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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, July 2, 2009

Committeee nominated
Old zoning to be updated

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — With the fall election less than six months away, Supervisor Kenneth Runion has decided to form a committee to review the town’s zoning code. He announced the decision on June 26.

When the comprehensive land-use plan for Guilderland was adopted in 2001, one of the committee’s recommendations was to review the zoning code after a variety of neighborhood studies were done, said Runion. The studies are now complete, and the code document is 20 years old, and outdated, according to Runion.

A comprehensive plan by itself has no effect on development; a town board must adopt compatible zoning legislation to carry it out.

As of right now, Guilderland’s special committee will consist of eight people, although Runion said he might add a ninth, and will be bi-partisan. Runion has chosen Bruce Sherwin, a Democratic former town board member, to chair the committee. Sherwin was not backed by the Democratic party for re-election in 2005, and so only served one four-year term. He has worked with zoning laws in the past, said Runion, and that is the reason he was chosen.

According to a press release from Donald Csaposs, the other nominees are:

 — Joseph Abbruzzese, an owner of Altamont Orchards;

— Peter Barber, chairman of the zoning board;

— Ken Brownell, a local commercial realtor;

— Kathy Burbank, executive director of the Guilderland Chamber of Commerce;

— Regina DuBois, who chaired the Guilderland Comprehensive Plan Committee and served on the planning board;

— Steve Feeney, chairman of the planning board; and,

— Garry Robinson, owner of Robinson’s Ace Hardware.

The list of nominees will be presented and voted on at the town board meeting on July 7.

Runion said he wanted to include Barber and Feeney because they have dealt closely with zoning issues in recent years. The other nominees represent a mix of members of the community, and business leaders, he said.

“I wanted to make sure this remained non-political,” Runion said. The nominees represent all parties — Democrat, Republican, Conservative, Independence, and not enrolled.

Matthew Nelligan, a Republican making his first run for town board, said “This is a step in the right direction to some extent.”

Nelligan is glad to see more of a bi-partisan effort toward improvement in the town, and said that’s exactly what he will be focusing on in his campaign. Zoning in town is definitely a big issue that needs to be addressed, he said, and, no matter who a good idea comes from, he is more than willing to listen to it.

“I think it’s sad that it took an election year to address these issues, though,” said Nelligan, noting that, before he can be completely optimistic about the situation, he would like to learn more about the responsibilities of the committee and what it will be charged with. He also said he wished to see more Republican nominees put forth.

Runion said he does not want to place a time-line on the committee, as far as when its review of the zoning code will be complete, because the members will be volunteers, and will have to fit the work into their schedules. He estimates it will take three to four months.

This is a step that needs to be taken due to the variety of new planning techniques that have cropped up over the past years, such as “smart growth,” according to Runion.  A movement that began in the 1970s, smart growth concentrates growth in city centers to avoid sprawl and preserve open space while fostering a sense of community. Runion cited Glass Works Village, planned for Route 20 in Guilderland, as an example. The $100 million proposal combines residences with businesses.

“A variety of cases have come up in recent years, and the old zoning document only has cumbersome ways of dealing with them,” said Runion; he hopes a review of the code will remedy that problem.

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