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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 4, 2008

Board splits vote and neighbors bark as planners allow access to kennel

By Jo E. Prout

NEW SCOTLAND — Accusations of “kickbacks” and threats of lawsuits shook up the town planning board meeting Tuesday night. Neighbors vocally objected to the board’s split votes on one issue, while another complained about her neighbor’s activities.

Daniel and Susan Dimura, of Fielding Way, angrily rejected the board’s attempts to limit traffic on the privately-owned, but shared, road, after the board voted, 5-to-2, to allow a private driveway to be constructed from Salem Court to part of Fielding Way.

In a related project, the board also voted 5-to-2 to allow access to a kennel on the private Fielding Way via the imminent driveway off of Salem Court.

Board members Charles Voss and Kevin Kroencke voted against issuing a special-use permit for the driveway construction and an amendment to the original special-use permit for the kennel access. Board members Cynthia Elliott, Beth Stewart, Lorraine Tuzzolo, Robert Smith, and Chairman Robert Stapf voted for the permits.

“No! You’re kidding me, right? Why do they get all the concessions?” said Susan Dimura after the board voted. “What are you getting? Kickbacks? Honest to God.”

Her husband, Daniel Dimura, said that he would serve with town with another Article 78, which citizens use to sue government.

Two years ago, after the Dimuras had feuded with Greg and Mary Ferentino over rights to the private Fielding Way, the Dimuras had sued the town over the original issuance of the special-use permit to allow the kennel on the Ferentino property.

“The town was successful in defending its action,” Stapf told The Enterprise. The court found that the town had followed the letter of the law, he said.

“I don’t know what their issues were, concern about people going out Fielding Way,” Stapf said. “I didn’t understand his outburst at the end.”

The Dimuras stormed out of Town Hall, after saying that they would move out of state and sue the town, again. The Dimuras would not comment to The Enterprise.

“Salem Court is a town road that meets the standard requirements and [state Department of Transportation] standards,” board member Stewart told The Enterprise. “We approved a driveway to egress onto Salem Court. The SUP for the dog kennel is zoned in this area.”

Split votes

Greg Ferentino, who owns almost 60 acres accessible by Fielding Way, and Walter Vivenzio, who is in the process of selling his 1.2 acres on Salem Court, applied to add more than 100 cubic yards of fill for the creation of a shared driveway on four parcels owned between them. The project will require more than 1,000 feet of guide rail.

“We’ve built a lot of town roads cheaper than this driveway,” said engineer Daniel Hershberg, of Hershberg and Hershberg in Albany, at the meeting Tuesday.

Mary A. Ferentino asked for an amendment to use the Ferentino and Vivenzio driveway at Salem Court for client access to her dog-training classes held weeknights from 6 to 9 p.m.

“I’m apprehensive to look at the situations separately,” Voss told the board, which voted on the applications individually.

Elliott told Hershberg and his associates that sight distance out of Salem Court was limited.

“I’ve got to concur,” Kroencke said. “My practical experience tells me…it just doesn’t work. You cannot see left or right.”

 Stewart noted that Salem Court is a pre-existing road that meets town standards.

“If this was a private driveway, it would be a non-issue,” Voss said. He said that the kennel will use the driveway for commercial purposes.

“That’s 16 trips in a four-hour period. That’s a serious impact to that little neighborhood,” Voss said.

“There are plusses to this, as well,” Elliott said. The driveway would allow access for emergency vehicles, and to other potentially-buildable areas.

“I’d like to put a motion out that we deny this one” because of the effects on Salem Court, Voss said for discussion. He did not make a formal motion. The board voted to post warning signs of a 30-mile-per-hour speed limit, and of a curve and an intersection, as well as a warning sign at Fielding Way stating that there is no public access to Krumkill Road.

“People are people. You can tell them until they’re blue in the face, but they’re still going to use it,” Kroencke said.

Town engineer Keith Menia, of Stantech in Albany, suggested that the town give the kennel a Salem Court address, to keep traffic away from Fielding Way.

The board voted to require a “substantial barrier,” that Stapf described as possibly a traffic cone with a sign in the middle, so that the barrier can be removed as needed by the owners.

Fill concerns

The board tabled Claude Rodrigue’s request to add more than 100 yards of fill to his Normans Kill Road parcel. The fill is needed to level an area for a new building, he said last month.

The board told Rodrigue that he would need his own engineering work and storm- water prevention plan to keep any fill on his parcel before it could issue a special-use permit for the fill.

Neighbor Melissa Bigge complained to the board during the public hearing for the application that Rodrigue had not used clean fill on the parcel when he filled in a foundation.

“What’s there now is a dump,” Bigge said. She said that Rodrigue had used blacktop and tar as fill.

“I think you’re mistaken,” Rodrigue said. He said that he had used topsoil as fill. “I can dig it for you.”

According to previously-issued state permits, clean fill can be dirt or sand, but can include concrete, used asphalt, dredged materials, and rock.

“I don’t want to look at a dump,” Bigge said. The board suggested that she contact the building department to see if there is a town ordinance that can deal with her complaint.

“The board’s concern is the containment of this property,” Stapf said.

Technical delays

Due to a technicality, the planning board said that it could not grant approval for the Amedore development in the Colonie Country Club Estates.

Stapf said that the cluster development law requires the planning board to notify the town board within 45 days of its approval of a cluster project. The town then deals with open-space issues and the process for creating a homeowners’ association, he said.

“It came in as a regular subdivision,” said town attorney Louis Neri. The planning board must request in writing that the town board approve a cluster development plan, and that has not yet happened, he said.

“There is no way, because of the wording, that we can issue approval or conditional approval of this application,” Stapf said.

Hershberg also represented Amedore builders. He told the planning board that the board must have been notified because, otherwise, he had “appeared miraculously” to give the town board a presentation on the cluster development.

“It wasn’t brought to us as something to act on,” said town board member Doug LaGrange, who was present. “We never acted on a cluster development. No.”

The planning board voted to request that the town board approve the cluster development for the Colonie Country Club Estates. Stapf said that a written request would be on the supervisor’s desk on Wednesday.

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