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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, March 27, 2008

Basin a problem
Lanzas’ yard the site of the Johnston flood

By Saranac Hale Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Spring rains bring frustration to the Lanza household.

A basin in their Johnston Road backyard fills and floods their lawn, soaking their shed and crowding their pool. 

According to Anthony and Sherry Lanza, the flooding began when a driveway was built to access a new house that was recently constructed on the plot behind their property. 

“They have a low area in their backyard,” said Michael Biernacki, who built the new house and driveway.  “I didn’t put the hole there,” he said, adding of his work in the driveway, “I didn’t grade anything to the hole.”

Over the last couple of years, since construction, there have been escalating disputes between the Lanzas and Biernacki.

“It’s kind of like a natural bowl,” Donald Cropsey, the town’s building and zoning inspector, said of the Lanzas’ yard.  He went to take measurements about a year ago, he said, and found that the flooding isn’t likely a result of the new driveway.

Michael Scott, though, who sold the house to the Lanzas after living there for 59 years, said that he never had the kind of flooding problems that the Lanzas do.

Cropsey suggested that creating a swale between the driveway and the Lanzas’ house would relieve the flood waters, since it would make a way for water from the yard to empty into the culvert along Johnston Road.  “You could do it with a shovel and it wouldn’t cost you anything or you could hire a guy with a bulldozer,” he said of the cost.

The Lanzas have had three contractors come look at the property, and they got estimates from $3,000 to $6,000 to fix the pooling water in their backyard, they said.

“That whole road is a problem,” Biernacki said of Johnston Road.

Berean Baptists bring sign of life to Guilderland Center 

By Saranac Hale Spencer

GUILDERLAND — Just around the corner from the high school, in the Berean Baptist Church on Route 146, is the newest satellite for the Alpha Pregnancy Care Center.

“It’s not a target, but it certainly is a consideration,” said Eivion Williams, Alpha’s executive director, of the nearby high school.  The church’s office will be staffed by volunteers a couple of afternoons a week, he said, and, so far, about a half dozen people have completed the training, which consists of a watching a video and using a workbook.

“We’re hoping we can attract students from the high school,” said the church’s pastor, Larry DiNovo.  When asked how having a baby would benefit a teenaged high school student, he said, “We think of it as a human being in her womb.”

“For us, there’s only two options,” Williams said of Alpha’s philosophy.  “Have the baby and raise it or have the baby and give it up for adoption.”

The center provides counseling and supplies for pregnant woman, like formula, diapers, and self-administered pregnancy tests.

While Guilderland High School doesn’t advocate a specific route for pregnant teens, any student has the option to see a guidance counselor or social worker, said Michael Paolino, the school’s principal.  The school tries to focus on providing an education to all students, he said.

“The philosophy here is to support students,” said Paolino.

The center will open soon and a request for permission to display a sign for the pregnancy center in front of the church was tabled at the last zoning board of appeals meeting.  Chairman Peter Barber had concerns that the sign might be advertising rather than simply stating the name of the business.

“He just wanted to make sure that we were being consistent,” said Robert Feller, attorney for the town’s zoning board.  As of Wednesday, Feller hadn’t looked into the town’s zoning ordinance to see if there is a distinction between a sign displaying the name of a business and an advertising sign.

Guilderland’s zoning code defines a sign as, “Any advertising medium, structure, planting or device which advertises, directs or calls attention to any business, article, substance or service”; there are more specific definitions for different kinds of signs, like business, advertising, and official. 

The church, in the hamlet of Guilderland Center, is located in a residential zone, and, the zoning law further states that, “No signs shall be permitted in any residential districts,” before going on to list a few exceptions.  Among the exceptions is an allowance for home occupations to advertise the business with a sign not to exceed two square feet.

The proposed sign for Alpha is 11 square feet and says, “Free confidential pregnancy tests,” as well as the name and phone number of the Alpha Center.

“The content of the sign is not my issue,” Barber said repeatedly, explaining that there may be specific requirements in the zoning ordinance.

Other business

In other business at its March 19 meeting, the Guilderland Zoning Board of Appeals:

— Voted unanimously to deny Scott Armstrong’s request to run a business from his Gari Lane home;

— Voted unanimously to accept a negative declaration for the State Environmental Quality Review, meaning there are no serious environmental concerns, for Saydra Doyle’s proposed consignment shop at 2563 Western Ave., and also unanimously granted her a special-use permit so that she can open the business and approved a sign for the shop, called Polka Dots;

— Voted unanimously to grant a special-use permit to Liberty Livecchi to open a hair salon in Cosimo’s Plaza, at 1800 Western Ave.;

— Held a public hearing for Mangia, a restaurant in Stuyvesant Plaza, that plans to demolish its current building and erect a new one in its place.  Don Reeb, president of McKownville’s neighborhood association, said that he’d like to see Mangia put in a sidewalk on the western side of the plaza, and Kevin Quinn, who lives next to Stuyvesant, said that he’d like assurance that demolition and construction will take place only during permitted hours.  The board asked Mangia to come to the next meeting with firmer plans for landscaping and lighting;

— Voted unanimously to approve an “open” sign for The Western Diner; and

— Voted unanimously to approve a sign for a steakhouse that is to occupy the old Fresno’s building on Western Avenue.

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