Planned for Mill Hill

Another facility for patients with dementia

GUILDERLAND — A new company wants to create a memory-care site for aging patients with dementia as part of Mill Hill’s undeveloped fourth phase, which was slated 20 years ago for nursing care. The company would be in direct competition with Atria Guilderland.

Architect Stuart Markowitz told the planning board here last week that Crestmoore Community Corp. wants to build a 6,000-square-foot professional building and a 142-bed assisted-living facility at Mill Hill. The plan is smaller than the 12,000-square-foot building and 160-bed facility originally approved for the development, Markowitz said.

Atria Director Donna Sickler voiced opposition to the plan that would put a competitor “in our own backyard.” She said that the intent of the development was to have “a continuum of care” nearby for seniors who move from independent residences built in the first phase, to senior-friendly living spaces, proposed for the second and third phases.

The Michael’s Group, of the Capital Region, is the developer for 74 senior townhouse units in the second and third Mill Hill phases. The fourth phase, she said, originally called for “skilled nursing care.” Atria provides assisted living care, she said, and has a small memory-care division.

Fred Straub, the chief developer with Crestmoore, said that a market study showed that a memory-care facility would be in demand in the Capital Region.

“We don’t get into the competition,” said planning board Chairman Stephen Feeney. “We do need to look at the laws.” He said that the board would consider site-plan issues like traffic flow and building placement for the proposal.

The board discussed the amount of parking shown for Crestmoore’s proposal, Crestmoore’s plan called for 154 parking spaces, based on town code for the type of building proposed.

“Once we get an operator, we’ll get an idea” of the number of staff spaces needed, Markowitz said.

Feeney suggested that he “bank some of the parking” if he finds that few spots are needed.

“We’d be happy to do that, really,” Markowitz said.

He said that the memory-care facility is designed for clients who are not yet in nursing homes. Because of their conditions, he said, two-thirds of the clients do not drive.

Parking was designed near the property line, which, Feeney said, could make snow removal difficult. Markowitz said that the design accounted for wetlands on the property, and that it called for permeable pavement.

He said that the professional building would accommodate about 65 full-time staff members.

The board said that a pedestrian connection should be built between the site and the Stewart’s Shop that was built as part of Phase One.

Planning board attorney Linda Clark advised Crestmoore to seek counsel as it negotiates the permitting process within the town, to see if its proposal meets the Phase Four designation.

Other business

In recent business, the planning board:

— Approved a request to allow Bettie’s Cakes owner John Murphy and his wife to set up their double-decker bus at Hewitt’s in Guilderland, as they did over the past summer.

“We are the world’s only double-decker cupcake stand,” Murphy said. “I never thought I’d be standing before a board, talking about a mobile cupcake stand.”

The Murphys own Bettie’s Cakes, a shop in Saratoga, and also run the mobile stand.

Murphy said that they have all needed permits, but that sit-down restaurants must offer restrooms, unless they are on wheels.

“That would be us,” he said.

Hewitt’s, on Western Avenue, allows the Murphys’ customers to use its restrooms, and the reciprocity helps the nursery store by bringing in cupcake shoppers, Murphy said;

— Approved a site plan to allow a yoga studio at 1467 Western Ave., the site of a busy orthodontic office, with the condition that the final plan establish a traffic pattern for the site.

“You’d never design it like this, but it’s there,” Feeney said about the corner lot with entrances on Fuller Road and Western Avenue.

“The parking is a mess, but it does function,” agreed resident Don Reeb, who heads the McKownville neighborhood association.

“A little paint and signage might go a long way,” Feeney said;

 — Agreed to amend a Haven Hills plat and allow its safe building line to be altered, to allow owner Ruth Novak to build a master bedroom on the side of the home near the line. Novak asked for the alteration on the advice of her engineer. The line was placed on the original plat to prevent slippage on the slope near the home.

“We’re only going out 20 feet from the edge of the house,” she said. “There are trees on the property and they’re all straight.”

The board approved the request unanimously, but board member James Cohen said that he was uncomfortable with the request.

Clark cautioned Novak about the board’s lack of responsibility for the alteration. She urged Novak to be comfortable with her engineer’s advice before she proceeds.

“If it falls down, it’s not our fault. It’s the engineer’s fault,” said board member and architect Thomas Robert; and

— Approved a site plan to allow “Mommy and Me” classes in Park Place Plaza on Western Avenue.

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