Claremont estate dwellers raise concerns about 15 more homes

VOORHEESVILLE — Residents packed village hall Tuesday to ask the board to use village water as a tool to control the next phase of Claremont Estates, a housing development in their neighborhood, only weeks after the town’s planning board reviewed the plan for the second phase of the development that falls outside the village limits. Town and village officials who reside in the neighborhood joined the group to protest the next construction phase.

Town Planning Board Chairman Charles Voss said earlier this month that residents in the first development reported water and drainage problems, flooded basements, and flooded streets during bad weather. One resident told the village board Tuesday that he drives through 4 to 12 inches of standing water after a downpour.

The second phase of the development would add 15 homes within the village of Voorheesville. Confusion about the construction stems from the site’s location in a New Scotland zoning district on the town’s tax map.

Residents at the planning board asked the board to link the original development to the second phase so the board could compel the developers to correct some of the issues involving the original project.

 

Claremont Estates was built in the late 1990s by developer Catherine Froman, who owns Trinity Properties. Froman’s family has owned the property for more than 50 years. The neighborhood has upscale homes on two streets that end in cul de sacs, with only one access street that opens into the village.

Town board member Patricia Snyder and village engineer Richard Straut, who live in Claremont Estates, attended the meeting.

One man who refused to give his name but who was later identified by village staff as Michael Snyder, the husband of the town councilwoman and a former two-time school board candidate, suggested that the village board “tell the town board” how to proceed with the development.

Snyder said that the town board could then require the developer to fix or finish the existing 15-year-old road and its drainage problems. He also suggested that the village disallow entry to the new development section from the village.

Entry from a town road could lead to separation between the neighborhoods with a possible buffer, said village trustee John Stevens.

The project, as proposed, would open a second street off Claremont Avenue, doubling the number of homes.

Trustee David Cardona asked if the village had received a request by Froman to renew her water agreement for the second phase of the project.

“We do have a request from her,” Mayor Robert Conway said. “We have agreed to do that.” He said that the board asks her to renew the water contract annually.

Diana Straut said that she worried about increased traffic when the 15 homes are built. She said that additional drivers would add to the speeding problem within the neighborhood. Board members joked that she should address the speeding issue with her neighbors in the room.

Conway asked engineer Straut if the road had been improperly built, leading to problems, but Straut deigned to say the road condition was caused by the developer.

Other business

In other business, the village board:

— Listened to Albany County Executive Daniel McCoy’s State of the County Address. McCoy spoke of shared services among municipalities where department duties have been merged.

“Not on paper, but to try to make it work better,” he said.

He also spoke of new businesses opening in downtown Albany and of the creation of a branch for the Schenectady Community College in the first two floors of the Albany County building on State Street. Both will help the tax base, he said, and the community college is expected to benefit 1,000 students in its first year.

“These are the really super things going on right now,” McCoy said.

He said that $2.7 million would come to the town of New Scotland due to the sales tax distribution. Of that, Voorheesville will see $873,000, he said;

— Heard from residents who support a railroad quiet zone, who asked McCoy to address county hesitancy on installing affordable traffic medians at crossings in the village on county-owned roads.

During several meetings in the last few months, county officials, including Albany County Superintendent of Public Works Darrell Duncan, who attended the address Tuesday, have supported a $1 million quad gate system instead of the less expensive medians.

“We are openminded. We want to work with the mayor, and the staff, and the board members here,” McCoy said. “They’re using our staff to work on this issue,” he said, referring to a county grant writer. “I’m here to work for you.”

Residents said that they wanted to send an additional letter further explaining why medians are safe and more affordable, but Conway did not want such a letter coming from the village.

“I’m not sure what the value is of beating them over the head,” Conway said. “I’m not going to spend money on a study when I know what the answer is. If ‘No’ is going to be ‘No,’ we need to move on from that.”

Conway said that, if the county is able to find grants to cover part of the costs, “our portion is greatly reduced. It’s clearly the solution the county is in favor of,” he said.

Conway said that, early on, the village offered to take over the roads for the county, but that the county refused.

“They own the roads. If they say no, it’s not moving forward,” he said;

— Voted to move $25,000 from the building reserve fund to the vehicle reserve fund;

— Renewed its contract with Robert Wright Disposal; and

— Resolved to raise the sewer rates from $540 per year to $560 per year. The increase is the first in 10 years, Conway said, and will help the village keep up with operating costs.

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