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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 22, 2011

Over neighbors’ objections
Planning board OKs Hysenllari’s application to subdivide his Fletcher Road property

GUILDERLAND — The planning board here last week approved Veli Hysenllari’s application to subdivide his Fletcher Road property, two months after Hysenllari received a stop-work order and court appearance tickets for logging the property without having filed the proper paperwork with the town.

The subdivision plan has angered Fletcher Road residents, who claimed that Hysenllari clear-cut the property.

Hysenllari’s representative, surveyor Chris Meyer, told the board this week that the proposed subdivision of 5.6 acres was reduced from four lots to three. The revised plan would add two additional houses to the neighborhood; the remaining lot has an existing house. One curb cut would be removed, and two more would be cut, Meyer said.

The first lot is a 2.5-acre keyhole lot, Meyer said. A second lot, with an existing house and 52 feet of road frontage, is about one acre. The third lot combined the previous two remaining lots into a single 2.2-acre lot, he said.

Meyer walked the proposed sites with members of the Guilderland Conservation Advisory Council three weeks ago, he said.

Planning board Chairman Stephen Feeney said that the committee had extensive comments on file, and that it recommended the merger of lots three and four into one single lot.

Fletcher Road residents told the board that they were upset about the unannounced reduced-lot proposal, as they had come to the meeting to oppose the original four-lot subdivision application. The residents complained of logging and noise on the property, traffic, and concern for a nearby trout creek. They suggested that the road was not safe for neighborhood children or pets due to the activity on the sites. Some residents were also concerned because of the logged trees left lying on the property.

Leyla Kiosse, of Fletcher Road, said that Hysenllari has not “played by the rules,” and that he should “act in good faith.”

She continued, “We feel a full environmental review should be done.” She said that Hysenllari cleared the land to blur the layout of the property, which is prone to landslides with its ravines.

“You can cut trees on your property,” Feeney said. “You can log and it’s completely legal. People can cut their trees.”

Chief Building/Zoning Inspector Donald Cropsey told The Enterprise in October that the Fletcher Road property had not been clear-cut.

“He didn’t submit an erosion and sediment control plan,” Cropsey said then, explaining why Hysenllari was issued court appearance tickets and told to stop working on the property. Cropsey said that Hysenllari had submitted an informal plan for the property, but not the proper application and its fee.

Hysenllari also failed to submit a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, known as a SWPPP, Cropsey said. A SWPPP is required if a property owner disturbs more than an acre of land, which Hysenllari did, Cropsey said.

 Hysenllari has since submitted the appropriate paperwork, Feeney said at the meeting last week.

One resident complained about the proposed homes being constructed on the slopes leading to a trout stream that runs through the property. Her home is built in a similar way, she said, and she worried that further development would disturb the stream.

“There hasn’t been a circumvention of the town subdivision regulations,” said Feeney. He said that two driveways would not affect peak traffic, and that the lots were large enough to place homes on them without the need for variances.

“We have a fairly strict angle of repose,” Feeney said about building near slopes. Nothing can be constructed on the angle of repose, he said, and all building must occur at a 30-foot setback from that line.

One neighbor asked that the application be tabled, again, to allow neighbors more time to review the plan. He said that the proposed lots had long driveways that would result in overflow street parking if the owners had parties. The board rejected his request, stating that the revised plan showed a reduced number of lots.

“There’s plenty of room on these lots,” Feeney said. “We don’t require that on these maps. We don’t tell people what their driveways have to look like. It’s a public street. People are allowed to park on it.”

One neighbor asked the board why the application was considered if Hysenllari has a court date this coming February.

“You can get a speeding ticket. You have to show up in court, but you can continue to drive,” said Linda Clark, the planning board’s attorney.

Another resident asked the board to delay a decision until an accurate map was provided; her home was not labeled on the map submitted.

Feeney said that the building envelopes submitted by Meyer and Hysenllari had enough room for the homes because the lots are large. The planning board’s concept approval was based on the number of lots it decided would work on the site, he said.

The town will look at environmental issues after the application goes beyond an initial concept approval, he said.

Hysenllari’s daughter spoke out against the neighbors’ accusations.

“We’re not here to go against the law. We’re not here to hurt any children. Once [the chairman] gives us approval, we’ll remove the trees,” she said. “We don’t want any favors. We will follow the laws.”

“I think three lots is entirely reasonable…[with] no need at all for any future variances,” Feeney said. To the residents, he said, “People are allowed to cut in a ravine if they want to. I didn’t see any [cuts on the plan].”

The Hysenllaris can begin engineering plans, Feeney said. The application will trigger at least one or two public hearings, he said.

Other business

In other business, the planning board:

— Approved a request for a special-use permit at 2563 Western Ave. in Park Plaza for a beauty salon;

— Granted concept approval to Lawrence Warner for a two-lot subdivision of 1.1 acres on Helderview Drive. A portion of the site collects water, according to absent Town Planner Jan Weston’s notes. Weston had no objection to approval.

“I was out there today,” said board member Thomas Robert. “You’re going to have to deal with the stormwater somehow.”

“It sounds like it’s a minor detail,” Feeney said.

An adjacent neighbor asked if the board could be sure a tree line were maintained when clearing is done on the heavily-treed property.

“He can’t build outside the building envelope,” Feeney said, adding “we can’t condition” that trees are not to be cut. The board cannot tell a homeowner that he cannot cut down trees on his own property, Feeney said. Because the amount of land to be disturbed is less than an acre, no SWPPP is required, he said.

“We’d like to see a grading plan,” Feeney told Warner; and

— Approved Glenn and Amber Schworm’s application to subdivide 7 acres at 200 Foster Lane off French’s Mill Road into two lots. An existing house on the property will remain on 3.5 acres. The new lot lies between two residential zoning areas. Two new homes are planned for the property, with one on a keyhole lot.

—By Jo E. Prout

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