Sept 1, 2019 NOTE: This Page has not been updated since 4/28/2019 and will be brought up to date soon.
Updates on development proposals
Hiawatha Trials: On May 15th, the zoning board of appeals, despite a year and a half public outcry against it from nearly 100 residents in the nearby vicinity, granted the developer everything he asked for, including an SUP to build this senior living apartment facility in a green space in a residential area, and also a variance to defy the zoning code and build up to 4 floors high.
Something is broken in Guilderland.
WINDING BROOK COMMONS VILLAGE: New massive Winding Brook Commons Village to be built on 50+ acres of open space at the corner of Winding Brook and Western Avenue. The latest version of the plan (April 2019) calls for 21 new 2-story buildings for 200 new units and 3 additional commercial buildings (possibly another bank and a restaurant) with a total of 22,700 sq ft. The Planning Board has forwarded the sketch plan to the town board with a referral for a rezone of this residentially zoned property to a “Planned Unit Development”, which will be the SECOND recently approved PUD on Winding Brook Road, and the THIRD new large development project on this dead end street. The town planner’s memo included only sentences from the Guilderland Hamlet Plan that would tend to support this project and did not mention the four times the Hamlet Plan directly stated that no new zoning should be done in this area. The Planning Board has passed the project on to the Town Board with a recommendation for the rezone. Watch for this to next come up before the Town Board in early June.
Mercy Care Lane Intergenerational Community (6-10 Mercy Care Lane):
Yet another proposal in an already congested half-mile area around Western Avenue and Winding Brook Road. This one calls for 18 buildings with 65 rental units. On 2/27/19 this appeared on the Planning Board agenda for a preliminary site review with almost no notice to the residents. The plans were +/-170 pages. Although we believe this is laudable cause (i.e., housing for seniors, disabled persons, and families with foster children to live together as a community), the location is all wrong. Six of the 18 buildings are proposed to be built on a steep angle of repose, which is prohibited by our zoning code and common sense public safety concerns. The Chairman of the Planning Board noted this problem, as well as the fact that it looked like the proposal “overworked” the land and the environment, with excessive grading, high retaining walls, etc. The project was tabled until the Zoning Board can appoint a Town Designated Engineer to review it.
How many projects can be crammed into a small area on Winding Brook Road (a dead end road)? There is already another 52-unit Planned Unit Development next door to this project that was just approved in January, and the 200-unit, 27,000 sq ft commercial space known as “Winding Brook Commons Village” has been initially approved by the planning board and is on its way to the town board for a rezone of the land from residential to a Planned Use Development. How can this be considered “reasonable” growth?
The staggering number of new development projects currently being reviewed by the Town of Guilderland is difficult to keep up with. At a January 2019 town board meeting the Town Planner announced 26 new large development projects that had either been proposed or approved, with 3 already built, in just that last +/- 8-10 months. More continue to be added every month. The Town Planner stated he was working with the developers to adjust some details on the plans, but that he “can’t say no” to eventually approving all 26 projects (almost 2,000 new apartment units) because the town code (newly revised by this town board in 2016) permits them. Review the entire December Town Planner presentation here. Some of the provisions of the zoning code that have protected Guilderland from irresponsible uncontrolled development in the past, especially in residential neighborhoods, must be restored. Rezones, Special Use Permits and variances must be brought under reasonable control standards. GET INVOLVED!
We are asking for transparency and for the Town to make clear the cumulative impact of all projects before all boards and in all phases of planning and approval. Our concerns include the impact on traffic, the environment, infrastructure, stormwater, and the entire character of the town of Guilderland.
We also have asked the Town for a temporary pause in which to re-examine these areas with input from both the developers and the residents of Guilderland so we can devise a coherent plan for responsible growth before the land is stripped and these projects are built. The Master Plan is almost 20 years old now, and many of these new projects are being granted rezones, special use permits and variances so often that the idea of setting parameters for development through the town zoning code is being rendered meaningless.
In addition, we ask that all current and proposed projects be available to residents on a single, easy to navigate town website where projects are continuously updated and archived.
While we wait, here are several websites with information on major projects before the Town:
Active Development Projects before the Town Board
Mercy Care Lane Intergenerational Community- 65 new rental units in 18 new buildings with a 5,900 sq ft clubhouse. This first went before the planning board on 2/27/19 for “prelimanry site plan review”, although the developer had submitted paperwork on it to the town since January of 2018 without notice to the residents. The Planning Board referred it to the Zoning Board to designate a Town Designated Engineer to review the request to put 6 buildings of the 18 on a prohibited angle of repose area.
Winding Brook PUD - 52 town home units in 13 new buildings—rezone summarily approved by the town board on 1/16/19. The town planner was allowed to speak, but no public comments were allowed. This project has received final approval, and a new special law was written for it as a rezone by the Town Board. All trees were clear cut on this 7 acres in April with no enforcement of the code banning clear cutting.
2115 Western Ave: Proposed New Car Wash and Bank on lot across from lower entrance to Hamilton Square Plaza (Twenty Mall). Planning Board approved initial site plan and sent this project to the town board for a rezone request from BRNP to General Business. At that town board meeting, as usual the town planner was allowed to speak, but no public comments were allowed. Rezone summarily approved by the town board on 1/16/19. This project went before the planning board on 2/27 for site plan approval, and returned on 3/27. The planning board, after over 90 minutes of reservations, approved the plan with a page of conditions and sent it to the Zoning Board of Appeals.
Winding Brook Commons - 200 apartment units and 27,000 square feet of commercial space
This development is on the site of the 2008 proposal called “Glass Works Village.” Note that there are two websites with different information for this project - one listed under the Planning Board and one listed under the Town Board. This is the THIRD in the last few months of the new large development proposals in the works for Winding Brook Road, a dead end road. This project is currently being worked on by the town planner and the developer (with no resident input!). The planning board has approved the sketch plan and sent it to the town board for a rezone, which needs a public hearing. Watch for this in May.
Active Development Projects before the Planning Board and Zoning Board:
Great Oaks Office Park - 120 apartments units plus retail space. Located at intersection of Church Road and Western Avenue. This project will add 2 buildings, one 4 and one 5 floors high. Application currently pending before the town board for a rezone to allow this higher density use. Meanwhile remanded to planning board to review site plan and hold public hearing(s). Latest site plan hearing before the planning board is on 3/27 to address traffic issues.
Rapp Road Apartments (west side of Rapp Road from Crossgates Mall) - 222 apartment units consisting of 2 five-story apartment buildings with retail on ground floor AND 3 long townhouse buildings with 10 units each (totaling 30 townhouses). Proposal includes making this a separate stop on CDTA bus route, and greatly expanding current CDTA bus stop at the mall’s food court. This borders the Historic Rapp Road Historic District and is in a highly sensitive area of the Pine Bush. Applicant (Pyramid) has asked the IDA for $1.5 million in tax breaks for this project, which will produce a total of only 6 permanent jobs. The CEO, Don Csaposs, has recommended this application be denied, but public support is needed. The next IDA meeting on this should be in April.
Active Development Projects before the Zoning Board of Appeals:
Recently Approved Development Projects Going up Now:
…cleared lots and extra traffic coming soon at:
Hiawatha Trails Senior Living - 256 senior living apartment units on Rt 155 across from the middle school. Read our group’s statement on the the developer’s request for changes to the zoning law.
Mill Hill Phase 4 - 92 senior living apartment units
—clearing and construction ongoing across from Stewarts at 155 and Dr Shaw Road
Riitano Senior Apartments - 72 senior living apartment units
—-on Johnstown Road behind Westmere Elementary
Pine Bush Senior Living - 96 units senior living and 96 units assisted living and memory care
—from Prospect Hill Cemetery to Route 155 behind current Western Ave businesses. Notably, there has been no ground breaking on this project yet, despite full approvals received last year.
Winding Brooks 52-unit PUD: all approvals granted by the town and trees in 7 acres were clear cut in violation of many public hearing meetings and the town code.
This page is likely to be out of date as soon as it is published due to the overwhelming pace of proposals racing through the Town’s approval process. Please follow our Facebook page for our latest action alerts including important board meetings where we will need to pack the house!
-webmaster update 4/28/2019