The Guilderland town board voted unanimously on June 20 to approve a rezone of the Normanskill Flood Plain.
The board entertained a lengthy public hearing before the board decided to vote on the issue.
The public hearing was the second held on the rezone and was needed because since the last meeting Town Planner Jan Weston made minor revisions to the plan, eliminating 11 properties that would be affected by the change of zoning from residential (RO-40) to rural agriculture (RA-3).
The desire for the newly zoned area came after applications for subdivisions of the land came before the planning board earlier in the year, said Weston.
Supervisor Ken Runion said that RA-3 zoning has aspects within it that ensures land with environmental issues is developed in a more environmentally sensitive way.
Both non-residents and residents alike spoke at the second public hearing, and the majority of those favored the rezone, citing everything from traffic worries to environmental concerns as their reasoning.
Two landowners spoke out against the rezone and both said the new zoning would lessen their ability to develop or sell the land as they wish.
Shelley Lupe, whose family owns more than 200 acres along Church Road, was one of those who spoke out against the rezone.
I think it will become worthless if it’s rezoned, said Lupe. The new zoning prevents her family from developing a thin strip of land, 2 acres wide by 3,500 feet long, the way that they would like.
Runion said that the Lupe property, an environmentally sensitive area, is loaded with obstacles, including a wetland, that would make development tough regardless of how it may be zoned.
`It’s just a very difficult piece to develop,` said Runion.
George Harder, who said his land is under contract to be purchased, said that he can’t recapture the amount of his investment.
`(The rezone) affects me financially,` said Harder.
The comments in favor of the rezone were often met with applause from the crowd and most comments spoke to the frustrations that will continue to be amplified if traffic conditions worsen.
`I would object to any large development coming into that area,` said Angela Pitorski, of Chaucer Place, echoing the opinion of the majority.
Marge Flynn, of Marjorie Drive, opened her statement by saying she had no opinion either way but warned the town board, `I urge you to consider the results of your decision.`
Flynn’s major concern seemed to be the rising level of the water table in the area of her home, something that has perennially flooded her basement since the building of Crossgates Mall. Flynn worries more development would only worsen the problem.
The board took all statements into the record and all five members voted in favor of the resolution despite Harder’s attempt for a formal protest, a petition he had begun too late to stop the simple majority vote at the June 20 meeting.
At the meeting Harder said he, under law, had more time to complete the petition, which would force a supermajority vote, four out of five, to pass the resolution. Runion said at the meeting that the town provided over 40 days of notice for any protests, far longer than the 10 days required by law.
In March, the planning board heard a concept plan regarding the area running from Church Road south to Krumkill Road, to be considered in a cluster development plan. Residents came out in full force opposing a project that would increase what they say is the already heavy flow of traffic near their homes.
Currently, according to town Planner Jan Weston, the land has federal wetlands that need to be preserved. Rezoning the land was recommended because although both zones allow for cluster development, the RA-3 would require developments on the lands be less dense.
`This would permit larger areas of wetlands and aesthetic features to be set aside,` said Runion during a town board meeting early last month.“