raise some other issues that we have to address.”

Project architect Dan Sanders, who also owns a piece of the limited-liability company developing the Grove at Maple Point, and engineer Luigi Palleschi were on hand at the Aug. 2 virtual meeting to update the planning board and answer its questions. 

Palleschi said the project initially had 18,000 square feet of retail space between the two buildings — 10,000 square feet and 8,000 square feet.

But, when Cramer went to the site, he conducted his own measurement and found the first building was 10,665 square feet.  “As proposed on the site plans,” Cramer said, the first building was 10,500 square feet, which was 500 square feet more than what the planning board initially approved. 

Cramer asked why the already-constructed building was bigger than its approved size.  

Sanders told him Trustco Bank needed more space from a mechanical standpoint because none of the heating and cooling equipment is going on the roof, as is often the case. “So we apologize for the increase in terms of not proceeding and processing the review or changes back to [Cramer] and the town,” Sanders said.

The first building ended up about 6 percent larger than proposed, Sanders said, and he was requesting approval for the second building to be about 4 percent larger.

Kay is looking to construct the second building at 8,300 square feet, 300  square feet more than approved.

Sanders attributed the increases “to just finalizing the plans and proceeding with some of the common areas that we couldn’t really put into a lease agreement.” 

“We apologize for not, you know, mentioning it or keeping you apprised of it,” Sanders said.

 

Irked board

Christine Galvin, as the only member of the planning board at the time the project was reviewed and approved, said on Aug. 2, “Many months and many hours” were spent “reviewing this project to assure [the] result was as best as it could be.”

Galvin continued, “And I have to say that I can’t believe I’m sitting here now listening to an applicant tell the board that it just decided to do what I wanted to, regardless of what the plan was.” She said Sanders’s explanation for why — “It came to finalizing the plans” — was not a justification.

“We can have a discussion all we want about what we want this applicant to do at this point,” she said. “But frankly, I have no confidence in the applicant.” Galvin said she’s not “inclined to help the applicant in this situation.”

Kay and three other entities paid $511,000 for the 20 adjacent acres to the Grove at Maple Point in December 2021. The tentative vision is a mix of retail, townhomes, and apartments for part of the former Bender melon farm; the rest of the farm is being preserved as open space.

Speaking specifically about the project, Galvin said there were never any decorative timber barriers (which are already installed) proposed in the original approved plan, something touched on by Palleschi as he was updating the board. 

She also said the planning board was never given an explanation as to why a retaining wall on the Stonewell Plaza side of the development could not be used. One of the plaza’s tenants had issues with flooding.

Galvin was also concerned about modifications made to the site that will now affect stormwater runoff.  

Baker asked for a second on the motion to hold a public hearing at the Sept. 6 meeting on the modification requests; no second was given.  

 

Earlier problems

In April, the owner of the Something Olde Something New consignment shop claimed construction at the Route 85A site was to blame for earlier flooding at her store. 

It happened during an especially heavy rainfall in November of last year, and caused the shop to close in the midst of the Christmas shopping season.

During the March 9 town board meeting, Bruce Moses, husband of shop owner Karen Moses, told board members Something Olde Something New had flooded because of the ongoing construction work at the development project to the rear of the plaza.

Moses said runoff from the development site was being directed toward a ditch located directly behind Stonewell Plaza. 

He told the board on March 9 there had been no response “of any kind” from Kay about reimbursing his wife — who had been seeking $16,500 — for the damage to her store, and that Kay had run “roughshod” over the couple. 

Moses told The Enterprise in April that New Scotland appeared to be “bending over backwards to accommodate” Kay. He later went further, stating the town was “protecting Ron Kay, and that’s really ugly.”

The town’s assessment was that Kay’s project was not the cause of the flooding. 

A Nov. 12, 2021 inspection note, co-signed by New Scotland code-enforcement officers Tim Lippert and Lance Moore, said that, when the two men arrived on site that day, they observed inch-deep “muddy and silted” flooding inside of Something Olde Something New.

The officers’ exterior inspection found “multiple failures in the gutter system, as well as clogging from leaves and debris,” and that some downspouts had been detached “and not installed properly.”

However, the inspection note did mention that “the temporary ditch from the adjacent work site had a small breach, allowing water from the site to contribute to the failing gutters.”

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