The Niskayuna Planning Board is scheduled -- tentatively -- to recommend the Town Board approve a controversial road connection from Windsor Drive to River Road that would serve a housing development proposed for the former Kelts Farm.
Planning board members may make the recommendation during their next meeting, scheduled for Monday, June 22. The Town Board will conduct its monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 30.
The road connection would include a barrier that would give officials time to work out traffic calming and mitigation measures for Windsor Drive.
Residents of Windsor Drive have spoken out against the extension.
A 24-lot housing development has been proposed for the former farm. Joel Bisaillon of Bisaillon Properties LLC is seeking permission for a major subdivision and a special use permit for an average density development.
Bisaillon hopes to construct nine duplex townhouses and six single-family homes on the River Road property, which town historians say dates to 1860.
Planners say the 650-foot extension from the current Windsor "stub road" to River Road (about 1/10th of a mile) always has been part of the town's master plan.
Residents see it another way. They spent 90 minutes registering complaints about the extension idea during the Planning Board's March 9 meeting -- the last Planning Board meeting held at Edwin D. Reilly Jr. Niskayuna Town Hall before precautions against novel coronavirus pandemic canceled all public gatherings.
Many residents also wrote letters to the Town Board, complaints about the possible extension that were read during the board's video-conferenced April session. They also voiced concerns during a special Planning Board meeting on the Windsor Drive situation that was held June 1.
And about two dozen spoke at this past Monday's video meeting of the Planning Board -- a session that lasted 5 1/2 hours.
Attorney Jon Tingley, of Troy law firm Gilchrist Tingley, P.C., said he has been retained by owners of 37 households on Windsor Drive. He said the Windsor collective supports the proposed development -- but not a road extension designed for through and emergency traffic.
Neighbors who spoke during via computer link-ups during the meeting -- many of whom have spoken at past meetings -- repeated concerns that the expected heavy increase in traffic that would come with a road extension would negatively affect their neighborhood.
"The risks you would be taking by moving forward with a road connection of any kind far outweigh any potential benefit," said Daniela Bigalli. "This cut-through has a severe negative impact on our neighborhood. The character, look and feel of this neighborhood will forever be altered.
"I ask you to look at the Windsor Drive of today and not the Windsor Drive of yesterday," Bigalli added. "It is now a developed neighborhood and a beautiful established community. Traffic levels have increased substantially over the years and these levels of traffic would have a severe impact on the Windsor Drive of today."
Town Planner Laura Robertson said the Town Board could call for a public hearing on the matter, a hearing that will not be held until July. And the proposed development still must return to the Planning Board for major subdivision approval.
The process will continue.
"When you get a special use permit involved and it's ... one of the last kind of big parcels left in Niskayuna," Robertson said, "we have to do it right. It's going to take some time."
In another matter, the board tentatively is scheduled to grant approval on June 22 for a subdivision application submitted by Lou Lecce.
Lecce, who owns property at 2520 Vincenzo Drive, is looking for a four-lot minor subdivision. The proposal is to divide the current 17.7-acre
acre parcel -- which already contains one existing single family home -- into four 2, 2.3, 2 and 11.3 acres, respectively.
Neighborhood residents spoke against the subdivision during a public hearing on the matter. They are concerned about storm water management on the developed property.
"Some of our neighbors actually believed that this was a forever wild property nobody was going to develop," said Doug McFadden of Rowe Road.
McFadden believes trees and vegetation that will be removed during construction will adversely affect storm water runoff. He also worries that climate change will lead to more severe storms in the future.
Ann Gallo, who lives on Angelina Drive and is near the proposed subdivision, said a new home built next to her home -- and in a situation where the builder did not take promised actions -- meant a storm water flood in her basement.
"I have a wet backyard until July already," she said. "What's going to happen when my backyard turns into an unplanned swimming pool and my property values go down because of the runoff?"
Gallo also wondered what the town would do, if storm water runoff increases after the new homes are built, and nearby homes sustain flood damage.
In another matter, the board will soon consider final site plan approval for an Ace hardware store proposed for Balltown Road.
Plans to convert the former Morgan Stanley financial services building at 1448 Balltown Road into an Ace store first came before the board last summer. The property is located next to the 1st National Bank of Scotia, which stands at the corner of Balltown and Nott Street East.
Parking for the building has always been in the back, accessed through a passage off Nott Street East. As Ace was unable to secure permission to use an access road off Balltown that serves other businesses, the access road off Nott Street East will be widened and upgraded.
Board members will check signage and engineering before considering final site plan approval on June 22.
Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-641-8400 or at [email protected]
Correction 10:01 PM 6/10: Earlier versions of this story incorrectly identified the dates for the Town Board and Planning Board meetings. The Town Board meeting is June 30 and the Planning Board meeting is June 22.