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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 8, 2009

Vojnar plans to be buried on his farm

By Jo E. Prout

GUILDERLAND — The Vojnar farm will soon have a new addition — a final resting place. The Guilderland Planning Board last week gave the sometimes controversial elderly farmer the first clearance needed for a private family cemetery.

“His wish is to be buried on his property,” said Dorrie Vojnar, the daughter of William Vojnar, who is 87. She represented her father, who did not attend the board meeting.

Vojnar requested only 12 lots for the cemetery on Posson Road, she said. Upon his death, his property is to be turned over to the state, “never to be sold or developed,” she told the planning board. Vojnar said later that the farm will be left to the state, never to be developed, 50 years after her father’s death only if  no one in the Vojnar family wants it; it cannot be sold, she said.

Vojnar owns 42 acres, including the proposed cemetery site at 6458 Posson Road and the adjacent 6470 Posson Road, his daughter said.

Vojnar bought his 33-acre farm in 1939, and suburbia grew up around it. In 2000, residents of neighboring Windmill Estates complained about the smell from the pigs he raised , the loose sheep, and the junk; the homeowners demanded legal action. In 2002, the Guilderland Town Board gave Vojnar 60 days to corral his animals, remove his junk cars and debris, and obtain a swine permit or he would have to pay for subcontractors hired by the town to do the work — a cost his lawyer said would force him to close down the farm.

Neighbors and community groups pitched in to help with cleanup and the town backed off. Vojnar said at the time that he’d had numerous offers from developers wanting to buy his land over the years, but had always declined.

Planning board Chairman Stephen Feeney said that he had investigated state rules about private cemeteries, but had found few regulations for them.

There are no state regulations concerning burial on private property, according to the website for the state Department of State’s Division of Cemeteries. The division refers only to New York State Sanitary Code for varying distances from burial sites to water sources.

Feeney said that burial places must be 100 feet from a tributary leading to a reservoir, and 300 feet from a reservoir. Little else was regulated, he said.

“Surprising,” said planning board attorney Linda Clark.

Vojnar will provide a 50-foot access from the road to the cemetery, Dorrie Vojnar said.

Siver Road residents raise concerns

A handful of neighbors turned out to protest or question Troy Miller’s proposed subdivision of three acres on Siver Road into three residential lots. Neighbors said, if Miller’s proposal were approved, that drainage and wildlife refuge would be affected. The planning board continued the public hearing.

Feeney said that the board needs time to get additional materials from Miller’s engineer. Miller said that the ingress and egress right-of-way would be removed from one of the lots, but that a utility easement would be kept.

Some residents said that they did not know about the proposal, but town planner Jan Weston said that the concept first came before the board in 2005.

Resident Stephen Clark, a retired biologist, said that rare species like the box turtle and the Eastern hognose snake would be affected.

“There is going to be an impact on the environment in the development,” Clark said. He asked the board to “consider protecting the quality of the environment.”

Another neighbor said that the area had grown from rural to urban.

“Enough is enough,” she said.

“If they own the property, they have a right to develop it,” said board member Michael Cleary.

“There’s a committee right now looking at zoning issues,” said attorney Linda Clark. “Every citizen has a right to participate.”

Feeney said that the board can make sure that a development follows local limits.

“We can make sure the driveway is safe,” he said.

“Three houses on three acres is not a huge impact on the land,” said board member Terry Coburn. “The lots are about three times what the zoning calls for.” The area is zoned to allow lots to be a minimum of 15,000 square feet.

“I’ve lived in that area for over 46 years,” Feeney said. He said that the nearby pine bush does not extend into that area, and that the area has benefited from the Pine Bush Commission’s protection of hundreds of acres.

“There’s a significant amount of open space that has been preserved in that area,” Feeney said.

The board agreed that no Environmental Impact Statement is necessary for the proposal.

Other business

In other business, the planning board:

— Approved Charlie Jones’s site plan to open a roofing business at 2460 Western Ave; and

— Approved Nitaya North’s site plan to open a sewing business at 1670 Western Ave., with the condition that the existing reciprocal parking agreement for the site continues.

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