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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 11, 2008

Carrow plans to break ground this fall
Senior district goes through

By Jo E. Prout

NEW SCOTLAND — With a split vote, the planning board here last week approved the creation of a residential senior-housing district behind the medical building on New Scotland Road.

Questions of water and sewer access are still unanswered, and the proposed but unrelated big-box mall down the road made some board members question the placement of senior housing within a commercial zone.

“If the big-box mall goes in, is this appropriate for seniors?” asked board member Kevin Kroencke. “This is always a commercial area.”

“It’s an amazing-looking project,” said board member Charles Voss, who cast the sole negative vote. He shared Kroencke’s concerns with the possibility of a large retail area nearby. Voss suggested that the planning board table the decision on the senior-housing district until the town makes a decision on the large-scale retail zoning. He also suggested that the board wait until water access has been finalized.

“If the applicant does not get water and sewer,” Voss said, “it’s dead in the water.”

“This site here meets the town highway standards for the development, itself,” said Planning Board Chairman Robert Stapf.

The project

Charles Carrow, the owner of New Scotland OPC, LLC, owns the medical facility at 1882 New Scotland Road and the 6.9 acres behind it where he plans to build the senior-housing project. The proposed senior housing project includes plans for 30 single-story units with two homes per unit.

In March, a year-and-a-half after Carrow first requested it, the town board adopted a senior overlay district. It passed 4 to 0, with Councilwoman Deborah Baron abstaining because her husband had business interests in Carrow’s proposed development; Robert Baron would act as the project contractor for the development, he said earlier.

The floating zone allows for senior housing to be built on any parcel, regardless of its current zoning designation, providing that it gets approval. It is an effort to streamline the process for developers, which will encourage the growth of senior housing in the town, said Councilman Richard Reilly at the time. Reilly was largely responsible for drafting the bill.

The proposal was severely criticized by some residents who said the law wasn’t tailored to seniors’ needs and who raised questions about whether the overlay district was primarily a means to let Carrow build residences in a commercial zone. 

The law has a sunset provision, which requires that construction for a project begin within two years of its approval or the land will revert to its original zoning, and it has a surviving-child clause, which allows the child of a deceased senior citizen to remain in his parent’s home for up to six months.

Stormwater management would take place on site, Stapf said at last week’s meeting, with one grinder pump placed in each unit.

The project seeks an extension of the Heldervale water and sewer district.

“An agreement has not been reached. It is in progress,” said town engineer Keith Menia of Stantec, Inc. in Albany.

Carrow told The Enterprise that he will present a site plan at the November town board meeting, and break ground soon after.

“Hopefully, water and sewer issues will be worked out by then,” he said.

Carrow said that the road system for the project will be installed, and the lots marked, before construction begins as soon as possible.

“I work all across the country,” he said. He said that his company is one of the biggest commercial real estate companies in the Northeast. “I manage six million square feet of commercial space,” he said.

Carrow, a Guilderland native, disagreed with Voss’s interpretation of zoning near the proposed senior-housing project.

“This gentleman clearly has a vision of New Scotland being a commercial [area]. As a resident, and as a professional, I don’t think New Scotland is nearly ready to turn into a commercial sector,” Carrow said.

About the proposed box mall at the corner of routes 85 and 85A, Carrow said, “That’s speculation. I don’t see that in our near future.”

Gregory S. Widrick, a managing partner for Sphere Development LLC, the development company that has proposed a large retail space off the corner of Route 85, declined comment on the appropriateness of a senior-housing complex near his proposed retail center.

“I have no comment and probably won’t,” he said, because of the last Enterprise editorial about the project.

Carrow said that many people who choose to live in New Scotland choose it because of its countryside.

“We can live in the country and drive five miles and go to Target and Lowe’s,” he said. Turning the Route 85 corner into a commercial plaza is unlikely now, he said.

“It’s in our future, way out,” Carrow said.

“We’re going to develop more taxes there” with the senior housing, he said. The project will not receive incentives or amenities from the town, but it will pay full school and town taxes, he said. The housing project is “a full tax-paying entity. It doesn’t add any stress on the school district,” he said.

“The need for the future is housing for senior citizens,” Carrow said. “The baby boomers are coming of age. There’s a need for quality housing. We’re not over-pricing these. We’re not under-pricing these.” The units are expected to sell for under $300,000.

 “We’ve received a lot of interest,” he said, “and a lot of calls.”

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