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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 28, 2006

In split vote Hydrotech is denied variance

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – Dean Van Alstyne and his business, Hydrotech, will not be moving to Unionville.

The zoning board of appeals voted, 3 to 2, Tuesday night against a use variance for Martin Flansburg, who owns the property in the residential hamlet of Unionville that VanAlstyne was hoping to buy.

VanAlstyne, and his wife, Patricia, have run their bulk-plant maintenance and emergency spill-response business, Hydrotech, from South Troy for six years. They were planning on purchasing the property from Flansburg and building a 60-by-100 foot steel building to house their equipment.

Because they planned to use the property, which is located in a residential zone, for a commercial purpose, it would require a use variance from the zoning board. The use variance could be granted by the board only after Flansburg proved unnecessary hardship, according to the zoning law.

In proving such hardship, all the criteria, determined by the state and outlined in the zoning law, must be met. Flansburg had to prove to the board that he could not "realize a reasonable return," which would need to be backed up with financial evidence; that the hardship was unique; that the use variance would not alter the character of the neighborhood; and that the hardship was not self-created.

Flansburg provided the board with documentation from two individuals who had been interested in purchasing the property, but then became disinterested when they learned of the poor water situation. A well test determined the water pressure to be three gallons per minute, which is not sufficient for a residential dwelling. The property has previously been used as a motel, a grocery/convenience store, and a horse stable, Flansburg said, in explaining to the board that a large garage would not alter the district’s character.

Three of the five board members – Ronald Von Ronne, Adam Greenberg, and William Hennessey – agreed that Flansburg did not meet all the criteria for a use variance.

"There would be a change to that immediate district," Von Ronne, chairman of the board, told The Enterprise. That property falls in a residential zone, and it is obvious that the proposed building would not fit with the zoning regulations for that area, he said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, board member Adam Greenberg asked Flansburg if he had ever listed the property with a real estate agency. Flansburg said he had not.

Without listing it with a real estate agent, Greenberg told Flansburg, he could not make a case that he was unable to sell it as a residential lot for the same price that he could sell it to the VanAlstynes, Greenberg said.

Wayne LaChappelle, who along with Robert Parmenter, voted in favor of the variance, told The Enterprise that more proof of hardship would have really helped Flansburg’s cause. "The only thing that was a weak link was that he didn’t show enough hardship," he said.

Greenberg told The Enterprise that about 90 percent of use variances are turned down, while 90 percent of area variances are approved.

An area variance allows for the use of land that is not permitted by the dimensional or physical requirements of the zoning law, such as when a building would not comply with setback, height, lot or area requirements. A use variance allows landowners to put their land to a use not permitted by the zoning law.

Public opposition

Before voting, the board held a public hearing on the issue, where board members posed numerous questions to Flansburg and VanAlstyne, and then opened the floor to the public.

"Won’t you need water"" asked Judy Fritz, a Unionville resident who lives near the property. Fritz said she believes that Hydrotech is a valuable business and provides a much-needed service in the community, but was concerned about potential pollution and contamination, in the event of a spill.

John Dearstyne told the board, "In my opinion, this hardship has been self-created." He indicated that it is a well-known fact that water is very difficult to find in Unionville, and, therefore, the situation is not unique. Flansburg should have researched the availability of water before he bought the property, he told The Enterprise.

"I was very pleased with the decision," he said, "but I was disappointed it was a split decision."

Patricia VanAlstyne was disappointed with the board’s decision. She and her husband live just a few miles up the road from Flansburg’s property, and were looking forward to bringing the business close to home.

"It looks like we’re going to have to keep looking for the right spot," she told The Enterprise.

She said that she and her husband have no plans to appeal the decision.

New development leads old guard to query trustees

By Saranac Hale Spencer

VOORHEESVILLE — On the east side last month and in the south end this month, village residents have been bringing questions about development before the board of trustees.

Last month, Locust Drive resident Michael Canfora suggested that the village use water as a bargaining chip to keep the proposed Colonie Country Club development at least 50 feet away from houses on his road in Scotch Pine, the decades-old development that abuts the country club. Amedore Homes development company has proposed building 37 houses on the golf course at the country club; the houses will start at $400,000. Canfora presented the board with a petition signed by his neighbors supporting his position.

Canfora presented another petition, also signed by his neighbors, asking the board to preserve the cul-de-sac at the end of Locust Drive. David Moreau, a developer, owns land on the other side of the cul-de-sac and has a variance that allows him to drive from his property through the cul-de-sac and onto Locust Drive.

At September’s meeting on Tuesday night, residents of Moss Road, at the other end of the village, were concerned about their access to a sewer line that would come through their area if Eric King builds on six plots of land as he has proposed.

The planning board has not yet granted approval for King’s subdivision, but the village board has granted "conceptual verbal approval," said Trustee David Cardona, for King to connect those six properties to sewer district one, which is the Salem Hills sewer district.

Michael Fluster, Eileen Draves, and Thomas O’Connor wanted to know if, as residents of Moss Road, they would be able to connect their homes to the sewer system when it comes through for the new houses.

"Somewhere someone’s going to have to do a study," said Deputy Mayor William Hotaling, referring to the capacity of the sewer system. "Somewhere someone’s going to have to pay for a study."

Trustee John Stevens estimated that the cost of such a study would be $7,500.

King may not get approval for his major subdivision, though. Long-time Conservation Advisory Commission member Robert Mudge said that the commission is recommending the planning board not approve the six-lot subdivision. Four of the lots are suitable for building, he said, but the two situated near Swift Road and Route 85A shouldn’t be developed.

"You really can’t do anything there without filling in the whole darn gully," said Mudge.

About eight years ago, King tried to develop the same area but didn’t get approval, Mudge said, because, if enough fill is brought in to build a house in the ravine, then there isn’t enough space for water to move properly and get absorbed into the soil. "You get a lot of dry [land] and one wet ditch," he said.

Other business

In other business at recent meetings, the board:

— Heard from Trustee Richard Berger that the bid for the firehouse renovation will go out on Oct. 26;

— Heard from the village’s attorney, Anne-Jo McTague, that there will be a public hearing regarding the zoning law on Oct. 24 at 6:30 p.m., before the village board meeting;

— Heard from Will Smith that the bids for a new truck for the Public Works Department were opened on Sept. 20; the village received three bids. The lowest was $34,425 from Sun Chevrolet in Chittenango, which he recommended the board accept.

The board voted unanimously to accept the bid, which includes the cost of delivery;

— Voted unanimously to enter into an agreement with Verizon to let the company put an antenna on the preexisting Nextel/Sprint tower, which is owned by Global Signal; and

—Heard from Deputy Mayor William Hotaling that the Planning Commission approved Jason Rogers’s sign for South Main Street and approved the subdivision of a lot at 24 Pine St.

For Vandervort, "Everyone is a potential customer"

By Rachel Dutil

VOORHEESVILLE – For local business owner, Jay Vandervort, the past six months have been "challenging but fun."

He has successfully started a promotional products business out of his home in Voorheesville. The company, NEXTiDEA Marketing, won an award in both May and June of this year as a "Top 20 Producer" nation-wide in the iPROMOTEu network. The award is given out monthly to the top 20 companies with the highest gross volume sales.

NEXTiDEA is an affiliate of iPROMOTEu, a network of promotional product distributors, based in Wayland, Mass., with around 280 affiliates in more than 40 states nation-wide. It was founded in 1999 by Ross Silverstein, who is the president and chief executive officer.

Vandervort started NEXTiDEA in April, 2006 with less than $5,000. He didn’t have the usual business start-up costs because iPROMOTEu provides the links to vendors.

Vandervort said that iPROMOTEu acts as an administrative support team for NEXTiDEA and its other affiliates.

Vandervort doesn’t just sell stuff, he helps his customers focus their promotional dollars, so they are not wasting their money, he told The Enterprise.

One of the reasons that he started NEXTiDEA, he said, was to "create my own schedule," and to be able to spend more time with his wife and two children.

"I am the sole employee of the company," Vandervort said.

He has three independent contractors who work for him; other than that, he is the only official employee of NEXTiDEA.

He works six days a week, he said. His days often start very early, and involve a lot of e-mail checking, text-messaging, and returning phone calls, he said.

He is usually at his home office until about 10 or 11 a.m., checking things off his to-do list for the day. He then takes off in his mobile office – his car – to go to any appointments he might have that day.

NEXTiDEA specializes in golf-tournament merchandise. Every Monday, there are at least a half-dozen golf tournaments for one charity or another, he said.

Vandervort also designs websites for companies to sell their promotional products. One of his largest customers, the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, has a link to a merchandise store on its website that was created by Vandervort. He says it is a growing aspect of the business.

Vandervort graduated from Clarkson University in Potsdam with a degree in marketing management. The university is now one of NEXTiDEA’s customers.

"Everybody is a potential customer," he said. "Every business uses some level of promotional products." He cited examples such as refrigerator magnets, and company pens.

Those are not the only products that NEXTiDEA offers, though. Vandervort said that there are between 600,000 and a million products that he can get for a customer. On the company website, nextideamarketing.com, customers can upload their company logo, and then superimpose it onto any of the products, he said, so they can see what a coffee mug would look like with their logo, for example.

"It’s a fun business when its done right, and my goal is to always do it right, so it will always be fun," he told The Enterprise.

Vandervort’s hope for the future is "to grow my business, spend more time with my family, and do things that I want to do." And, he says, he wants to do this with a 9.5 out of 10 on a quality scale.

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