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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 20, 2011

Wolanin’s plans postponed for luxury apartments in Westmere

By Jo E. Prout

GUILDERLAND — The developer of a proposed luxury high-density planned-unit development slated to be built on land behind Town Center Plaza near Westmere Elementary School pulled the project from the town board’s agenda this week. The board had planned to hold a public hearing on the proposal Tuesday.

Wolanin Companies Ltd. received a positive advisory opinion from the planning board last week for its request for the town to rezone 21 acres at 1700 Western Avenue.

Wolanin requested a zoning change from R15 and R40, which allow single-family homes on lot minimums between 10,000 and 15,000 square feet, to PUD, which can exceed those density requirements. Wolanin has proposed 248 apartment units along with a 12,000-square-foot commercial space there.

Residents of single-family homes in the neighborhood, and a member of the town’s zoning board speaking unofficially, voiced objections to the proposal last week.

“We received feedback from neighbors’ comments,” said Frank Bossolini, of Ingalls and Associates engineers, who represent Wolanin. He told The Enterprise this week that Wolanin and Ingalls and Associates made a team decision to pull the proposal from the town board agenda.

“We thought we should have a little more time to evaluate [the public comments],” Bossolini said. “We’re still comfortable that it is a good project. We want to be good neighbors, as well.”

Guilderland’s supervisor, however, had a different idea on why the project was pulled. “They’re going to re-look at the site and a different type of housing project,” said Supervisor Kenneth Runion yesterday. The proposal that was withdrawn had no senior housing, and senior housing is important in the town’s comprehensive plan, said Runion.

“It’s not coming back in the form it was proposed,” Runion concluded.

At last week’s planning board meeting, zoning board member Tom Remmert, a Westmere resident, said that there are 3,100 apartments and 4,500 homes in his section of town.

“We have more than enough density in the Westmere area,” Remmert said. “I am against the rezone request.”

Other residents complained that the proposed apartment buildings would be out of place in their neighborhood, and that the increased density would create hazardous traffic near the school.

The planning board voted 5 to 1 to recommend the zoning change to the town board. Planning board members Michael Cleary, Thomas Robert, Stephen Feeney, Paul Caputo, and Terry Coburn voted in favor of the recommendation. Planning board member James Cohen voted against it.

“It’s too much for that area,” he told The Enterprise. “It’s making the most of the land, for them,” he said, referring to Wolanin. Cohen said that traffic studies are almost always interpreted to say that the proposed project will not create too much traffic for an area.

Bossolini told The Enterprise that the project received “a strong vote of affirmation from the planning board.” No date for the project’s return to the town board has been determined, he said.

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