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Guilderland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, March 20, 2008
By Saranac Hale Spencer
GUILDERLAND Development took center stage, with two area companies submitting environmental impact statements and a third seeking a public hearing for its re-zoning request, at Tuesday’s town board meeting.
In striking contrast to recent meetings, members of the split-party town board were painstakingly polite to each other and voted unanimously in favor of all motions, save the adoption of the last meeting’s minutes. Councilman Warren Redlich abstained from the vote, saying that the minutes are the clerk’s purview and need not be approved by the board.
First on the agenda was the request for a public hearing from Amedore Homes, Inc., which has plans to develop 22 acres on Old State Road. Current zoning on the land would allow for 1.4 units per acre, Supervisor Kenneth Runion said Amedore is seeking to cluster 42 townhouses on the parcel, leaving 80 percent of the land open, John Bossilini, a project manager for Amedore, told the board.
The company is seeking to change one part of the R-30 zoning to local business, but Runion suggested it try to rezone to business non-retail professional.
“I have no objection to the rezone as it provides a reasonable transition zone from the Carman Road commercial area to the Old State Road residential areas,” wrote Jan Weston, the town’s planner, in a memo to the board. She had also requested that Amedore include further sidewalks in its plan a suggestion that Bossilini said he would consider.
The board voted unanimously to set a public hearing for 8 p.m. on April 1.
Another development on the horizon, Glassworks Village, came before the board to announce the completion of its environmental impact statement. Since its public hearing in May, the company has gotten input from nearby residents, the town, and the library, which neighbors the proposed development, said Jim Schultz, who was representing Glassworks. They have amended the plan, after discussions with the library, to eliminate a road that was to be adjacent to the library’s property, he said.
Similarly, the Northeastern Industrial Park approached the board about its environmental impact statement. “It was a little longer than originally intended,” Steven Porter, who was representing the industrial park, said to the board after Councilwoman Patricia Slavick commended the company for its patience it has been working with the town for several years to get its property rezoned for development.
The board voted unanimously to issue notices of completion for each company’s environmental impact statement and expects to discuss the finding of facts at its next meeting, on April 1.
The findings will likely be available for public review at Town Hall by early next week, Runion said.
In other business, the board:
Congratulated the Guilderland High School cheerleading squad for winning first place at a national cheerleading competition;
Heard from Harry Mesick, a town resident, that he’d like to see the board work on town business. “I feel that before the two gentlemen in question, Mr. Redlich and Mr. Grimm, were in office, we never had a problem,” he said;
Heard from Ted Danz, a town resident and chair of the town’s Republican Party, that he applauds debate on the board, but would like to see both parties make an effort to get along. “We would be well behooved in this town to work together,” he said;
Voted unanimously to authorize Runion to file a grant application with the state’s department of transportation for sidewalk construction on Carman Road;
Voted unanimously to authorize the department of water and wastewater management to open bidding for granulated activated carbon;
Discussed the possibility of providing closed captioning of televised town meetings. Albert Molis wrote a letter to the Enterprise editor in February raising the issue Runion said at Tuesday’s meeting that the equipment could cost as much as $60,000, plus the hourly cost of the service.
Redlich suggested transcribing the meetings and then posting the transcriptions on the town’s website as a cheaper alternative; he had first made the suggestion about transcription at the last town board meeting during a heated discussion about the minutes taken at town board meetings.
The board asked residents to contact Town Hall with their thoughts on closed captioning and transcription;
Voted unanimously to authorize the supervisor to sign an encroachment agreement for a homeowner to maintain a shed and pool, which are partially located on a storm-water drainage easement;
Voted unanimously to award a bid for yard waste grinding and removal at the transfer station to S. M. Gallivan, which bid $3.71 per yard; it was the lowest bidder of three and was also the company that won the bid last year, when the town ground about 26,000 yards, said Tim Spawn;
Voted unanimously to waive the building permit fee for the construction of a pavilion in DiCaprio Park; and
Entered executive session to discuss Civil Service Employee Association contract negotiations.
Selecting town’s top cop
By Saranac Hale Spencer
GUILDERLAND After months of disagreement, the town board discussed on Tuesday some aspects of the selection process for a police chief.
Empty for a year now, since long-time chief, James Murley, resigned amid controversy, the position may soon be filled as the board moves toward a permanent appointment. Since Murley’s departure, veteran officer Carol Lawlor has been acting chief . She and Lieutenant Curtis Cox both took the promotion-class Civil Service exam on March 8; those who pass the test will be on a certified list from which the town can choose to fill the position.
The two Republicans on the board, who took office in January on what had been an All-Democratic board, have been critical of the town’s selection process, accusing the Democratic majority of being secretive and trying to promote “insiders.” They have been calling for an open discussion of the process for months.
On Tuesday, at Republican Councilman Mark Grimm’s request, the board discussed the process. Grimm began by asking board members to itemize what each is looking for in a police chief.
“I’ll go first,” he said. Embracing and understanding technology topped his list, he also said that he’d like to be able to quantify what the department is doing in terms of arrests, and, “Of course, leadership is critical,” he said.
Democratic Councilwoman Patricia Slavick offered that she’d like to see someone who can carry out the policies and procedures of the town and someone who has administrative skills.
Republican Councilman Warren Redlich said that he’d like to get a better understanding of what the department is dealing with. Redlich, a lawyer, said that, if the department is dealing mostly with petit larceny, speeding tickets, and driving while intoxicated arrests, the town may be looking for different qualities in a chief than if there are major drug problems, gang influences, or threats from Internet predators.
“Do we have a sense of what else they’re handling?” he asked.
Earlier in the year, Redlich proposed having the leaders of town departments, including the police department, come before the board to discuss the workings of each branch the motion was defeated 3 to 2, along party lines. Supervisor Kenneth Runion suggested at the time that if Redlich would like to learn more about town business, he should make an appointment with the appropriate department head. The supervisor made the same suggestion to Redlich on Tuesday regarding the police department.
“The best thing is to educate yourself,” Runion told Redlich, by meeting with officers and talking about the department. Redlich has said in the past that he thinks it’s important to have the discussion in public.
When Grimm asked Runion to “paint that vision,” of what he’s looking for, Runion responded that he’d like to start the interview process and evaluate each candidate. Runion has said that he is eager to begin interviewing and has placed an ad for the position in The Enterprise, the town’s official newspaper in an effort to draw more applicants. Redlich said that he’d like to see the position advertised in the Times Union, The Daily Gazette, and The Troy Record while Grimm said that it should also be advertised in police publications, to which Runion agreed, as well as extending the deadline from its current date of March 28.
Redlich then asked Runion about setting procedure for handling driving-while-ability- impaired cases, to which Runion answered, “If you violate the law, you’re going to get a ticket.”
“I don’t want to know what the policy is, I want to know who makes the policy,” Redlich said. In the past, he has suggested that policy-making positions fall under a different set of rules for hiring and firing.
A police officer who was at the meeting, Gary Lee, answered Redlich’s question about where policy regarding a DWAI case would come from by saying, “I would imagine it would come from the chief.”
Mystery down under
By Zach Simeone
ALTAMONT The village underbelly is due for a renovation, and it’s in the works.
The subject most discussed at last week’s village board meeting was the so-called “inflow and infiltration investigation” of its century-old sewer. Initiated in the summer of 2007, this process aims to locate and repair widespread leaks in Altamont’s sewer system that are causing overflows in the sewage treatment plant.
“This is just the next phase of looking at the overall infrastructure of the village, in both our sewage and water lines,” Mayor James Gaughan told The Enterprise.
“What we’re trying to figure out right now is where we need to take a closer look,” Richard Straut told The Enterprise. He’s an engineer working for Barton & Loguidice, a consulting firm with offices located across New York State, hired by the village to assist in the investigation. The firm has been working with Altamont’s department of public works on the repairs.
“The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is obligated to regulate any municipal wastewater collection and treatment system,” Straut said this week. “One thing the department of environmental conservation does is issue a permit to discharge. So basically, they will set the limits for flow and how much can be discharged into any kind of receivers of waste.”
These permits are reissued every five years, and last summer marked the most recent renewal of that permit. Every once in a while, there will be special conditions attached to the renewals, he said. This time around, one such condition required that the village undertake this investigation.
“The real issue here is the age of the sewers. Eventually, we’d like to renew the entire system,” Mayor Gaughan said this week. “We’ve uncovered, from time to time, parts of the system that have been there over a hundred years, particularly in the older part of the village, over by the fairground area. The purpose of all this is really to get the infrastructure on par and up to date. I see five years as a realistic projection for a completion date,” he said.
The overall budget for the project is presently unknown, but the next round of the investigation will give a better idea as to how much money needs to be spent, according to Straut.
A sum of $103,000 has been set aside for repairs once this investigation reaches its end, according to Gaughan. The village received a grant of $78,000 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the mayor said. “That’s going to be used over the next year in pieces,” he added, “but it’s basically to look at drainage issues at various locations in the village, like the Stewart’s on Main Street.”
“The system is fairly old,” Straut said of Altamont’s sewers. “Over time, the pipes begin to leak, or there are illicit connections between pipes in the sewer system.” With heavy rain or snowmelt, the flow of water into the sewage-treatment plant is extremely high, he said, and sometimes exceeds the plant’s capacity.
A leak might occur because a pipe simply becomes loose and separates at the joints. Other times, roots from nearby trees will grow into the piping. “So it’s not necessarily one thing causing the problem. Basically what were trying to do in this investigation is identify where exactly the excess water is coming from,” said Straut.
Straut cited more examples of damage in the system: “We found suspected leaks where some sewers come under the creeks in the village, and there were cases where cracked or damaged manholes were allowing water to leak in. Another thing we found in the first round of investigation is that some pipes burst at the fairgrounds where trailers or campers might park and connect their pipe drains.”
Since the start of the investigation, there has been progress made in several areas. “We’ve inspected every manhole in the system, and the village has already gone in and capped the leaks at the fairgrounds,” said Straut. “Some of the manhole repairs have been undertaken looking at the manholes themselves, fixing cracks, sealing off areas where there are actual leaks, where water is coming through the manhole covers.”
One tool for locating leaks is a machine that blows a bright red-colored smoke into the sewer system, after which its operators check to see if the smoke rises above the surface and onto the village streets.
“The areas where we see the smoke can indicate a leak,” he said. “For example, we saw some smoke coming out of some foundations, and around some creek crossings. Where the smoke comes out, water might leak in.”
Mayor Gaughan said that the village spent $28,000 on the smoke testing.
“What we usually do to fix a damaged pipe is called a cured-in-place liner, which is essentially building new piping within the old piping,” said Straut. To form this new piping, an object similar to a felt sock is impregnated with a resin and fed through the damaged pipe. Then, with the liner inside the damaged pipe, they pump hot water through it, which causes the resin to cure, hardening the liner.
Straut said that many communities are facing similar situations, and, with the aging infrastructure, investigations and repairs like this need to happen. Water conservation among villagers, he said, will be a great help to the cause.
“The main thing that villagers can do that will have a direct, positive impact is to look in their basements and see if they have a sump pump connection to the sanitary sewer. If they do, they should disconnect the sump pumps and find an alternate discharge location,” said Straut.
“It will be a long-term thing. I imagine this is going to be a multi-year project,” Straut concluded. “The next phase report is due in December. I expect that, by then, we will have identified many more of the sources of these leaks.”
“We really need to look at ways in which we can address these issues without putting an undue burden on our citizens,” Mayor Gaughan said, referring to villagers’ having to disconnect their sump pumps and cut down on water use. “But the village will certainly benefit in the long run.”
In other business, the village board:
Voted unanimously to spend of $59,447 from Wastewater Project Reserve to install a wastewater treatment plant generator;
Voted unanimously to spend $13,400 for wastewater treatment dechlorination system services from Barton & Loguidice;
Voted unanimously to spend $7,880 on services from Carver Construction, Inc. involving the cleaning of a culvert pipe behind the former Altamont Lanes Bowling Center;
Voted unanimously to hold the annual re-organizational meeting on April 1 at 7:30 p.m.;
Voted unanimously to hold a public budget hearing prior to adoption on April 1, 2008 at 7:30 p.m.;
Voted unanimously to enter into contract with New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets for a 2008 farmer market in the village, and;
Voted unanimously in favor of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Capital District Transportation Committee and the village of Altamont related to the Community and Transportation Linkage Planning Program for the Altamont Bicycle/Pedestrian Master Plan, to cost $27,000.
After arrest, man head-butts police officer
By Saranac Hale Spencer
GUILDERLAND After being arrested on several charges, Omar S. Lyons head-butted a Guilderland police officer, according to the department.
Lyons, of 510 Brandywine, was trying to steal personal items from employees of Champs, in Crossgates Mall, said Sergeant Eric Batchelder. On March 16, Guilderland Police arrested Lyons, 25, for third-degree attempted robbery, unlawful imprisonment, second-degree menacing, and fourth-degree criminal mischief, according to a release from the department.
“It was obvious at the time,” Batchelder said of how the employees caught on to Lyons’s attempted theft.
After he had been transported to the police station, he “did strike the head of a Guilderland police sergeant with his own head, causing the sergeant to suffer a mild to moderate concussion,” the release says.
Both Lyons and Sergeant Glenn Stevens were taken to the hospital and subsequently released, said Batchelder. Lyons was returned to Guilderland Town Hall, where he was arraigned and remanded to Albany County’s jail. There, he was to stay until he was given a psychological exam, Batchelder said.
Hungry for change
By Jo E. Prout
GUILDERLAND The Mezza Notte restaurant on Western Avenue may soon say “good evening” more often to patrons of this specialty Italian eatery.
The planning board here approved a site plan review to amend owner Connie Ware’s special-use permit to extend her operating hours and days of operation. The board also approved her request to serve food on the patio and increase the number of diners allowed in the second-floor dining room.
Mezza Notte previously did not serve on Sundays, or before 5 p.m. on Saturdays. With town approval, Ware hopes to open from 11 a.m. to midnight on Saturdays, and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays. She also hopes to stay open until midnight on Fridays.
“No one is eating at midnight. They’re having after-dinner drinks,” board member Thomas Robert said about serving dinner on the patio.
“How are you going to keep the noise and light from the outside dining from the neighbors?” asked board member Lindsay Childs.
The board suggested that Ware stop serving on the patio earlier than midnight. The board also suggested that she use fencing and landscaping to contain the sound and light. The board recommended that Ware clarify the parking agreement with neighboring businesses. Nearby counselors have reported difficulty for their clients in finding parking because of the restaurant, the board said.
Ware’s request added 38 seats to her restaurant, for a total of 108 seats. She legally has access to 54 parking spaces.
Mangia Restaurant in Stuyvesant Plaza will be reinvented quickly and soon. Mark Burgasser, a vice-president of operations with White Management Corp., which owns Mangia, told the planning board that the building could be razed this spring, and resurrected and open for business this fall.
The reconstruction will turn the entrance on the diagonal to face into the plaza, according to Tom Andress of ABD Engineering. The new building would be 6,000 square feet, but would seat the same number as it does now. The restaurant, itself, will be different, Burgasser said. The name has not yet been determined, he said.
The changes will add one parking space to the plaza and increase the impervious area to 200,000 square feet in an area prone to flooding. Andress said that the proposed building will have an ecologically-green roof, a pervious patio, and engineered grass.
Don Reeb, of the McKownville Improvement Association, suggested that White Management install sidewalks on both sides of Western Avenue.
Board Chairman Stephen Feeney said that a detailed landscape plan should be shown, and that a curbed-end island directly in front of the building could calm plaza traffic.
In other business, the planning board:
Approved a two-lot subdivision of 11 acres at 6030 Nott Road owned by Dilip and Anna Das, who want to build a home on two of the acres.
“It’s in the floodplain,” Feeney said earlier.
Robert said that an online map showed the building area to be out of the floodplain. He said that the ground level for the first-floor elevation would still need to be raised.
In a letter to the planning board, a resident asked Dases to consider granting an easement across the rear of their property to make the Nott Road Park more accessible for pedestrians.
“I’m pretty certain that would not present a problem…Not even remotely,” said the Dases’ attorney, Salvatore Rico, of the Proskin law firm.
Feeney and Childs both suggested that the park fee of $1,500 be waived if the easement is granted;
Approved a site-plan review for a consignment shop in the Park Place plaza;
Approved a site-plan review to amend a special-use permit for real-estate offices at 1826 Western Ave. The second floor had been used as apartments, but will now be used as conference space;
Tabled an application by Jeff Perlee for 1189 Berne-Altamont Road for a two-lot subdivision of 7.3 acres. No representative for the applicant appeared before the board, but nearby residents did.
One resident asked if a penalty could be imposed on Perlee for his failure to appear.
“There’s no penalty. It could be an accident or tragic situation,” Feeney said. “It’s rare that someone doesn’t come.”
“We’re already at step one. We can’t go back,” said town Planner Jan Weston.
The board suggested that the residents write letters to the board; and
Approved a review for Spa La Vi, a beauty salon that will move into Cosimo’s Plaza. The new site will be Spa La Vi’s second shop in Guilderland. The first shop is in Altamont.