70-lot subdivision proposed on site of former Guilderland pig farm

— From Google Earth

A first-look proposal recently presented by the Carver Companies to the Guilderland Development Planning Committee seeks to build a 70-lot subdivision across Route 146 from Tawasentha Park. One of the properties included as part of the project was once owned by an infamous Guilderland pig farmer.

GUILDERLAND — A very preliminary proposal for a 70-lot cluster subdivision on 87 acres of land along Route 146 and 800 feet off of Route 20 via  suburban side road certainly offers a new spin to the phrase, “Sleep like the dead.”

The plan from Carver Companies was presented to the Guilderland Development Planning Committee during an early-morning meeting on Tuesday.

The meetings, as town planner Kenneth Kovalchik explained during one in February, are a first chance for various department staff to provide developers with feedback on topics such as traffic and environmental impacts, open space and street layout, stormwater management, and whether there’s enough infrastructure to accommodate such a proposal. 

The package submitted to committee members on Sept. 21 was not a formal request. That appeal would go to the planning board, which has yet to receive an application. 

Carver’s proposal is to build the 70 homes on what’s currently four separate parcels of land, three of which are owned by either Karl or Ken Barth, who is a vice president at Carver. 

To determine the number of lots allowed in a conservation or cluster development, Guilderland’s code says a developer has to submit a conventional subdivision plan to show the number of buildable lots that are allowed by an area’s particular zoning.

The proposed development is located in the Residential Overlay (RO40) District, where the minimum conventional lot size is 40,000 square feet. For a cluster development in an R40 District, the minimum lot size is 15,000 square feet.

A developer receives a density bonus, additional buildable lots, for providing “certain amenities,” like putting in sidewalks, protecting historically-significant resources, or allowing public access to conservation areas “in their cluster/conservation subdivision,” according to the town’s zoning code. Using a conventional subdivision plan, the developer shows 35 single-family homes spread across 87 acres. The housing number doubles when a cluster plan is employed.

The fourth property in the proposed development has a history far more colorful than any of its neighboring project parcels, perhaps the least of which is it’s the final resting place of the prior tenant.

William Vojnar lived at 6458 Posson Road for over 75 years. He is buried in the Vojnar Family Cemetery there.

Vojnar was a pig farmer who riled some residents of the 60-home subdivision that sprung up near his farm, causing run-ins with the town of Guilderland. 

Around the turn of the millennium, Vojnar kept some 275 pigs along with an assortment of chickens, ducks, and cows on his farm that was smack dab in the middle of suburbia. In addition to livestock, Vojnar also maintained his own mountain of garbage consisting of scores of rusted-out barrels, thousands of tires, and hundreds of old cars, 377 by one count. 

Vojnar, who had been employed by the town, working at its landfill, asserted that the town had him put some of the refuse, including old cars, on his acreage.

Encroaching development on Vojnar’s 33-acre farm saw new residents, specially those from Windmill Estates — one of whom freely admitted that neither he nor many of fellow neighbors had ever had an actual conversation with Vojnar —  complaining to the town hall about stray farm animals, piles of junk, and offensive odors.

Guilderland made an attempt to get Vojnar to clean up the property, which eventually happened after the town threatened him with a $97,000 cleaning bill and a group of volunteers stepped in to take care of the place. 

But it didn’t take too long for the town to start back up with the citations for Vojnar allowing his livestock to get loose and damage neighbors’ properties. The issue landed in Guilderland Town Court, where Vojanar acted as his own attorney. The judge in the case found in favor of Vojnar, who died in 2015

Prior to his death, Vojnar received approval for a 12-lot cemetery at 6458 Posson Road. The Enterprise reported at the time that, upon his death, his property was to be turned over to the state, “never to be sold or developed,” according to his daughter, Doris Vojnar, who later clarified that the farm would be left to the state — never to be developed — 50 years after her father’s death and only if  no one in the Vojnar family wants it; it cannot be sold, she said in 2009

During a planning board meeting this spring, Kovalchik said that the town board in April had approved an easement for Barth, providing him access from Route 146 to the proposed development project by way of an existing asphalt driveway that runs through property currently housing Guilderland’s Parks and Recreation Department.

Prior to receiving an easement from the town, Kovalchik said Barth had no legal access to Route 146. The planning board approved a minor subdivision for Barth in late April, signing off on Barth’s proposal to divvy up his 37-acre property into a 33- and 4-acre parcels, the smaller of which contains Barth’s home. In exchange for the easement, the town got one of its own: a 20 foot-wide trail right-of-way that runs for about 1,900 feet along Barth’s eastern and southern property lines. 

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