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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 19, 2008

Property owners balk at footpath to park

By Jo E. Prout

GUILDERLAND — The town’s plan to create safe pedestrian access to Nott Road Park may collapse if a resident refuses a conditional easement approved by the planning board last March.

The board made no decision on re-hearing the application, and agreed that a minor change could be brought before it without a public hearing.

The board had previously approved Dilip and Anna Das’s application to subdivide 11 acres at 6030 Nott Road into two lots. The Dases asked that the conditional easement be removed and that they be allowed, instead, to pay the more common $1,500 park and recreation fee for the proposed home on the subdivided two-acre lot.

Dilip Das said last week that the easement “is detrimental to the privacy of any residential building we place there.” The Dases’ attorney, Salvatore Rico, agreed to the pedestrian easement in March. The planning board last week said that the easement was a key piece of a long-term plan to connect surrounding neighborhoods with Nott Road Park.

Because more than 30 days have passed since the approval, the planning board is not required to re-open the public hearing for the application, according to Planning Board Attorney Linda Clark. If the board agrees to re-open the hearing, the application could lose its approved status, she said, because of environmental concerns.

The Das property lies along the Hungerkill. The proposed pathway would move pedestrians safely away from Nott Road and allow them to cross the creek by the Das property. The other side of the creek is not under the town’s control, but is up for sale, according to board member Lindsay Childs, who is also a member of the pathways committee in Guilderland.

“This connection is according to the pathways plan,” planning board Chairman Stephen Feeney said. Citing the narrowness of the road, Feeney said, “Nott Road is particularly dangerous.”

The town has a right-of-way agreement for a sewer culvert on the Das property.

“If we lose the opportunity to be able to use that culvert, then we’ll never get a path between Nott Road and the east side of the Hungerkill,” Childs said.

“It’s already being used by pedestrians,” Clark said. The conditional easement may be redundant because of the right-of- way and the pedestrian use, she said. “It’s possible that it already exists, legally,” she said.

“We couldn’t amend it today without a public hearing,” Feeney said. “Do we even want to set a public hearing? Is there some other location that would be less onerous? The creek is as far [from the house] as we can get it.”

The board said that the nearest part of the trail to the house is 150 feet away.

“We’d like to work with you and do what we can and accommodate you,” Das said. “We do not want to devalue the property with an easement.”

Describing the newly-created lot as “marginal,” board member Thomas Robert said, “I’m very disappointed. We’re certainly very careful not to devalue property. It’s not going to cause any burden on the house.”

In March, Robert had noted that the building area was immediately outside a floodplain, but that the first-floor elevation would need to be raised.

Clark said that the easement had outweighed the environmental concerns about the presence within a floodplain. If the board grants a second hearing on the application without the easement included, she said, the board may not approve the proposal. 

Childs, always an enthusiastic pathway committee member, agreed to discuss a less-intrusive path with the Dases.

“We would like to do this as soon as possible,” Das said.

“Tomorrow?” Childs asked.

They agreed to meet next week.

Committee member Martin Gnacik said that pedestrian access ways are safe, without “the bogeyman hiding behind every tree. That doesn’t devalue property. It facilitates upward movement of value.”

Other business

In recent business, the planning board:

— Approved a site plan to allow a martial arts studio to open in the former Queen of Tarts shop in Park Place, a strip mall on Route 20 in eastern Guilderland. Co-owners Robert Rice and Brian Clark said that they plan to open in July; and

— Gave final approval for James Besha and Susan Thomas’s request to cut a 12-acre portion from 29 acres at 4770 Western Turnpike. The town board approved the rezoning of the rear 12 acres from industrial to residential. Besha and Thomas must seek state Department of Transportation approval for a curb cut onto Western Turnpike, and pay a $1,500 recreation fee for each new home built.

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