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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, November 20, 2008

“Walkable community”
Glass Works Village strolls to re-zone, 4 to 1

By Saranac Hale Spencer

GUILDERLAND — When developers started planning for Glass Works Village, they thought construction would have begun a year ago, according to Daniel O’Brien, director of the project and president of the Platform Realty Group.  This week, the town board gave them the zoning designation they need to progress.

Following three hours of discussion on Tuesday night, the board rezoned the 57 acres on Route 20 next to the library for a planned unit development in a 4-to-1 vote, with Councilman Warren Redlich, a frequent critic of some impacts from the development, voting against it.

“They probably read the mood of the town right,” Redlich said yesterday of his colleagues’ votes.  Before voting on Tuesday, Redlich reiterated his concerns about the development, which are largely centered on granting specific zoning for one area, increased traffic on Route 20, and the effect of similar developments along Route 20 in the future.

About a dozen people addressed the board on Tuesday, most in favor of the project, but a handful said that they had been unaware of it and wanted the board to hold off on voting. 

Glass Works’ plans were first made public in the spring of 2006 and include up to 310 living units and 195,000 square feet of retail and office space.

“That village, walkable community, I think is very important,” Supervisor Kenneth Runion said of the plan in 2006.

“Up until this point… I had a pretty open mind on it,” Runion said of the project last week, as he explained that he was leaning towards against voting for it.  Runion was concerned about a lack of dedicated senior housing, the effects on traffic of the nearby public library’s planned expansion, and the possible stress on the school district — a concern that residents had raised.

“I was prepared to vote against it,” Runion said yesterday.  “I negotiated all week with the developer.”

When the board voted on Tuesday, the plan included a commitment of 30 percent of its housing to seniors.  “We have an aging population,” Runion said before voting in favor. 

After the vote, when asked about his initial concerns over additional traffic from the library not accounted for in the Glass Works’ traffic study, Runion said that he was unsure of the likelihood of completion for the library’s expansion, which would nearly double its size.

With the passage of the PUD zoning designation, construction on the project could begin in the spring of 2009, according to the developers.

Other business

In other business at its Nov. 18 meeting, the board:

— Voted unanimously to approve monetary transfers in the water and wastewater management department;

— Voted unanimously to approve the Williamsburg Neighborhood Committee’s request to build a sign in the town’s right of way; and

— Voted, 3 to 2, with Democrats Runion, Councilwoman Patricia Slavick, and Councilman Paul Pastore voting in favor and Republicans Redlich and Councilman Mark Grimm voting against the town’s new fee schedule.  Redlich proposed eliminating the entrance fee to Tawasentha Park for non-residents because, he said, it may cost the town more to collect the fee than it gains from charging it — there was no second.  In the same vein, he proposed to eliminate the fee for using the pool at the park and, again, got no second.

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