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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 11, 2009

Cluster development planned for Bozenkill

By Philippa Stasiuk

ALTAMONT— One of the last two parcels of undeveloped land left in Altamont is slated for building.

A cluster development of up to 35 single-family homes is being planned for the Bozenkill Road property. The property’s owner, Kenneth Romanski, said that the prices of the new homes would range between the high $200,000s and the low $300,000s, which “recognizes the changes in the market.”

Steven Parachini, the chairman of Altamont’s planning board, was at the June 2 village board meeting to request an escrow account to pay the village’s law firm extra funds for the anticipated lengthy legal process that development of the Bozenkill property will entail.

The Bozenkill Road property was part of a debate during the 2008 restructure of the village’s zoning laws. The committee that drafted the village’s new zoning had recommended the undeveloped property be given a multi-family designation but the village board zoned it for single-family occupancy instead. A multi-family zoning would have meant that condominiums or apartments could have been built on site, which would have been in tune with the village’s comprehensive plan recommendations for more affordable housing in Altamont.

Parachini said that Romanski, who bought the land from Troy Miller four years ago, had presented a nascent concept plan to the planning board two months ago. The plan included two ideas, showing how the property could look as both a cluster development and as regularly zoned half-acre lots.

In a cluster development, houses are grouped together on a portion of the available land, while reserving a significant amount of the site as protected open space.

Parachini said the planning board requested revisions of the cluster development, which would allow for smaller lots for housing and 50 percent of the total property designation as green space. “Environmentally speaking,” said Parachini, “the cluster development they’re proposing is something we’ve promoted in our recently revised laws. It allows for a lot more undeveloped land.”

Stressing the plan’s early stages, Parachini added that even a preliminary plan would be subject to public hearing and the input of “all the interested parties, of which there’ll be many.” Some of the issues that Parachini said would need to be addressed include wetlands on the property, which would necessitate the involvement of the Army Corps of Engineers, and the sloping of the property towards the Bozenkill River.

In Voorheesville, a cluster development is also being planned and Jerry Gordinier, former inspector of the building department, spoke to The Enterprise about the advantages of cluster developments versus regular zoning.

“It’s a fantastic way to negotiate the development of a piece of property,” said Gordinier. “A law is a minimum standard. When you have a cluster development, the developer can say, ‘The topography is bad; there are lots of hills and wetlands and I can’t develop it how I’d like to.’ The municipality can sit back and say, ‘We like those hills and wetlands; they’re a part of nature. Let’s do away with the minimum lot size, do smaller lots, and decrease the amount of land that’s being used.’

“The zoning law is set aside and the developer and the planning commission can exchange a wish list of how they’d like that property developed. But the municipality gets the last word in,” said Gordinier.

Parachini said he did not know how the Bozenkill property’s undeveloped land would be used. It could either be dedicated to the village as parkland, which the village would then be responsible for maintaining, or it could be semi-private land, which would be cared for by an owners’ association of the development’s residents.

Mayor James Gaughan added that, when it came to the fate of the green space, he preferred that “the discussion play itself out,” and added, “The underlying importance is that the green space does get dedicated and preserved and is reflective of the comprehensive plan and the will of the people.”

Romanski said that the green space would make the lots more desirable because of the “forever wild” area behind the homes, but would also add privacy to the existing homes that are adjacent to the area to be developed.

Romanski has been the executive vice president of Currier McCabe and Associates (CMA) since 1987. The Latham-based consulting company develops and supplies information technology systems and services, including human resource management and customer processes. CMA came under scrutiny in January 2009 after its chief executive officer, former state senator Joseph Bruno, was indicted for receiving money from businesses in exchange for political favoritism.

Romanski, who is also the founder and president of the Duanesburg Area Community Center, said “I’m looking forward to working with the village to develop a very nice quality neighborhood.”

Other business

The board also:

— Approved the appointment Patricia Blackwood to the position of village clerk effective June 2, 2009 for the remainder of the four-year term commencing April 6, 2009 at a salary of $40,000 a year. Trustee William Aylward commented on Blackwood’s hire, “It has been a pleasure getting to know her over the past few months. She seems capable and confident and I think she will serve us well”;

— Approved the appointment of Jean La Crosse, formerly the village clerk, to the position of deputy village clerk on a temporary basis for the period of June 2, 2009 to July 21, 2009 at a salary of $21.57 per hour;

—Heard from Mayor Gaughan that the 2009 Guilderland Community Beautification Achievement “Green Space” award will go to Altamont for the Maple Avenue Park/Tot Lot Playground. The ceremony will take place today, June 11, at the Pinehaven Country Club and will be hosted by the Guilderland Chamber of Commerce.

   An official ceremony recognizing the opening of the park will be held on July 16, where the village’s park committee will recognize those who donated money and time in creating the park, shelter, and tot playground. Over $17,000 was raised for the park’s construction.

  The ceremony will also include an art exhibit called “Dogs in the Park”, which will be organized by museum archivist Marijo Dougherty. Artists are invited to create sculptures depicting a dog or having a dog theme, which will be displayed in the park through mid-August;

— Approved a request from fire department Chief Paul Miller to erect a 20-foot flagpole in front of the fire department. The funds for the pole will come from the fire department budget;

— Heard from Public Works Superintendent Timothy McIntyre that, in response to complaints about the quality of village water in the Brandle Road and Van Evera Drive area, he had initiated a series of tests. These tests included source water sampling and sampling from the areas where the complaints had come from. McIntyre said all tests had come back clean but the water department would continue to monitor the quality and encouraged residents to report any water-quality issues.

McIntyre’s report said the source of the dirty water reported by residents at the April board meeting could have come from the annual flushing sequence or the large water-main break that occurred at around the same time;

— Heard from Commissioner of Public Safety Anthony Salerno that, in the month of May, there were nine arrests, three jury referrals, and 49 defendants came to the village penal court;

— Heard from Bill Garvey of Menands about the benefits of using oil-based waste products for street and sidewalk repair, and the benefits of planting evergreen trees in the village’s parks. Garvey said planting the trees would make the village “better stewards of the earth’s natural resources”;

—Held a public hearing regarding the authorization to spend $13,500 of the funds from the Police Car Reserve for a new police vehicle and $16,000 of funds from the Senior Van Reserve to purchase a new senior van.

Gaughan described the van’s purchase as “part of a long-range capital purchase plan” and said that $12,000 of the cost of the senior van was secured by State Senator Neil Breslin as a member item, which is money allocated to senators for distribution to worthy local causes.

Trustee Aylward added that the current senior van is between five and six years old and money from its sale would pay the difference between the cost of the new van and the money provided through Senator Breslin. The motion to purchase the van was unanimously approved;

— Unanimously approved a proposal to amend a November 2008 agreement between the village and the law firm of Young, Sommer, LLC. The amendment, which was passed by Altamont’s planning board and allowed under the village’s subdivision regulations, creates an escrow account with which to pay further funds to Young, Sommer, LLC.

   Gaughan said that the current agreement between the village and Young, Sommer, LLC entails six meetings per year. However, the proposed cluster development on Bozenkill Road would likely necessitate further legal services, which would be paid through the escrow account.

   “Considering that no member of the planning board has been involved in a project of this complexity and we have a new zoning law and subdivision regulations, there are going to be legal questions that will need to be answered,” said Gaughan.

 — Approved the hire of Natalie Drahzal of Berne as a water-aerobic instructor for the Bozenkill Park at a flat fee of $300 from June 25 through Aug. 13 as requested by La Crosse;

— Approved the hire of Isaac Conklin as a part-time temporary laborer to fill a position for a staff member on medical leave. The position, which pays $12.50 per hour, will end when the staff member returns, as requested by McIntyre;

—Approved hiring these people for the Bozenkill Park Summer Recreation Program: Adrienne Bush of Altamont as camp director at $15.30 per hour; Christopher Le Clair and James Vitali of Altamont at $8.75 per hour; Justin Brown and Julia Dowling of Altamont at $9.50 per hour; and Zach Appio, Casey Becerra, Erin Glennon, Davis Parker, John Shultz of Altamont, Caitlin Willsey of East Berne, and Mary Predergast of Voorheesville at $9.75 per hour from mid-June through mid-September as recommended by La Cross; and

— Approved payment of $825 to the Puppet People for the performance of “The Bully Busters” in the Community Room on July 19 at 3:00 pm.

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