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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, May 18, 2006

Sex offender arrested for not registering address

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — Guilderland Police arrested Johnathan Horstmyer, 22, of Schenectady, for failure to register an address change as a registered sex offender, a misdemeanor.

Horstmyer is a Level 2 sex offender, the middle level in the state’s three-tiered system. He was convicted in 2004 in Schenectady County for second-degree rape, according to Guilderland Police.

New York State Correction Law requires sex offenders to register with the state any change of address within 10 days of moving.

"He hadn’t registered since March 24 with the state"That’s why he was arrested," said Sergeant William Ward of the Guilderland Police.

According to a report released by police, Horstmyer has had several changes of address over the past seven weeks which have not been reported as required by law.

"He’s on probation, so his probation could be violated as well," said Ward, adding that Horstmyer could serve up to a year in jail.

When asked how many unregistered sex offenders are picked up in the town of Guilderland, Ward responded by saying, "Not too many."

Horstmyer was arraigned in the Guilderland Town Court yesterday morning and is scheduled to return to court today.

Albany makes pitch
Landfill expansion dumped on board

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — The city of Albany made a pitch Tuesday night for a controversial 10-acre landfill expansion into the Pine Bush Preserve. Guilderland Town Board members listened to a presentation from engineer Frank LaVardera on the proposed Rapp Road Landfill expansion along the Guilderland-Colonie-Albany city line.

The city of Albany is the lead agency for the Capital Region Solid Waste Management Partnership. Several other municipalities make up the partnership including Albany, Rensselaer, Watervliet, Green Island, Guilderland, Bethlehem, New Scotland, Berne, Knox, Rensselaerville, and Altamont.

Most individual municipal landfills were closed in the early 1980’s, and now the members of the partnership all send their waste to the jointly-owned landfills. The Rapp Road Landfill is located in the area adjacent to Exit 24 of the New York State Thruway and the Pine Bush Preserve

The Rapp Road Landfill currently has only four years before it reaches maximum capacity. LaVardera told the board that the 10-acre expansion would add 10 to 12 years to the landfill’s potential capacity, which he described as "vital to the Captial District."

A proposed landfill in Coeymans, known as Site C-2, is being delayed due to federal wetlands discovered on the site.

LaVardera told the Guilderland board that Albany is also contemplating annexing the Fox Hill trailer park, which he said only has about 10 current residents, to add to the landfill.

"I think there’s a number of hoops they’re going to have to go through," Runion told The Enterprise yesterday. Runion added that Albany will need to get the New York State Legislature to act in order to get the proposal through, saying Pine Bush proponents have worked hard to add land to the preserve.

The preserve protects a globally rare inland pine barren, home to the blue butterfly on the federal and state list for endangered species.

"It’s not something that will be supported easily," said Runion.

Albany sells the gas that is created during the decomposing process at the landfills and is looking to acquire additional vendors to sell the gas byproduct to, according to LaVardera. He added that the trash shredder that the city uses adds 25 to 30 percent to the compactibility of the waste. Included at the Rapp Road Landfill is a large plant that recycles over 13,000 tons of material annually.

If the current Rapp Road Landfill is filled to compacity before it is expanded or before a new site is developed, then waste would have to be shipped out of the county, or even out of the state, LaVardera said.

Shipping waste out of the area costs much more than processing and burying it here, he said.

Runion isn’t so sure.

"There are places to ship it out of the county," he told The Enterprise yesterday. "From my understanding, with the tipping and the cost of the transportation, it wouldn’t be much different than what we’re paying now."

LaVardera told the board that the landfill would not adversely affect the surrounding wildlife and would not have a negative impact on the environment. The process could take up to two years before anything is officially approved, said Runion.

"It’s going to take at least two years after acts from the legislature," said Runion. "We need to start looking at options, that’s my opinion."

Development dilemma
Is Guilderland as ‘good as Delmar’

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — Dozens of residents came out to town hall on Tuesday night to voice their opinions on three controversial re-zones. The town board held the public hearings on what it is calling "spot zoning" in two places.

The re-zones could change 2026 and 2028 Western Ave., where a new restaurant was approved, from Local Business to Business Non-Retail Professional (BN-RP). The areas within the Normanskill Flood Plain, near Church Road, could be re-zoned from RO-40, a residential zone with a minimum size of 40,0000 square feet, to RA-3, a zone which is meant to promote low-impact development patterns to conserve natural resources.

These re-zones would limit future commercial development at the Western Avenue locations and increase the minimum lot size from one to three acres for development in the flood plain.

Supervisor Kenneth Runion told The Enterprise earlier that a BN-RP zone would prevent future large-scale commercial development from occurring if the restaurant left the lot.

Runion started the meeting by briefly summarizing the history of zoning changes along the busy Route 20 corridor.

Prior to 1981 the two Western Avenue lots were residentially zoned and then turned to BN-RP, Runion said. As Route 20 turned from a two-lane highway into a four-lane thoroughfare, a number of requests for re-zoning along the road from the Albany line to Route 146 were made, Runion said.

"In 1984, the town board commissioned a comprehensive study along Route 20 from the Albany city line," said Runion. The Emanuel Study determined that there was an adequate amount of business in the area and other business should be confined to the Crossgates Mall area, according to Runion.

After the study was released, Guilderland held public hearings on town-wide re-zoning for nearly seven months in 1985. Over 100 parcels of land were subsequently re-zoned.

The 2026 Western Ave. lot, where an Italian restaurant is slated to open, was a hair salon until 1992, after which it was re-zoned to Local Business for Phebe’s Florist Shop. Runion said that temporary zoning is sometimes used, but that was permanently changed by a town board vote of four to one.

"Now we get to 2006"Now it gets kind of difficult," Runion said.

2026 and 2028

The re-zones on Western Avenue are the result of a petition neighborhood residents sent to the town supervisor opposing permits for the Italian restaurant that were approved by the planning and zoning boards.

While laying down some ground rules for the public hearing, Runion said, "Some of the letters we’ve received have been very critical of previous boards"We’re not here to hear criticism of other boards."

"The applicant went through the process — through no fault of their own — and was granted a special-use permit," Runion told residents about the Italian restaurant that was approved by the planning and zoning boards. "We don’t have the power to change a special-use permit."

The town hall was filled with anxious residents waiting to tell the board what they thought of the possible zoning changes. The first one to approach the podium was Betty Shields who lives on Sumpter Avenue.

"We understand that we live on a commercial strip," said Shields. "The traffic on that part of the road is getting more intense, not less." She added that, "The fit of BN-RP is a better fit for that area."

The next woman to talk to the board was Phyllis Rose, who lives directly across from the 2026 lot on Cornell Avenue.

"When Phebe’s was there, we didn’t have a problem with Phebe," said Rose, "because it fit the neighborhood." Rose left the podium telling the board, "I hope you take into account our quality of living when you make your decision.

Addressing the supervisor himself, Cornell Avenue resident Adrienne Daniels said, "I remember when you first ran, Mr. Runion. You said you were going to control commercialization. Well, it’s gotten worse."

Joel Cornell from State Farm Road told the board that if anyone knows bad town planning, he does.

"We have four drugstores in my intersection, four strip malls in my intersection, and six banks in my intersection," said Cornell. "The quality of life is pretty damn low."

Mark Schaffer, who owns the 2028 property next to the former Phebe’s, told the board that he is completely against the re-zone.

"You cannot change Route 20 or the traffic on Route 20," Schaffer told the board. "Between that intersection and Crossgates Mall, I don’t think a residential house has been built in 50 years."

Schaffer’s attorney, Karen Moreau, spoke after her client.

She represented Schaffer and his construction business, W&S, LLC. Describing Route 20, she said, "Changes are the result of growth"growth that the town board cannot really stop."

"I can certainly empathize with the neighbors"The growth in business is, frankly, really responsible for that change," said Moreau.

Moreau did not agree with the findings of the Emanuel Study, saying, "That’s over 20 years ago."

"We could go back to before the 1970’s, to when there were cows on Route 20," said Moreau. "The past is the past." Moreau asked the board to "consider the residents of Guilderland as a whole, not just the neighbors" around the proposed re-zones.

Moreau pointed out that the businesses along Route 20 add the greatest tax base to the town and she suggested that the town even convert some of the residential zones around the busy highway into commercial property because, she said, the character of the area would not change and the town should not promote residential living there.

On behalf of Schaffer and W&S, LLC., Moreau presented the board with a petition not to change the zoning of the properties from Local Business.

The 30-day period to challenge the Italian restaurant expired on April 29, and, since the variances were permitted earlier, no zoning change can affect the restaurant from operating on 2026 Western Ave. Only a reduction in the restaurant’s parking spaces would affect its special-use permit, Runion said.

"There’s nobody here on behalf on 2026 Western Avenue"" asked board member David Bosworth. Owners of the new Italian restaurant did not attend the public hearing.

The board agreed that the re-zone would not have an environmental impact on the area, with board member Paul Pastore abstaining from both votes. The board has scheduled a vote only session on the re-zone of the properties for June 6 at 7:30 p.m.

The Normanskill Flood Plain

Opinions were divided on whether to scale back the potential for development on the flood plains.

Town planner Jane Weston told the board that she supports the re-zone because areas in the Normanskill Flood Plain are unsuitable for major development and that the current zoning is too dense.

"I have lived on Church Road for approximately 70 years," Doris Gorbal told the board. "If they go in there and bulldoze it down, I’m going to be flooded out"People are going to be killed."

A large applause followed Gorbal’s comments, and she added, "I’m in favor of the re-zone."

"Schoolhouse Road as it is now, takes me five to 10 minutes to get out of my driveway," said another resident concerned about heavy traffic. "If you continue [the flood plain] at one acre, you’re going to have a lot more people and a lot more cars in the area."

Weston said that the term "flood plain" does not necessarily mean that flooding occurs in every section of the area, but that it describes the entire area between Church and Schoolhouse Road.

Other speakers at the public hearing did not agree with the re-zoning proposal.

"I have strenuous objection to this zoning change; its robbing me of my property," said George Harder of Bethlehem.

"I have a magic word to use tonight: value," Harder told the board, asking, "What do you think [re-zoning] does to the value of the land"" He added, "I think you’re trying to restrict the number of people coming to this area.

"My objection is now up front, we would like the opportunity to look at projects like the Glass Works Village," said Harder, referring to a $100 million proposal for a residential and commercial development off Route 20 in Guilderland. "I want to make this town look as good as Delmar."

Juan Moto disagreed with this sentiment.

"Delmar is a nice place, and a wonderful community, but it’s not a beautiful town. Guilderland is a beautiful town," said Moto.

"My property floods," said Linda McKinley, who lives on Johnston Road. "I think the majority of this town is oversaturated with development."

Jeff Haines, who lives off of Schoolhouse Road called Crossgates Mall a "pit," and said, "Westmere has essentially become downtown Guilderland."

Another who opposed the re-zone, Shelly Lupi, said, "We do have wetlands on our property"but it is developable." Lupi said there were roughly 32 property owners in the proposed re-zone areas and asked the board, "Why do 32 of us have to provide for the rest of the town""

"These properties were bought by my grandparents specifically for development. We never intended on using it to farm," said Lupi. "What am I going to do with the property"" she asked. "We were going to sell it"This is our livelihood," she said.

Lupi asked the board not to re-zone the area and to continue discussions before making any decisions.

"It’s really a unique area that’s not found anywhere else in Guilderland," said another concerned resident, adding that only about one-third of the area is usable for development. "What is your plan for all of this increased traffic"" she asked. "Now you’re going to add a Dunkin’ Donuts in that area. I can’t believe it!"

By 11:30 p.m. on Tuesday night, the board decided to hold another public hearing on the Normanskill Flood Plain on June 20, at 7:30 p.m. The board also asked Weston for a topographical map of the proposed re-zone areas.

Other business

In other business, the town board:

— Proclaimed May 20, Kids Day America/International in Guilderland. From noon to three this Saturday, the Guilderland High School will hold an event for the town’s children and their parents. There will be games, and parents can have child identification-cards made free of charge;

— Unanimously authorized appropriating $16,000 for the purchase of a used brush leaf vacuum machine from the town of Wilton;

— Unanimously approved a settlement of tax assessment proceedings for 821 Greenthorne Blvd., as recommended by the town’s assessor; and

— Listened to a presentation by Barton & Loguidice, P.C. in regards to the stormwater management annual report.

At Guilderland
Voters pass budget, elect Eisele, Weisz, and Dubowsky

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Just over 3,400 Guilderland School District voters turned out Tuesday to pass a $79 million budget and an $828,200 bus purchase.

In a five-way race for three school-board seats, voters returned the only incumbent who was running, Richard Weisz, to the board. And, they elected two candidates who had been defeated last year and campaigned together this year — Denise Eisele and Hy Dubowsky.

"Any time the budget passes, we’re very pleased," Superintendent Gregory Aidala told The Enterprise moments after the results were announced Tuesday night.

"A lot of people contributed," he went on. "We made some changes, curtailing health insurance to the extent possible, and making changes in personnel."

The superintendent concluded, "As always, the budget was a challenge. We’re relieved and we thank the community for its support."

The budget passed in all five polling places, located at each of the district’s elementary schools, by a total vote of 1,898 to 1,515, meaning 56 percent voted in favor and 44 percent against.

Last year, a $76 million budget passed with 54 percent voting for it and 46 percent against just after Guilderland had completed town-wide property revaluation. This year, the towns of Bethlehem and New Scotland, parts of which are in the Guilderland School District, have undergone town-wide property revaluation.

This year’s budget was lower than the state-set contingency cap and carries an estimated tax-rate hike of 4.2 percent for Guilderland residents.

A proposition to buy buses and equipment for not more than $828,200 passed as well in all five districts. The vote was 1,994 to 1,371, with 59 percent voting for it and 41 percent voting against it. About half of the purchase of the 10 new buses is to be returned to the district as state aid in the future. Additionally, the district will also buy a new plow truck.

School board race

Two school board leaders — Vice President Linda Bakst and President Gene Danese — did not seek re-election. They were both on hand Tuesday night, with a score of others — candidates, past and present board members, and administrators — as election results were announced in the Guilderland Elementary School gym.

All three winners were involved in a committee that recently looked at alternative funding for the district; Weisz pushed to have the committee formed; Dubowsky chaired it; and Eisele served on it.

All of the candidates supported the budget but they held varied views on school security, teaching to the test, and the length of the school day.


Denise Eisele came in first, with 1,995 votes, 25 percent.

"I campaigned on more open communication with the board," she told The Enterprise after the results were announced. "My message got across. The board as a whole needs to listen to what parents have to say."

Eisele herself is a parent and was the only woman running for the board. Two of her children, Meg and John, were with her election night. "They campaigned with me," she said.

Eisele, who works part-time as a nurse, lives on Stafford’s Crossing in North Bethlehem with her husband, George, a physician, and their six adopted children, who range in age from nine to 15.

Eisele came in first in all five voting districts.

Like Dubowsky, Eisele was endorsed by both Guilderland Parents Advocate, a group that founder Melissa Mirabile says has over 200 members and is meant for parents to share ideas to improve students’ success, and by FREE (Fiscal Responsibility and Excellence in Education), a group that founding member Michael Marr says has 60 to 80 members.


Richard Weisz came in second with 1,700 votes, 21 percent.

He has served two three-year terms on the board and said, before the results were announced, as other candidates spoke of their weariness from campaigning and their anxiousness awaiting results, that he was not nervous.

"I do this job because I think it has to be done," said Weisz, explaining it is a matter of public service. He voted early, he said, and added, "There were times today I forgot it was Election Day."

After the votes were tallied, The Enterprise asked Weisz what he thought the results meant. "I think the budget vote is closer than it has been in past years," he said, "and it means we have some work to do on budget issues."

Weisz, a lawyer, is married to Diane Rosenbaum-Weisz, who was elected Tuesday to the Guilderland Public Library’s board of trustees. (See related story.) They live on Mohawk Trail and have two children, both Guilderland graduates currently at university.

Weisz came in second in Altamont, Westmere, and Pine Bush and he came in fourth in Guilderland and Lynnwood.


Hy Dubowsky came in third with 1,698 votes, 21 percent.

"I think we’re going to move forward with a change in culture in the way the school district does business," Dubowsky told The Enterprise after election results were announced. "I think we’ll continue to move forward with fiscal and budget reform, and put a greater emphasis on financial long-term planning and increase the board’s accountability and responsiveness to the parents and taxpayers of Guilderland."

Dubowsky, who holds five academic degrees, works for the state’s Department of Labor as the economic development director.

He and his wife, Carol Kaelin, a partner in a news service, have three children — two at Guilderland High School, and the eldest who has graduated.

Dubowsky was just two votes behind Weisz, coming in second at Lynnwood, where he lives; third at Altamont, Guilderland, and Pine Bush; and fourth at Westmere.


Raymond McQuade came in fourth with 1,609 votes, 20 percent.

McQuade was making his first run for the school board because, he said during the campaign, he thought his business expertise would be valuable for the board.

McQuade owns a technology company and his wife, Laura, works in data processing. They have been Guilderland residents for 30 years and live on Woodlawn Drive near the town hall. The McQuades have two children — one at Guilderland’s high school and the other at the middle school.

McQuade was not at Guilderland Elementary School Tuesday night; reached by phone yesterday, he told The Enterprise he was pleased the budget had passed.

"I’m encouraged to see the community stood behind it and I wish the board members well," McQuade said.

Asked if he will run again, McQuade said, "I haven’t given that thought; it’s early." He did say he believed he would serve again on the citizens’ budget advisory committee.

McQuade came in second at Guilderland, third at Lynnwood and Westmere, and fourth at Altamont and Pine Bush.


Timothy Forster came in fifth with 1,117 votes, 14 percent.

Forster was making his first run for the school board with no set agenda.

"I have the ability and desire to make sure things get done right," he said during the campaign. "I want to listen and learn so I can be effective."

Forster owns a public-information research company and his wife, Laura, works for the state’s Office of Children and Family Services. They have six children and "one on the way," said Forster.

Before the results were announced Tuesday night, Forster surmised who the winners might be. He said Dubowsky and Eisele had a "high profile," campaigning hard and putting up election signs.

After the results were announced, Forster said, "Hy and Denise are two fine people. I’m sure they’ll do a great job...We had five great candidates."

Forster also said he was surprised the budget vote was "so close."

He said he plans to run for the school board again next year.

Last year, in a six-way race for three seats, Eisele came in fourth with 17 percent of the vote and Dubowsky came in fifth with 14 percent.

This year, Forster came in fifth in all five voting districts.

Guilderland Library budget passes
Rowenbaum-Weisz, Ganz, Valachovic win 4-way trustee race

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — The Guilderland Public Library budget, as it has throughout its history, passed handily on Tuesday.

The $2.66 million budget, up nearly 10 percent from this year’s, passed with 58 percent of the vote. "Yes" votes totaled 1,936; "no" votes totaled 1,379.

The tax rate per $1,000 of assessed value for Guilderland residents is estimated at 86 cents, up from 80 cents this year.

The race for the board of trustees was novel, though, because this year it was contested — four candidates ran for three seats. In recent years, the board has had to rely on write-in candidates to fill out its ranks.

Two incumbents — President Robert Ganz and Trustee Diane Rosenbaum-Weisz — were returned to the board. A third incumbent — Treasurer James Denn — was beaten by newcomer Carroll Lynn Valachovic.

Rosenbaum-Weisz was the top vote-getter with 1,671 votes.

She was appointed to the library board last October, after coming in second the year before in a write-in campaign.

She works as director of the guidance clinic at the Parsons Child and Family Center. She is married to Richard Weisz, a lawyer and Guilderland School board member; they have two grown children.

Rosenbaum-Weisz said during her campaign that she’d like to think beyond bricks and mortar and bring the library into the community.

Tuesday night, after election results were announced, she said, "I’m pleased the library budget passed. I’m pleased the community sees it as the kind of resource we as trustees have tried to make it."

Ganz, who has been president of the library’s board for the past two years, came in a close second with 1,663 votes.

Ganz was appointed to the board in 2000 and elected in 2001. He said, during the campaign, that he is proud of initiating the Guilderland Library Foundation, which has been successful in getting grants; of chairing the committee that developed a long-range plan for the library; and of leading the library as it acquired adjacent property.

Ganz is a lawyer and he and his wife, Dorothy, have three grown children. He said he puts in about 20 hours a week as the board’s president.

Tuesday night, Ganz said that he, too, was pleased the library budget passed. "Libraries meet the needs of citizens; that’s why they’re so highly regarded," he said.

As the top two vote-getters, Ganz and Rosenbaum-Weisz will each serve a five-year term. Valachovic, who came in third, will serve a one-year term.

Valachovic, making her first run for the board, garnered 1,642 votes, coming in ahead of Denn, who received 1,554 votes.

Valachovic, a certified public accountant, said, during her campaign, "I have financial expertise that I think would be valuable to the board."

Valachovic, who is single, grew up in Guilderland and said she wants to give back to the community.

Denn, who works as the deputy director of the New York State Office of Science, Technology, and Academic Research, has been on the library board since 2001 and served as its treasurer for the last three years.

He and his wife, Jil, have two children whom he described as regular library users.

Ganz said on Tuesday night that he will be sad to see Denn, who provided five years of service, leave the board.

He also said of those elected, "I’m sure they will make excellent contributions."

Village poised to welcome farmers

By Matt Cook

ALTAMONT — This summer, Altamont residents may travel less to get fresh produce.

Mayor James Gaughan announced at a village board meeting earlier this month that he is organizing a small farmers’ market to begin this summer in Altamont. Though the dates are unsure, the market will take place beneath the awning of the old train station in the center of the village. The Altamont Free Library, which owns the train station, is donating the space.

Gaughan calls this first year a "pilot which we should carefully nurture." If the event is successful, he said, the village could make it larger for subsequent years.

The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets funds farmers’ markets throughout the state. Based on the village’s performance this year, Gaughan said, the state may agree to pay for future markets in Altamont.

"We also do not want inadvertently to cause parking problems for other businesses in town by starting so big," Gaughan told The Enterprise.

Altamont’s first vendors are Jim and Cindy Barber. The Schoharie County farmers were displaced from their stand in Stuyvesant Plaza, in Guilderland, when a produce store opened up there. Gaughan said he contacted the Barbers after reading about them in a local newspaper.

"They have agreed to come," Gaughan said. "What we’re negotiating now is what days."

Gaughan said he would try to schedule the market at least weekly, on Saturdays. Mr. Barber told The Enterprise he’s planning to sell his produce three days a week in Altamont—Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

"We find that it’s better to go a few days during the week so people can get what they want," he said.

The Barbers will also have stands on McKownville Road in Guilderland and at Verstandig’s Florist in Delmar.

The Altamont farmers’ market will probably start after June 29, the date of the Pigtacular Pignic in the Park, a Guilderland Chamber of Commerce event, and run through the fall, Gaughan said. Other vendors who have expressed interest include Altamont Orchards and Bella Fleur, the mayor said.

Other business

In other business at the May 2 meeting, the Altamont Village Board:

—Approved a resolution to draw $41,020 from the police car reserve fund to pay off loans for Ford Explorer police cars and buy a new police car;

—Established a Public Works Water Equipment Reserve Fund and a Public Works Sewer Equipment Reserve Fund;

—Approved spending up to $11,000 to fix the roof of the firehouse;

—Authorized Gaughan to apply for a grant from the State of New York Unified Court Assistance Program for a court recording system and customized court furniture; and

—Adopted, as required by state law, the New York State Office of Cyber Security and Critical Information Coordination Policy.

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