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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 21, 2006

Free park
New Use for old reservoir

By Jarrett Carroll

GUILDERLAND — Next year, the land around the old McKownville reservoir will be a park thanks to a $99,000 state grant; residents living in Guilderland’s west end may have municipal water; and, if they do, they’ll be able to pay their bill through the town’s website.

A new residential park, bringing water to the west end of town, and paying municipal bills on-line, rounded out the last town board meeting of the year on Tuesday.

The board unanimously authorized the supervisor to sign a contract with the New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for a grant to turn the McKownville reservoir, which is a pond near Stuyvesant Plaza, into the McKownville Reservoir Park.

According to Supervisor Kenneth Runion, the $99,000 grant was written by the town’s economic development director, Donald Csaposs, and won’t cost the town a dime.

With most state grants for a public works project, local municipalities have to match the funds of the grant. In this case, Runion said, the town is using the assessed value of the land, which is more than the $99,000, as consideration for the grant instead of paying actual money.

"The value of the land will substitute as the match instead of money," Runion said at the meeting. "It takes it out of the water system and puts in the parks department."

The money, he said, will go to developing walking trails and paths around the pond. There will also be a footbridge, a pavilion, and some benches built on the land.

The area where Stuyvesant Plaza is today used to have several ponds before development, and is susceptible to flooding. Runion said the flooding that sometimes washes out Western Avenue will be dealt with separately.

Funding from the grant will only cover the development of the park and not flood control, the supervisor said. State Assemblyman John McEneny, who represents Guilderland, has been vocal in getting funding to control the flooding problem in the area.

The McKownville Neighborhood Improvement Association has for years pushed for the park designation.

"It’s a wonderful Christmas present, Hanukah present, and holiday gift all in one," the association’s president, Donald Reeb told The Enterprise yesterday. Referring to the town’s economic development director, he went on, "Don Csaposs has done great things for the town and so has the board; we’re very pleased."

Reeb said he can remember when the land now occupied by Stuyvesant Plaza was just a series of ponds.

"Before Stuyvesant Plaza, there was a series of ponds"After it got developed the ponds became less and less in number," said Reeb. "We’ve been fighting to save this pond ever since."

Reeb used the example of Buckingham Pond in Albany, just over the town line, east of McKownville near Western Avenue, for what he envisions for the McKownville Reservoir Park.

"Back in the ’60’s, it wasn’t much to look at, but, little by little, it became the great little location it is today," said Reeb. "Hopefully, years from now the McKownville Pond will also get better and better."

Buckingham Pond is in a partially wooded site. A walking trail circles the pond and benches and picnic tables as well as a small playground are nearby. The Albany pond is also stocked with fish by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation and maintained by the city’s department of general services.

"We can start in the spring and hopefully have it finished by the fall," Runion said about the McKownville Reservoir Park.

West end water

Plans to expand the town’s municipal water system into the largely rural west end has moved forward.

The $7.1 million plan will bring water to Chandler Road and Wagner Road, and extend water lines into Church Road, Route 158, and Grant Hill Road.

Delaware Engineering is leading the project and a public hearing is now set for April 3, 2007, at 7:30 p.m. at town hall.

Runion said the reason why the public hearing is set several months away is to ensure all of the analysis and final studies needed will be completed before submitting the final plans to the public.

The town board is the lead agency in the project and has authorized the retention of Birchwood Archaeological Services to perform a required "cultural resource assessment."

According to Ed Hernandez of Delaware Engineering, there will be a flat fee of $457 per year to all residents living in the proposed water district.

Residents who want to hook up to the system will pay a one-time $1,750 fee in addition to paying a usage fee for the water, Hernandez said.

Runion told The Enterprise yesterday that most of the residents in the area to be served are in favor of bringing in water; he described the current water situation as "problematic."

Runion said in September that, "Chandler and Wagner roads are areas with very poor water."

Some are opposed, however.

Patti Percoski claims in a letter to The Enterprise editor this week that it is "unfair" to raise taxes for residents like herself who won’t use the new water supply.

"I don’t intend to ‘hook up’ to the line, and I didn’t ask for it," writes Percoski. "Why, then, should I have to pay for it""

Hernandez said the charge to residents not using the water is for bringing a municipal service into the area. He cited the example of a town road not used by everyone but still paid for with taxpayers money, and, he added, municipal water increases the value of property in an area simply by being available.

"It basically pays for the bonds on the water system for the area," said Hernandez of the $457 fee. "Otherwise, you could never have water districts."

There will also be a $9.87 increase for town residents currently using municipal water.

Attorney Dennis Feeney told the board the town does not need approval from the state comptroller for the bonding portion of the project because the amount needed is under the federal limit.

Runion said the April 3 hearing will be open to the public and allow residents to discuss any grievances over the final plans for the project.

Cash or credit"

The town board authorized the supervisor to contract with East Ink to establish a system for residents to pay municipal bills using credit cards, debit cards, and electronic checks.

The system, which will be available on the Internet, will eventually allow residents to pay all of their town bills on-line or at the Town Hall with the swipe of a card.

First Niagara Bank is sponsoring the system.

"It will be for all of the departments eventually. First, the receiver of taxes; then the courts, and eventually the rest," Runion said at the meeting. "We will be able to take payments over our newly-designed website as well as two terminals in Town Hall: one in the court and one upstairs."

Runion said that a link to a "secure site" from the town’s website will ensure the safety of any transactions over the Internet.

"It’s all done through a secure website, not the town’s website," he said.

Visa, Mastercard, and Discover cards will be accepted, but not American Express.

There will be a $1.50 fee for all electronic checks and a credit-card fee will be charged to the customer. The credit card fee is proportional to the amount spent.

Runion said that the town court has been asking for a credit card system in order to expedite the payments of fines and fees that are imposed.

There will also be a desk with a computer available at Town Hall for residents to make payments on-line, said Runion.

"There’s some convenience to it, like if it’s the last day to make a tax payment and you can’t make it down here," said Runion.

The board members voted unanimously in favor of the system.

Ending the session, Runion acknowledged that the meeting was the last of the year. The board unanimously canceled its Dec. 28 and Jan. 2 board meetings and set Thursday, Jan. 4, as the town’s re-organizational meeting, at 7 p.m. in town hall.

"As this is the last meeting of the year, we want to wish everyone a happy holiday and a happy new year," said Runion.

At Guilderland
More for home-schooled"board to apply for EXCEL, hold klatches

By Melissa Hale-Spencer

GUILDERLAND — As the trend towards home-schooling gains momentum across the country, the Guilderland School Board is planning to offer more to its home-schooled students.

Currently, 47 children are instructed at home in Guilderland, says Nancy Andress, the district’s assistant superintendent for instruction who oversees home-schooling. The children come from 24 households; 15 are in secondary school and 32 are in elementary school. Two of the home-schooled students are learning disabled, she said, and receive special-education services from the district.

Home-schooling is "very tightly controlled" in New York State, Superintendent Gregory Aidala told the school board members last Tuesday as they reviewed the draft of a new policy. They are slated to vote on it at their next meeting, Jan. 9.

"This is less stringent than it used to be," said Aidala. "Previously, we didn’t allow any high-school students to participate in a school activity."

In the nine years Andress has overseen home-schooling at Guilderland, the numbers have remained fairly constant, she said. Last year, there were 47 home-school students and the year before, there were 45.

It is typical for the number to be cut in half as the students move from elementary school to the middle school. Home-schooled students cannot receive a high-school diploma, although most of the Guilderland home-schooled students do go on to college, Andress told The Enterprise. Many of them produce portfolios of their work, she said.

Asked why families decide to school their children at home, Andress said, "It’s a personal choice. Sometimes it’s religious," she said, noting curricula is available with a "Christian point of view."

Many families use on-line programs to teach their children, she said.

Andress reviews the Individualized Home Instruction Plan submitted by the parents in which they map out a year of study, and she reviews their quarterly reports.

In nine years, she said, there has never been a home-schooled student put on probation because of poor performance on an annual achievement test.

The Guilderland home-schooled students, she said, have "very rich experiences."

Andress concluded, "Often, the whole family is involved. It’s really remarkable the way they weave in the arts and physical education."

Guilderland’s new policy

The district, the policy draft states, "will attempt to cooperate with parents who wish to provide home schooling."

Home-schooled students are not awarded a high-school diploma and cannot play interscholastic sports, both state mandates.

The Guilderland policy allows students to participate in intramural sports when not related to physical-education instruction, such as for wrestling or gymnastics. They can also join clubs that meet before or after school as long as they can arrange their own transportation, there is room in the program, and there is no added cost to the district.

"We determined music lessons, chorus, and band were curricular," so home-schooled students cannot participate in those activities, said Vice President John Dornbush, who serves on the policy committee and presented the draft in the absence of Chairwoman Barbara Fraterrigo.

Additionally, the new policy states, home-schooled students in the Guilderland School District may attend, with a parent, general school-wide activities such as cultural fairs, PTA-sponsored events, or school assemblies.

"For some individuals, that may not go far enough; for others, it may go too far," said Aidala of the new opportunities.

Cathy Barber, another policy committee member, said that state law prevents home-schooled students in New York from becoming part-time students. Some other states, she said, allow home-schooled students to take, for example, just a math class.

The Guilderland policy states that the district is not required to loan textbooks and other materials to home-schooled students but may provide them "to the extent available."

The district does not furnish health services and is not responsible for providing remedial programs, the draft states.

Four-and-a-half pages of regulations accompany the two-page draft policy, outlining 10 responsibilities for parents. Parents must notify the district of their intentions to home-school and then must provide an Individualized Home Instruction Plan.

Course and attendance requirements are spelled out as are rules for quarterly reports and annual assessments. If home-schooled students score poorly on an annual achievement test, they are placed on probation during which home visits are made by the superintendent to determine methods of remediation.

While home-schooled students are not eligible for vocational programs or for programs for gifted students, the district does offer students with disabilities special-education services.

The policy also says home-schooled students may take Regents exams, although not for courses with laboratory requirements.

"The proposed policy is about as generous for high-school students as the law allows"" asked board President Richard Weisz.

"It’s more generous than what we used to have," responded Aidala.

"We spent a lot of time on this policy," said Denise Eisele, another board member on the policy committee. "This policy was not written easily or lightly."

Other business

In other business, the board:

— Praised its new meeting format, using a "consent agenda" so that many items, which are not discussed, are voted on as a group rather than individually.

Weisz urged using the format when he was elected president in July. Board meetings now also include committee reports. Board members meet privately in committees with less than a quorum that would require public sessions, then report back to the board.

Eisele praised the new format as "really streamlined," saying she liked reading about items ahead of time.

"We have to do things in public session," said Weisz, noting not everything can be done by e-mail. The board, for example, must vote in public, as required by state law.

"We’ve accomplished a lot in committees that used to go under board discussion," said board member Peter Golden, who chairs the business practices committee, new this year.

"I like the way the meetings move," said Dornbush;

— Approved, without discussion, hiring Barbara Nagler, district superintendent of the Capital Region BOCES, to serve as a search consultant in recruiting a new superintendent for Guilderland.

Aidala announced last month that he will retire next November from his $150,000 post. The board then met in closed session to discuss the process it would use to replace him.

"There was no basis to enter into an executive session," Camille Jobin-Davis, assistant director for the New York State Committee on Open Government, told The Enterprise earlier.

Weisz said at last week’s meeting that the board would meet in open session to come up with a profile of characteristics the new superintendent should have;

— Heard from Weisz that the state comptroller’s office, which is auditing all the public school districts in New York, has begun its audit of Guilderland and "will be here 10 weeks," presumably presenting a report by June.

Weisz called the audit "an opportunity to learn how to do things better";

— Heard from Golden that his business practices committee is looking at the $1.72 million in EXCEL (Expanding our Children’s Education and Learning) Aid for which Guilderland is eligible.

"If you don’t use it, you lose it," said Golden.

The district needs to hire an architect and apply, he said. Building needs consistent with school programs have to be identified.

The state’s program, a one-time offer, stipulates that EXCEL Aid can be used in addition to the district’s normal state building aid as long as the combined aid does not exceed the project’s total cost. Eligible projects include those related to education technology, health and safety, accessibility, and energy.

The committee decided it would be best to generate a request for proposals to send to architectural firms, said Golden, rather than just automatically using the district’s long-time architects, Dodge, Chamberlin, Luzine, Weber Architects.

"Maybe there’s a better way to do it," said Golden. Of the trend to generate RFPs, Golden said, "You’ll be hearing more and more of that";

— Heard from Cathy Barber, who chairs the communications committee, that letters have been sent to local organizations to see if they want school-district representatives to speak to them. Weisz and Aidala, for example, will be speaking to the Guilderland Chamber of Commerce on Jan. 28, she said.

Plans are also underway to hold a series of coffee klatches, where residents can approach school-board members to ask questions or make comments. Two have been scheduled so far — the first is at the Western Diner on Route 20 from 8 to 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 10; and the second is in the lobby at the Guilderland Public Library on Western Avenue from 10:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, Jan. 20.

"Some people believe the board is not as accessible as they’d like," said Weisz.

Board member Colleen O’Connell stressed that the sessions are "not an attempt to do an end run around the chain of command." She said that parents should not use a coffee klatch to discuss individual student problems; those should be discussed with teachers and administrators;

— Reviewed a policy on student records, recognizing the legal requirement to maintain confidentiality and outlining the annual notification process;

— Heard from Andress that Mary Eoff, the Westmere Elementary School nurse, has been recognized by the New York State Association of School Nurses for her membership on its board of directors;

— Learned that Altamont Elementary School has been invited by the United States Department of Education to participate in the No Child Left Behind Blue Ribbon Schools Program. Principal Peter Brabant and his staff will complete a lengthy application before Feb. 9.

Altamont is one of 25 schools in New York State to be nominated by the commissioner of education; only 19 schools will be named Blue Ribbon Schools;

— Learned that Giuseppe Duca, a foreign-language teacher at Guilderland High School, was selected for Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers 2006;

— Heard that Deborah Drumm, principal at Westmere Elementary School, was selected as one of 15 area principals who will meet monthly as part of the National School Leadership Network;

— Learned that Mitch Hahn, high-school English teacher, and Jim Dillon, principal of Lynnwood Elementary School, were quoted in "The Geography of Bullying," an article in Vanguard, published by the School Administrators of New York State;

— Heard that Farnsworth Middle School, as part of a project initiated by science teacher Al Fiero, will breed the endangered Karner blue butterflies to be returned to the Pine Bush. The site was selected by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation and the Albany Pine Bush Commission;

— Heard congratulations for all of the fall sports teams for qualifying for the Scholar-Athlete Award. Each of these teams has maintained a 90 percent or higher team average: boys’ and girls’ cross-country, boys’ and girls’ volleyball, boys’ and girls’ soccer, girls’ swimming, girls’ tennis, field hockey, football, and golf;

— Heard from Andress a long list of school projects "remembering the less fortunate at the holidays." These "holiday social action" projects ranged from sending supplies to soldiers in Afghanistan (Operation Thank You for Our Freedom at Pine Bush Elementary School) to baking for the local Ronald McDonald House, which provides shelter for families visiting hospital patients (sponsored by the National Honor Society at the high school).

Weisz said it is "very satisfying to see the level of social action";

— Heard that Gloria Towle-Hilt, a Farnsworth social-studies teacher, is being honored as an Educator of the Week by Channel 13. Towle-Hilt was instrumental in building a local Habitat for Humanity house and has involved students in years of social action such as serving in the soup kitchen at St. John’s and St. Ann’s Center in Albany;

— Approved an agreement with the Board of Cooperative Educational Services of Albany-Schoharie-Schenectady-Saratoga Counties to host the Summer 2007 Reading and Writing Institute.

"This time, we’ll get paid," said Assistant Superintendent for Business Neil Sanders.

"In the past," Andress told The Enterprise this week, "we would pay for teachers to attend the workshops and they would reimburse us. Now we have a formal agreement."

Salaries for the reading and writing institutes each total $8,221; each runs for three days. Miscellaneous materials for each total $300. Consultant and travel fees for the reading institute total $1,326, and for the writing institute total $7,303;

— Appointed Michael Lazan as a hearing officer, effective Dec. 1, for a special-education case. He will be paid $100 an hour in accordance with the board’s policy and the state’s division of Budget.

Hearing officers are chosen from an approved list when there is a dispute between a parent and a school regarding the placement of a special-education student; the officer hears the case and makes a judgment, said Aidala;

— Approved a tax exemption, as allowed by state law, for school- district residents who are 65 or older with limited income. The new sliding scale allows a 50-percent exemption for those with an income of $26,000 or less annually, ranging to a 5-percent exemption for those with an income of $33,500 or more but less than $34,400;

— Approved the same sliding scale for property owners with disabilities;

— Accepted a monetary donation from Bruce and Julie Weeden for the purchase of a closed-circuit television network system for Lynnwood Elementary School.

Andress told The Enterprise this week that the system will be similar to those in the high school and middle school and involve younger children with the media. Asked if such a donation could create an imbalance with the district’s other four elementary schools, she said, "If it’s successful, we may want to replicate it";

— Approved an agreement with the Rensselaer-Columbia-Green BOCES to provide internal auditing services, which Sanders called "the final step" in complying with requirements set out by the state comptroller’s office about a year ago.

The estimated cost to perform this risk assessment is $9,750.

Dornbush said it was "clean and discreet" to use a BOCES other than the local BOCES with which the district does a lot of business;

— Agreed to buy 840 cases of copy paper from Ricoh Corporation for $19,630.80, the lowest of three bids; and

— Met in executive session to discuss negotiations with the Guilderland Employees Association, administrative personnel performance reviews, and a supervisory personnel performance review.

One of the best: Librarian awarded by New York Times

By Rachel Dutil

GUILDERLAND – Maria Buhl says that, for her, "Every day is like a treasure hunt."

Buhl is an adult-services librarian at the Guilderland Public Library.

No two days at the library are the same, she said. Some days, the questions are routine, and fairly simple, and other days, the questions require some research, she said. That’s the exciting part.

Buhl was among 25 winners of the 2006 New York Times Librarian Award.

The Guilderland Public Library has exceptional programs and staff, said board of trustees President Robert Ganz.

Ganz was a driving force behind Buhl’s award – he nominated her.

She has a great attitude of helpfulness toward library patrons, Ganz said about Buhl, adding that she has done many good things for the library.

"I thought Maria’s work warranted recognition," he said.

Buhl was one of 1,300 nominees. "Just being nominated was an honor," she said.

Winning, though, "was a completely unexpected thing," she told The Enterprise.

Winners enjoyed a reception at the historic New York Times building in Times Square in New York City on Dec. 13. All the winners received $2,500 and a commemorative plaque for themselves, and a separate plaque for their library.

All the winners attended the ceremony and came from across the country, Buhl said. She was accompanied at the reception by her husband, her father, her son, and Ganz.

"It was humbling and inspiring," she said of the ceremony, and the chance to hear what other librarians in other parts of the country are doing.

It was really nice to be recognized by such a well-respected newspaper, Buhl said.

Buhl took a round-about journey to become a librarian. She worked in publishing for many years, she told The Enterprise. She also worked in the features department at the Times Union.

While pregnant, and on maternity leave, Buhl said, she took up freelance writing. She researched and wrote about children’s health and development issues. She did much of her research, she said, at the library at Albany Medical Center.

A librarian there urged Buhl to become a librarian, telling her about the opportunities to pursue areas of interest to her.

Buhl went back to school and received a master’s degree from the University at Albany, which has a nationally-recognized library program.

Pursuing her interests led Buhl to start two largely successful programs at the Guilderland library – one fostering adult literacy and the other providing health information.

Buhl became a medical information specialist, Ganz said.

The health-information program ensures that understandable medical information is accessible to library patrons, he told The Enterprise, stressing that the librarians do not give medical advice; only distribute information and answer questions.

The adult literacy program helps teach English to individuals in the community who do not speak English as their first language. The library has created the time, the space, and the budget for this program, Ganz said.

Guilderland’s public library, Ganz said, has grown and developed over the years. It is "not merely a collection of books, but a center for the community."

Buhl’s award "also recognizes the library itself," she said.

"It’s incredible the variety of interactions every day," Buhl said.

Without the help and support of her colleagues, she said, this recognition would not have been possible.

"It’s really important to have a team working together," she said, adding that she doesn’t think the award will change how she does her job.

Worries about pink flamingoes
Rosedale Way gets conceptual approval

By Jo E. Prout

GUILDERLAND — The exclusive Rosedale Meadows condominiums may get new neighbors of the two-legged variety. An adjoining parcel formerly held a horse and pasture, but a four-unit home will soon replace them.

Surveyor Mark Blackstone told the Guilderland Planning Board last week that the applicant, John Ciancetta, plans to match the siding and shingle colors, and other architectural features, of the homes he plans to build on 1.1 acres on Rosedale Way to those of nearby Rosedale Meadows. Ciancetta is a former Rosedale Meadows resident, Blackstone said.

In the old pasture, the outbuildings will be removed and a 4,600-square-foot four-unit town house will be built, Blackstone said. An existing single-family home will be subdivided from the townhouse parcels. The property is zoned for townhouses, but, across the street, the zoning is R-15 for single-family residences. Blackstone said that 15-foot side yards will be maintained to meet both standards.

Ciancetta fully anticipates maintaining the standards set by Rosedale Meadows so the new building is not out of character for the neighborhood, Blackstone said.

Rosedale Meadows is located off of West Lydias street near the northern border of Guilderland.

Board member Paul Caputo asked if the owners of the new homes would join the established homeowners’ association at Rosedale Meadows.

Joining the homeowners’ association is "past the point of being realistic," Blackstone said.

Albert Brevetti, a Rosedale Meadows resident who was a planning board member long ago, asked if the addition of four units would affect the density of the allowed zoning. Adding four more units, he told The Enterprise, would crowd the original intent of the Planned Unit Development zoning.

"This wasn’t a lot in the original subdivision, but it was mapped then," Blackstone said.

"I don’t think it’s a density issue," Blackstone told The Enterprise. He said that the initial application may or may not have specified 90 units in Rosedale Meadows and on the proposed lot, but that the number is not a critical aspect of the application. He said that requirements for the town are six units per acre. "We have more square-footage than necessary to build the four [units]," he said.

The proposed units are 24 feet wide, compared to units in Rosedale Meadows, which meet the town’s minimum requirement of 20 feet, Blackstone said. "Twenty feet is a little bit tight for two rooms," he said.

One Rosedale Meadows resident said at the meeting that worries of cars and trash on the lawn, late parties, pink flamingoes, and orange doors would not be taken care of by architectural similarities.

"What’s to prevent chaos"" he said. "Potentially, it could be a nightmare."

Blackstone told The Enterprise that he and Ciancetti will propose "a contractual obligation of a purchaser"to become a dues-paying and stricture-abiding member" of a homeowners’ association "to allay any fears of purple doors and all-night parties."

The board gave Ciancetti conceptual approval.

Mill Hill

Mill Hill developers, planning a large complex for seniors off of Route 155 in Guilderland, continued to wrangle with town requirements at the Guilderland Planning Board meeting last week, and the final site-plan approval they sought was delayed.

In August, the planning board suggested that the development include landscaping, pedestrian walkways, and a traffic study. Last week, Mill Hill presented all of those.

Skip Francis of CT Male said that deciduous trees had been added to the landscaping, as had a pedestrian walk and bike path. A separate Stewart’s Shop landscaping plan will also be proposed, he said. The town should take ownership of the water and sewer facilities, he said. Francis said that an 8-acre parcel at Johnston Road would be donated to the town.

Terresa Bakner, of Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna in Albany, said that the ballet school included under the 1993 agreement would also be dedicated to the town.

Mill Hill is seeking approval of the Planned Unit Development plan approved in 1993. The plan was to be built in stages: Phase one was a 100-bed senior residence, which has already been built. The current phases include 88 multi-family units, 24 townhouses, and a Stewart’s convenience store. Phase four includes a 12,000-square-foot office building and nursing home. Phase four is not currently before the town.

Bakner said that a stoplight was allowed by the state’s Department of Transportation only because the Stewart’s shop is there. Bakner hoped to have a final agreement for the deed for Mill Hill Court soon. Planning Board Attorney Linda Clark said that the current owner of the property must be a co-applicant. Clark said that the road ownership was an important issue.

"We have a right-of-access — not something we can pass on to someone else," Bakner said.

"We’re not talking about a shared driveway here," Clark said. "We’re talking about a network of roads."

Planning board Chairman Stephen Feeney said that the multi-use path as proposed was "unacceptable."

"Basically, they’re in the street with a stripe," he said.

Bakner said that a multi-purpose path was always in the plan, and that the design is for private roadways.

"Putting people out on a roadway"is a non-starter," Feeney said. "It’s basically an expanded shoulder" where people will park cars, he said. "I had envisioned a typical sidewalk"five feet between the sidewalk and the road, with trees between." Feeney said that a multi-use pathway should be eight feet across, not six feet as proposed. "It’s just inappropriate. It doesn’t meet any standards," he said.

Feeney also questioned the lack of greenspace, noting the steep grade behind the proposed townhouses. "There’s no real accommodation for space," he said. The pedestrian realm was supposed to be more developed, he said.

"It provides an amenity that wasn’t there before," countered Bakner.

"We’re certainly willing to work with your engineer. To put people on the street"is not an idea that we’re going to endorse," Feeney said. "Pedestrian access is very important to us."

Bakner said that the pedestrian access would be designed by Creighton Manning engineers.

Board member Lindsay Childs, who also chairs the town’s Pathways Committee, said that the board may meet again with the developers, but Feeney hastened to add that all meetings would be public.

"You could make it very attractive or very unpleasant, and right now, it’s very unpleasant," Childs told the Mill Hill representatives.

Ann Pennock of Maid Marion Road in Albany, said that she plans to buy a home in the Mill Hill development. "Every time they come before the board, you ask for new things. I’ve waited two years," she said.

The board told her that new projects take time.

Other business

In other business, the board:

— Approved a proposal by Dominic Rigosu to subdivide 5.17 acres on Veeder Road into three lots. He plans to build a cottage-style house with a garage on the first level and a living space on the second. The board said that the plan should show limits of grading a clearing, and that Rigosu may be limiting the project by showing the home built into a hill;

— Approved a two-lot subdivision of 1.4 acres on Carman Road. Engineer Mike Davis of ABD Engineers represented the Moule family, who intend to build a home on one lot. An existing two-family home is on the first lot.

An existing ditch on the property with a pipe and a grate covering gets blocked with debris and needs to be cleaned out, residents said at the public hearing.

Davis’s plan calls for 180-feet of pipe to deal with drainage issues on the parcel, but town planner Jan Weston said that town engineer Todd Gifford does not want pipe on the property.

Feeney suggested using an open ditch, but Davis said, "It would be too steep a grade to have a house on this lot" without using pipe.

"I don’t know what to do without talking to DOT first," Feeney said. "I have no problem with a house here. It seems very reasonable."

Board member James Cohen said, "I think we’re playing with things we don’t understand."

"DOT has authority on the highway [driveway access] and somewhat on the drainage," Feeney said.

The board approved the proposal dependent on DOT review, installation of a T-turnaround driveway, construction of an adequate swale, a sanitary easement at the rear of the parcel, and an open swale instead of 180-feet of pipe to convey water slowly away from the property; and

— Approved the final plat to create three building lots out of two for the Saddlebrook development on Stonebriar Drive.

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