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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, April 14, 2011

Carver Realty requests rezone for mixed-aged condos

By Jo E. Prout

GUILDERLAND — Taking a cue from the Mill Hill project, a developer wants to have a residential area rezoned to multiple residence use to offer mixed-age condominiums with “affordable” prices for seniors.

Albany attorney Donald Zee, representing Carver Realty, told the planning board in March that one third of the proposed 68 condo units at 2969 Old State Road would be reserved for seniors over 55.

“Seniors don’t want to live exclusively with age-restricted [residents],” Zee said. A mixed-age neighborhood “keeps them vibrant,” he said.

The homes would list at a base price of $195,000 for a first-floor condo, and $199,000 for a second-floor unit.

“We are committed to a sales price for seniors,” Zee said.

“This is age-based,” said planning board attorney Linda Clark, noting that the project was not an income-restricted senior housing district. 

Chairman Stephen Feeney said that expensive improvements to the condos would mean that the word “affordable” would no longer be applicable.

“It’s a complicated issue,” he said.

Board member Terry Coburn favored the rezone to bring more senior housing into town.

“I could sell all of those to seniors,” she said.

According to Zee, his client Carver Realty said that marketability is mixed, but that buyers can decide if the units are filled strictly with seniors.

Zee said that the density of the project would be 3.5 units per acre. Each condo is designed as a two-bedroom unit, he said. The proposal would be built in phases, he said. Garages would be attached, and not allowed to be used for storage or residence.

Board members questioned the two-story project, suggesting that seniors prefer living on the ground floor.

Some single women and seniors feel safer if they do not live on the ground floor, Zee said.

The project would not increase traffic or school district needs, he said.

“There are no impacts, in our opinion, to the school system,” Zee said.

“I like this plan,” said board member Paul Caputo. “I wish it was affordable for everybody. But, it’s a good spot.”

The planning board agreed to give a positive advisory opinion on the rezone, but listed conditions for the board’s support, including: the creation of a mechanism to prevent the undue escalation of prices on the senior units, and that the town be named a third party in the development to enforce age and unit-cost restrictions.

Water run-off

Neighbors came out to protest the five-lot subdivision of 12 acres on Homes Terrace off Johnston Road, fearing that water run-off from development there would affect their homes.

“Stormwater — that’s the only thing I’m concerned about,” said Joseph Riitano of Johnston Road. He and his wife, Deborah, asked the board to provide a written statement assuring them that no water would come onto their property.

The plan includes an existing house and barn and four new residential lots, with one keyhole lot. Three of the four are off a new cul-de-sac called Holmes Terrace, according to ABD engineer Joe Bianchine. Each lot, he said, is approximately one acre. All pavement, drainage, and right-of-way easements meet town standards, he said.

“We’re not increasing the rate of run-off from this property,” Bianchine said. Run-off will be piped to the upstream side of a 12-inch pipe to create a drainage basin, he said.

Ken Johnson, an engineer with Delaware Engineering who represented the town, said that the project design should slightly reduce the amount of water flow in the area now.

“If I put a gallon of water in a 20-inch pipe, I’m going to get a gallon of water,” Riitano argued. “I’m not an engineer. It’s just common sense.”

Feeney told him, “No additional water should be coming off this site. It’s not a lot of impervious [area]. It’s not a lot of water.”

Feeney said that he had already read the Riitanos’ letter publicly to the planning board and answered it, saying that their property should not be affected by the subdivision.

“Our engineer has testified to that,” Feeney said. “I believe we have answered those questions. I think they are good questions.”

The board asked Bianchine to reconsider the size of the driveways, and widen a T-turnaround, so that emergency vehicles would have more room.

“You have the space to do it,” Feeney said. “The person might do it on their own anyways.”

Bianchine said that the proposed driveways could support emergency vehicles.

Other business

In other business, the planning board:

— Approved a site plan to allow Rick Vesely to expand a salon from 1726 Western Ave. into the neighboring 1724 Western Ave. Vesely will use the extra space to sell products and increase the salon’s wellness business. He said he would remove the current landscaping and institute a new plan.

“It sharpens up the corner and makes it more attractive,” Vesely said.

“I think it’s a big improvement. This makes a lot of sense,” Caputo said; and

— Approved a site plan to allow Arthur Nauman to open a pizzeria at 457 Route 146. He plans to use 1,800 square feet of the 3,100-square-foot property for a sit-down restaurant, he said.

“There’s ample parking there,” town planner Jan Weston said.

The spot was previously used as a motorcycle shop, but before that it had been a restaurant.

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