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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, December 28, 2006
2006 in review:
Water, development shape New Scotland future
By Rachel Dutil
NEW SCOTLAND Much of the towns attention in 2006 was focused on planning for New Scotlands future.
A six-month moratorium on building in the northeast quadrant has minimized the development pressure in that area of town; negotiations between the towns of New Scotland and Bethlehem are ongoing, with hopes an intermunicipal water agreement may be reached in the near future; and the comprehensive land-use plan has been reviewed by a town- appointed committee, and may be updated if state aid and town-board approval are granted.
Late in 2005, the board was presented a petition, sponsored by the Northeast Neighborhood Association, requesting that the area be re-zoned to a residential conservation (R2) district, which would require residential lots be a minimum of two acres. Some residents said this would preserve the character of the area.
Some other large property owners from the medium-density residential (MDR) zone submitted a petition opposing a re-zone to R2. Other concerns were expressed to the board about availability of water and sewer resources for development, and doubts were raised about future developments spurred by current building.
The northeast quadrant borders the suburban towns of Bethlehem and Guilderland, and is the closest part of New Scotland to the city of Albany; it remains mostly rural.
The board was in agreement that rezoning the MDR zone to an R2 zone would not appropriately handle the problem, Democratic Councilman Richard Reilly told The Enterprise earlier.
Reilly suggested that the board adopt a moratorium while the zoning in the northeast quadrant is reviewed. The six-month time period would "put pressure on ourselves to get things done," Reilly told the board, but explained that the moratorium could be extended if needed.
The town board, in a split vote at its September meeting, passed the law suspending large-scale development in the northeast corner of town. The three Democratic board members voted in favor, while the two Republican members voted against the law.
The law states that, for six months from its effective date, "No applications for subdivision approval, site-plan approval, special-use permits, or for planned unit developments shall be accepted or considered by officials or boards of the town of New Scotland."
The moratorium will expire in mid-March, Supervisor Ed Clark told The Enterprise. Clark said this week that it is possible the moratorium will need to be extended, but he doesnt know how likely it is.
Exceptions to the law include the "maintenance, repair, replacement, modification or alteration" of structures that do not increase the size of the original structure by more than half; applications that are pending before the planning board or town board for review; applications that have been approved by either board; and applications for residential subdivisions that create 10 lots or fewer.
Two substantial planned unit developments are exempt from the moratorium. The Maldel development on Krumkill Road and the Kensington Woods development. Both have applications pending, and are therefore not restricted by the law.
The Kensington Woods development is still in its preliminary stage, but a viable water supply has been determined to be present there, Supervisor Clark said this week.
"It will be adequate for Kensington Woods and maybe more," he said.
The planned unit development is a 282-unit housing project proposed on 267 acres of land bisected by Hilton Road.
"All people would prefer to have municipal water, because many wells are unreliable," Clark previously told The Enterprise.
The towns of New Scotland and Bethlehem have been discussing an intermunicipal agreement for water in New Scotland.
Bethlehem owns the Vly Creek Reservoir, which is located in the town of New Scotland. A pipeline runs from the reservoir along Route 85, through New Salem and into Bethlehem. The homes along that road in New Salem have Bethlehem water from the reservoir piped to their homes. They are billed for their water by the town of Bethlehem.
New Scotland hopes to buy from Bethlehem a "specified amount of water for whatever purposes they choose to use it for," Oliver Holmes, the commissioner for public works in Bethlehem, told The Enterprise earlier.
Clark said this week that he has put in a few calls to Bethlehem’s supervisor and reports, "They have not settled on a response to our proposal for an agreement.
"I’m hoping they will accept it," he added.
If the agreement were to be worked out, the water would come from either the Vly Creek Reservoir or the city of Albany, and would be piped to residences in New Scotland. Bethlehem would "sell the quantity that New Scotland needs," Holmes said, and New Scotland would then bill the customers.
"The very earliest, most optimistic date would be five years from now," Clark told The Enterprise earlier regarding a timetable for the water district.
"We’re working very hard on a water district out there," he said this week. "We’re trying to find funding for it."
The New Salem Water District project is listed in this years Intended Use Plan, which is necessary to be eligible for state funding, Susan Mayer, director of corporate communications for the Environmental Facilities Corporation, said earlier.
The applicant must first submit a pre-listing form, explaining the general parameters of the project, she said.
The next step is to submit an application. With the application, various documents are required, such as engineering reports, environmental reports, and financial reports, she said.
The New Salem Water District is listed in the IUP with a score of 60, and a project cost of more than $5 million; it is to serve 486 residents.
The score is based on both technical and non-technical criteria. According to the IUP, the criteria are: maximum contaminant level/treatment technique violations, sanitary code violations, system reliability/dependability issues, governmental needs, and financial needs.
The projects with the greatest risk to the public health are given the highest priority, and therefore, a higher score.
"After projects are scored, they are ranked. The highest score is ranked first," said Mayer. Projects are awarded funding in order of rank, she explained.
The town board established a preliminary committee in January to make suggestions to the board about revising the 1994 comprehensive plan. At that Jan. 11 meeting, Douglas LaGrange, a Republican board member, said that most municipalities update their comprehensive plans every five years.
The committee consists of town board members Reilly and LaGrange, planning board Chairman Robert Stapf, planning board member Charles Voss, zoning board members William Hennessey, Adam Greenberg, and Robert Parmenter, and the towns zoning administrator and building inspector, Paul Cantlin.
The group met once a month until it had come up with a list of preliminary findings, which were brought to the town board at its September meeting.
The committees consensus was that updating, in some capacity, should be done on the comprehensive plan, LaGrange told The Enterprise earlier.
The plan, he said, has a lot of "little things that could warrant attention just to clean it up."
A comprehensive plan update is "very, very past overdue," Supervisor Clark said earlier.
The adoption of a six-month moratorium by the town board on areas of the northeast quadrant falling in medium-density residential (MDR) and residential conservation (R2) zones, indicates the need for a new plan, LaGrange also earlier told The Enterprise.
LaGrange, at the Oct. 11 board meeting, asked for the boards approval to apply for the 2006 Quality Communities Grant, with funds to be allocated for use in updating the comprehensive plan.
Though the decision to update the comprehensive land-use plan has not yet been made, the board approved the preparation and submission of the grant application to the state with the provision that it see the application before it is submitted.
The board will later decide whether or not to accept the money, if it is awarded, and move forward with updating the towns comprehensive land-use plan.
The grant money would be used to fund professional review of the towns land-use plan and pay for more modern methods of land-use planning, Clark told The Enterprise this week.
If awarded the grant, the town would need to add in a percentage of the funds, Clark said, and that money is already in the budget.
Clark is not sure when the grant recipients will be announced.
The grant is one that is flexible, said Chuck Voss, who sits on the planning board, and is part of a committee of grant writers. The town board can choose not to accept the money, he said.
"This is a good opportunity to have money in our pockets," said LaGrange, at the November meeting when the board decided to apply for the grant.
2006 in Voorheesville
New mayor, new pastor, new theater group
By Saranac Hale Spencer
VOORHEESVILLE Under the leadership of a new mayor this year, the village grappled with doling out water and considered building a skate park.
The church on the village green came under new leadership, too, and the parks gazebo was home to community theater.
Facing further development, Voorheesville saw plans from the Amedore Homes development company to build luxury houses on land owned by the Colonie Country Club that will border the village, for which Amedore hopes to access to the village water supply. Residents of Locust Drive in Scotch Pine who own land that abuts the proposed development petitioned the village board to use the villages water as a bargaining chip that could keep the new houses at least 50 feet away from houses on Locust.
A local developer, Troy Miller, proposed a senior-housing complex near Stonington Hill Road and Route 85A and Eric Kings plans for developing the area between Swift Road and Crowridge Road continue to form.
Having served on the village board for four years, Robert Conway stepped up to the mayors post in March in an uncontested election. The former mayor, Jack Stevens, opted for a trustees position because he wanted to have more time to spend with family, he said at the time of the election.
"Watching Jack do the job helped me," Conway said on Wednesday. He’s had to organize his time better since taking on the job, he said, adding, "It’s certainly very interesting."
Renovating the firehouse was the biggest issue that he contended with in his first year as mayor, Conway said. Since the first bids came in high for the project, reworking the plans proved to be quite a project. Conway expects that this will continue to be a major issue in the village next year also; construction will start in January and continue for seven to nine months, he said.
Inter-municipal cooperation is another ongoing issue for the village, Conway said. The water interconnect between Voorheesville and Guilderland will be finished soon, he said, and hed like to participate in other shared projects in the future.
Conway has enjoyed his first year in office, calling it challenging and fun, although he doesn’t have plans yet beyond this term. "I was elected for four years, so I should at least do that," he said with a laugh when asked about his plans.
Brian Gould left a job in steel distribution to join the ministry at the age of 45.
In July, he returned to lead the First United Methodist Church in Voorheesville, where he had trained to be a pastor as he was working on his divinity degree.
During those years, he assisted with prayer and taught a Bible-study class at the church on weekends. He spent his work weeks in New Jersey, commuting to Drew University from his home in East Greenbush, while his wife, Belinda, supported the family with her salary as a sixth-grade teacher there.
"It’s been an interesting ride," Gould said of his journey into the ministry.
He and his wife are settled into the parsonage next door to the church on Maple Avenue in Voorheesville with their two grown sons nearby. Their elder son, Jonathan, works for the Citizens Environmental Coalition in Albany and their younger son, David, is a recent college graduate, pursuing acting.
Right now, Gould says hes getting a feel for the church and the 140-member congregation before making plans for the future of the church. The previous pastor, Denise Stringer, led the church for five years, which is close to the average, he said.
"We’re hoping and expecting to be here for quite a while," said Gould.
Across the street from the church, the gazebo on the village green hosted a group of local actors for Shakespeare in the park this summer.
The Theatre Guild of Voorheesville performed William Shakespeares As You Like It in Voorheesvilles Evergreen Park in August.
"There are not any theater groups in Voorheesville," said Director Deborah Conti. "We thought it would be the perfect place to start a theater group."
The community theatre group also performed The Brady Bunch on the elementary school stage and The Greatest Christmas Pageant Ever at Old Songs in Voorheesville.
The guild hopes to have a new home in Voorheesville soon.
"We would love to eventually do a show at the performing arts center in Voorheesville’s high school," said Conti.
Landmark for sale"
Voorheesvilles American Legion Post hasnt made any decisions yet, said Chaplain Charles Renker Jr., but the members are weighing their options. Selling the building but maintaining a lease on the cellar, where there is a bar and lounge, is one possibility and selling the building and buying land elsewhere to build on is another, he said.
Heating the 100-year-old, three-story building and maintaining the slate roof are expenses that John McClintock, adjutant for the post, mentioned as problematic for the post.
"The heat and electricity for that building is killing us," said Renker. "It’s just walloping us."
The early 20th-Century three-story building at 31 Voorheesville Ave, assessed at $381,200 this year, but no one has said who might buy it or how much it would sell for.
"It’s too big a building for our needs today," said McClintock, citing declining membership as the primary reason. The post had 340 to 360 members at one point; today it’s closer to 210, he said, "and declining all the time."
National membership in the legion is 2.7 million, said Joe March, a spokesperson at the national headquarters. "We’ve been right around that mark for the last decade," he said. "From the national perspective, things are stable."
Level 2 sex offender moves to New Scotland
By Rachel Dutil
NEW SCOTLAND A Level 2 sex offender has recently moved into town, according to the states criminal justice department registry.
Town Supervisor Ed Clark was not aware of this when The Enterprise called him this week to inquire about how the public is notified.
Notification, he said, is the responsibility of the law-enforcement agency, in this case, the Albany County Sheriffs Department.
"They [Sheriff’s Department] already have the responsibility; we’re satisfied leaving the responsibility with them," Clark told The Enterprise this week.
"They seem to do a very good job of it," he said.
Kevin Sarkey was convicted of second-degree sexual abuse for having sexual contact with a person less than 14 years old, a misdemeanor, in September of 2002, the registry says.
The victim was a 13-year-old female, the registry says. No weapons and no force was used, nor were computers or pornography involved, the registry says.
Sarkey now lives at 10 Tollgate Road in New Scotland, the registry says.
The penal law states that a person is guilty of this charge when, "he subjects another person to sexual contact."
The registry states that he was sentenced to six years of probation, which is supervised by Albany County Probation.
A New Scotland resident called The Enterprise this week to inform the newspaper that she had learned that Sarkey had moved into town. She was concerned that she had not been informed through local law enforcement or the town.
"I worry about my children their safety and the safety of the neighborhood," the resident said. Her name is being withheld by The Enterprise because she fears being targeted.
"You feel like you’re in a safe area. That shatters your system of safety," she added.
On July 7, the governor signed into law a new requirement that the identities and crimes of Level 2 sex offenders would join Level 3 sex offenders as being listed on the Internet and available to the public.
Prior to this law being passed, only Level 3 sex offenders considered the most likely to re-offend in the three-tiered system were listed publicly. Level 2 offenders are considered to be at moderate risk to re-offend.
A directory of Level 2 and Level 3 offenders is available at local law enforcement agencies. A registry can also be accessed by phone at 1-800-262-3257, or on-line at www.criminaljustice.state.ny.us. The registry is maintained by the states Department of Criminal Justice.
Local law-enforcement agencies are notified when a sex offender moves into their jurisdiction. The law-enforcement agency may then choose to distribute that information to any vulnerable populations.
" They inform all the people they feel appropriate to inform," Clark told The Enterprise this week, regarding the Albany County Sheriffs Department.
The sheriffs department did not return calls to The Enterprise this week.
When a Level 3 offender moved to New Scotland three years ago, The Enterprise spoke to Senior Investigator Michael Monteleone of the Albany County Sheriff’s Department. He said that it is at the discretion of the law enforcement agency to determine who to classify as a "vulnerable entity."
In that case, the first round of notifications consisted of those living in the nearby area similar to the offender’s prior victims, Monteleone said. Parents with children "remotely near that age group" were notified, he said.
The Sheriff’s Department contacted the principal at Voorheesville Elementary School because it "certainly has a vulnerable population" Monteleone said. The district then sent letters to parents in the district.
Voorheesville Superintendent Linda Langevin could not be reached for comment this week, but, in 2003, the district did not have a specific policy for dealing with notifying parents.
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