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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, August 17, 2006

House fire kills 76-year-old resident

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – The family of Amelia Lee is mourning her unexpected death; She died when her home at 32 Lower Flat Rock Rd. burned on Aug. 9.

Lee had been a resident of Lower Flat Rock Road for about 42 years, said her daughter, Charlene Breedon. Lee lived there with her daughter, Mary, who was not at home at the time of the fire.

The call came in around 2:42 p.m., said the Onesquethaw fire chief, Fred Spaulding.

Fire crews were faced with heavy smoke and flames coming from the first floor of the house upon arriving at the scene, Spaulding said.

"Smoke could be seen from a few miles away," he said.

Firefighters were not aware that Lee was home, said Craig Apple, chief deputy with the Albany County Sheriff’s Department. The scene became a somber one after the body was found, said Spaulding.

An autopsy was performed at Albany Medical Center Hospital by Dr. Jeffrey Hubbard. The cause of death was determined to have been carbon monoxide poisoning due to smoke inhalation, according to the Sheriff’s Department.

In addition to Onesquethaw, volunteer fire departments from New Salem, Selkirk, North Bethlehem, East Berne, and Elsmere responded as well as rescue squads from Delmar and Voorheesville.

The Sheriff’s Department is investigating the fire, and has not yet determined the cause of the fire, Apple told The Enterprise.

"The house was basically gutted," said Spaulding.

He told The Enterprise that the crews did a great job, but that it is especially tough when someone dies.

"It beats you up, when you know there is a fatality," he said, "It plays on your mind. You ask yourself, ‘Should I have done something differently"’"

Spaulding said there was at least one working smoke detector in the house. He added that homes should carry a smoke detector on each floor, including basements and attics.

He recommends that smoke detector batteries be checked monthly and should be replaced at least once a year, twice a year for added caution.

Spaulding has been with the Onesquethaw Volunteer Fire Department since 1973. He said that the first fire fatality in his experience was on President’s Day of 1984, in Unionville.

LaGrange, a town board member in New Scotland, who runs a 250-cow dairy farm near by, stopped at the scene of the fire before Wednesday’s board meeting, and learned of Lee’s death. He told The Enterprise that the Lee family had been friends of his family for years. Lee’s sons, Raymond and Michael used to help out on his farm, he said.

"You kind of get knocked back a step when something like that happens," he said, "There is no other word for it except tragic."

Moreau protests town fees

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – David Moreau, a large landowner in town, complained to the town board last week about the fees he has to pay to divide his land.

"Because of my zone, I need to go before the planing board. Instead of $200, I pay $1,500," Moreau told the board.

Moreau owns about 85 acres in a commercial zone on Youmans Road.

Because of his zoning, Moreau is subject to higher lot fees when subdividing his land. The lot fees were raised on Dec. 8, 2004, Paul Cantlin, the town’s zoning administrator and chief building inspector told The Enterprise.

According to the current lot fees, Cantlin said, "Any subdivision that falls within a commercial or industrial zone that is five acres or more, or 500 feet of road frontage, must go before the planning board."

The current fees are, as Moreau said, $200 for minor subdivisions, and $1,500 if it goes before the planning board, Cantlin told The Enterprise.

All subdivisions, both minor and major, had a set $200 lot fee prior to the board’s 2004 decision to raise them, Cantlin said this week.

Currently, Moreau wants to divide a 36-acre plot that is already divided by Youmans Road. One side of the road would be about 33 acres, and the other side of the road would be about three acres.

Moreau’s main problem with the fees is that there is no distinction between subdivision types. "Some projects, no matter how trivial, go before the planning board," Moreau told The Enterprise "That is not a good gauge to measure intensity of a project."

His current subdivision project would fall under the category of a minor subdivision, he told the board.

A minor subdivision, by the town’s definition, is one that requires no town-run public utilities, creates or extends no town road, and has four or fewer lots. A major subdivison requires public utilities, extends or creates a town road, and has more than four lots.

"They should be called minor-impact subdivision and major-impact subdivision," Moreau told The Enterprise.

Supporting the parks

R. Mark Dempf, the town’s engineer, explained at last Wednesday’s meeting that "lot fees for this town are established to go to park funds."

The cost of maintaining the parks far exceeds money that is brought in from lot fees, Cantlin told The Enterprise, adding that there is a line item for the parks in the budget as well.

The money provided by lot fees must be used for the parks, Cantlin said. "It cannot go into the general fund," he said.

Douglas LaGrange, a board member who took office seven months ago, told The Enterprise, "Rules are the rules. We can’t cater to one individual."

Town supervisor Ed Clark told The Enterprise this week, "I think the lower fee should be raised instead of the higher fee being lowered."

Both LaGrange and Clark are Republicans; Democratic town-board members could not be reached for comment, or declined comment this week.

Moreau has never had to pay the $1,500 lot fee, and has 60 days to do so, Cantlin explained.

Moreau told The Enterprise that, in his opinion, "A minor subdivision should be treated with a lower rate, and a major subdivision with a higher rate."

Cantlin said it is unclear from last week’s meeting what action the board will take on this matter. "They can change this by resolution," he said.

Proposed developments

The board heard about two major development proposals that will require town board action to go forward.

Charles M. Carrow Sr., president and chief executive officer of Carrow Real Estate Services, spoke of plans for a senior housing community on New Scotland Road at the old Tee-Time Golf site. The plans are for 30 single-story units, each with a two-car garage that will sell for $250,000 to $300,000. The homes will be for people 55 years and older.

Carrow was requesting that the town adopt a senior overlay zoning regulation. An overlay zone is an additional zone that lays over the existing zone, and has additional requirements the development must satisfy.

Dean Devito of Maldel, LLc requested a Planned Unit Development for Krumkill Road. A PUD permits a mix of building types and land uses, clustered buildings and housing units. Twenty buildings of six units each are planned for west of Schoolhouse Road; each unit will sell for between $250,000 and $350,000. The town board will consider the proposal next month.

Other business

In other business at its August meeting, the board:

– Authorized issuing serial bonds for a Clarksville Water District extension;

– Renewed the bond anticipation notes for the water-district van;

– Amended the section on compensatory time in the town’s employee policy manual to conform to the Fair Labor Standards Act;

– Adopted a right-to-farm law;

– Adopted a noise-control law;

– Scheduled a public hearing regarding the suspension of large-scale development in medium-density residential and residential two-acre zones for Sept. 13, at 6 p.m.;

– Appointed Eileen Mulderry as dog warden;

– Renewed its contract with Affordable Waste for one year;

– Granted permission to sell two highway-department trucks;

– Heard from the town assessor, Julie Nooney, on the procedure for an inventory update over the next three years;

– Announced the town’s participation in a special program to commemorate the fifth anniversary of 9/11 initiated by the Voorheesville Public Library;

– Approved probationary membership for Amy Siegfried in the New Salem Fire Department;

– Announced that Clarksville will host Clarksville Heritage Day on Aug.26; and

– Announced that Feura Bush will be hosting this year’s Plumfest on Sept.16.

Frank Smtih dies:
V’ville’s pizza man remembered

By Tyler Schuling

Frank L. Smith, Jr., who ran a popular Voorheesville tavern that bore his name and centered a village, died on Monday, Aug. 14, 2006 at his home in Boynton Beach, Fla. after a short illness.

Mr. Smith celebrated his 77th birthday just 10 days before, on Aug. 4.

For 35 years Mr. Smith and his wife, Gertrude, owned and operated Smith’s Tavern, known for its award-winning pizza.

"He was the greatest person I ever met in all my life"in all my life," Mrs. Smith said. "I loved him. He created the greatest pizza."

This year, the Smiths celebrated the 50th anniversary of their June 17 wedding.

Mr. Smith was a respected businessman, a faithful friend, and a generous employer, say his former workers, who call themselves Mr. Smith’s friends. They remember Mr. Smith as a great man who enjoyed life.

Each year, Mr. Smith and his wife hosted Christmas parties and summer picnics for employees at his home on Saratoga Lake; in the summer guests went boating.

"I was always treated like family. It was a real pleasure working for them," Tony Gies, a former employee, said. "Frank and Gert were the nicest, most generous people. And anyone would tell you the same thing."

Barbara Vink, who also worked at Smith’s Tavern, remembers Mr. Smith’s mother, Lillian, who, with her husband, Frank Sr., owned the tavern before Frank Jr. Lillian corresponded with hometown soldiers fighting in World War II and donated her collection of letters to the Voorheesville Public Library.

"The letters are available to the public," said Ms. Vink, who works at the library.

John McClelland, who now, with John Mellon, owns and operates Smith’s Tavern, described Mr. Smith as a hard-working, selfless individual who was loved by everybody. Mr. McClelland also said Mr. Smith introduced the best pizza, was well-known in the Albany area, loved his job, and loved people.

"We left Frank and Gert specials on the menu".I loved the guy," Mr. McClelland said.

As well as the menu, Mr. Smith left his mark on the restaurant’s décor. A model-train enthusiast, he put a track and two trains inside Smith’s Tavern to run around the perimeter of the dining room, near the ceiling. He maintained the trains for the current owners after his retirement, and decorated the track for holidays and special occasions.

"Mr. Smith was a long-standing, well-respected member of the community and his tavern was renowned," said Ed Clark, long-time Voorheesville mayor and current New Scotland Supervisor.


Mr. Smith is survived by his wife, Gertrude (Gert) Sprenzel Smith; one sister, Dottie Wright of New Bern, N.C.; three neices, Sherry Flansburg, Rhonda Flansburg and Jessica Smith; and one nephew, James Smith, Jr. His brother, James Smith, died before him.

A funeral service will be held on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Fredendall Funeral Home in Altamont. Friends may call on Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. The burial will be in Memory’s Garden, in Colonie.

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