New Scotland shapes its future

— New York State

A map of the Greenway area shows that it encompasses towns from Washington County to the Bronx. The town is seeking a grant as a Greenway community.

NEW SCOTLAND — The town is applying for a $10,000 grant to update its comprehensive land-use plan, a process it began several years ago.

At the same time, a committee on developing a hamlet in the Route 85 corridor had its first meeting last Wednesday.

And then on Tuesday, at a planning board meeting, residents commented on the plan the committee is considering — a village center, surrounded by a more suburban area, and finally an outer ring with more vacant land.

Grant application

A special town board meeting held at 6 p.m., oversaw the approval of an application for a Hudson River Valley Greenway Grant. All four board members present voted for it.

The grant program offers $5,000 to $25,000 to communities in the Hudson River Valley Greenway, an area bordering both sides of the Hudson River, stretching from Washington County to the Bronx. Projects funded by the grant must fit with the criteria of natural and cultural resource protection, economic development, public access, regional planning, and heritage and environmental education.

New Scotland Supervisor Doug LaGrange told The Enterprise the town began comprehensive planning a number of years ago. However, following a moratorium on big-box stores and the start of a hamlet study for the Route 85A corridor, public hearings and professional expertise are needed, amounting to expenses of about $20,000, he said. The town would pay for the expenses while the grant would cover the rest. At the meeting, LaGrange said the town would tentatively put that amount into the budget.

LaGrange said the town will submit the application before the Sept. 9 deadline.

“I think they’re relatively quick to come back,” he said, although he is unsure of exactly how long it will take to receive an answer on the grant.

At the meeting, it was stated that Ted Kolankowski of the engineering firm Barton & Loguidice had offered to complete the application pro bono. It was later inferred that the firm later on could be unable to bid on being hired for consultation by the town for that reason.

Hamlet rezoning workshop

At 6:30 p.m. the Hamlet Development District Study Committee met for the first time to review the draft zoning for the Route 85 and 85A corridor. The hamlet rezoning, which had been discussed at meetings of town residents over a year ago, would adjust the laws so the commercial and residential area could be rezoned as a hamlet and redeveloped as a community and business center.

At the last town board meeting on Aug. 10, committee members were officially appointed: two planning board members, Thomas Hart and Jo Ann Davies; two zoning board members, Edith Abrams and Lance Moore; and two town board members, Adam Greenberg and William Hennessy Jr. Davies was replaced with planning board member Dan Leuning about a week ago because Davies had time constraints, according to Hennessy, who is chairing the committee.


— Capital District Transportation Committee
The hamlet zone study area includes both the Route 85 and 85A corridor and surrounding areas in a map from in a draft of the New Scotland Hamlet Master Plan, prepared by Behan & Associates in 2012.


Marian Hull, of business management consultant AECOM, was present to explain the study’s findings. Using a PowerPoint presentation, Hull went over the various plans for the area that surrounds the intersections of routes 85 and 85A.

According to Hull, once the proposed zoning changes have gone through various review processes, public hearings, and meetings, if approved, the changes to the hamlet would take place over 20 years or more.

Hull described three areas that would be in the hamlet: the hamlet center, the hamlet expansion, and the hamlet development area. The hamlet center, said Hull, would have a “traditional village-center design,” with commercial buildings and multifamily homes that could be up to three stories tall and would have to be at or near the sidewalk.

The hamlet expansion area, adjacent to the hamlet center, would be a walkable area with a mix of residential and commercial developments including single family homes. Buildings would be limited to two stories in height. The developmental area would have more vacant land and flexibility on the use of space.

Additional design standards included building entrances being oriented towards the sidewalk, with parking towards the rear or side of the buildings, discouraging flat roofs, and designating 30 percent of an area being developed as open space.

The committee discussed the Route 85A corridor, with concern over the vista on the western side of the road. In her presentation, Hull listed recommendations such as requiring developments to be set back from the highway. Suggestions brought up at the meeting included setting up sidewalks and parking spaces, and lowering the speed limit.

Hull pointed out that, because the state owns the highway, it will have to be retrofitted as development occurs rather than enacting immediate changes. Parking spaces, for example, would require widening the road, something that would have to go before the state. Lowering the speed limit, she said, could be possible if development were to occur on the road, setting up a case before the state to reduce the speed limit.

Hennessy said that he expected only one or two meetings to follow last Wednesday’s workshop. “I don’t anticipate many meetings here,” he said, adding, “This is not a vitally official committee, this is just a workshop group.”

Speaking to The Enterprise on Tuesday, Greenberg described the meeting as a chance for the planning and zoning boards to offer their feedback on the proposed zoning changes before the town decides on whether or not to vote the changes into law.

“We want their feedback to decide,” he said. “We want to get as much input as we can.”

Discussions of hamlet rezoning first began eight years ago when developments in the hamlet zone were proposed, said Hennessy. A year and a half ago, a committee made up of town residents and headed by the Capital District Transportation Committee, which provided the grant money for the study, developed the proposed changes using public and professional input, according to Greenberg.

Once the proposed revisions have been reviewed and approved by the committee, they will go before the town, which will bring about public hearings on the proposed revisions.

According to Hennessy, the potential grant money from the Hudson River Valley Greenway Grant Fund has a direct connection to the hamlet rezoning.

“We’re trying to stay ahead of the curve a bit by trying to update the comprehensive land-use plan in the town,” he said, adding that the hamlet zoning goals are part of the overall land-use plan in the town. He said, in order to avoid making changes to the plan twice, it would be best to change the hamlet zoning first.

Hennessy says he hopes to have the hamlet zoning updated by the end of the year, and expects the land-use plan to be accomplished the following winter.


At a planning board meeting on Tuesday, the potential hamlet rezoning was addressed during a public-comments session at the end of the meeting.

Addressing the board and the public, Abrams went over the goals set forth in the draft for hamlet rezoning: maintaining “small-town character” and minimizing the impact of development.

She added that goals included connecting the proposed hamlet area to the Albany County Rail Trail and reducing high-speed and heavy traffic. Describing the town commons at the center of the proposed hamlet, she displayed a sketch of what it could look like: a series of houses clustered in a town square.

Abrams concluded that she would like to avoid the “urban feeling” and “industrial look” of a development, referencing a proposed development off of route 85A that is under review by the planning board.

John Hall, an owner of the hair salon Studio 85 in Stonewell Plaza on Route 85, defended the development, pointing out that similar projects like Kensington Woods were underway. He stated that residential developments would bring customers to businesses like his. He added that new developments would be beneficial, comparing it to Stonewell Plaza, which he described as out of date and cobbed together.

“Stonewell is old isn’t it?” he asked.

“Older than you,” replied an audience member.

Saul Abrams, Edie’s husband, asked that “well-painted little boxes” not be constructed in lieu of big-box developments, but that construction of businesses and homes be unique to the small-town community. The Abrams have a home on Route 85A.

Town board member Patricia Snyder, after stating that she would not take either side of the argument, remarked that there were communities with developments constructed in the style she believed many residents wanted — separate rural-style townhouses, for example.

Planning board Chairman Charles Voss stated that the development off of Route 85A was still in the early stages of being approved, adding that the public could take note of upcoming meetings when it would be discussed.

Planning board and hamlet re-zoning committee member Thomas Hart added that these concerns would be taken into account at the next committee meeting.

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