Colonie officials are considering an amendment to the town code that would expand neighbor notification requirements for developers after receiving complaints from concerned citizens.
Under the current town code, neighbors living within 200 feet of a proposed project must be notified in order to become more informed of the plans and offer comments. A New York State law requires that towns must publish and post major changes about projects, but there is no requirement for towns to provide specific notification on potential projects.
At a Town Board meeting on Thursday, Feb. 28, a resolution was passed calling for a public hearing on Thursday, March 28, on amendments to several chapters of the Town Code referring to wireless telecommunications special use permits, zoning and land use and expanding the notification radius for many project types, generally to 500 feet from the project’s property line.
The request for a change began a few months ago after BCI Construction, the developers of the Loudon House project, came to the board in the summer of 2012 and wanted to change the planned development district from condominiums to apartments. In 2007, the developers had proposed to build 24 luxury condominiums on a parcel at the corner of Menands and Schuyler roads, but after 18 months of work on the project, construction came to a halt when the economy stumbled.
“Many people in the neighborhood came forth to complain that the former administration did not provide adequate notice at the time the PDD was approved in 2007,” town spokeswoman Sara Wiest said.
Wiest said town officials have been meeting with representatives of various neighborhood groups. The town attorney’s office researched the subject and the Land Use Law Review Committee began discussing and considering changes. The Land Use Law Review Committee consists of Paul Sheppard, the manager of the Building Department, Director of Planning and Economic Development Joe LaCivita, Assistant Town Attorney Rebekah Kennedy and Town Board Members Daniel Hornick and Paul Rosano.
A petition has also been circulated through email that supports a 1,000-foot notification radius requirement. Town Attorney Michael Magguilli said he received 13 of these forms but had already been working with the Land Use Law Review Committee on the issue.
Efforts to reach the originator of the petition were unsuccessful.
Magguilli said the committee surveyed 230 other municipalities and only one, Clifton Park, had implemented notifications into their town code.
The proposed changes to the notification radius vary by the type of project. In single- and multi-family residential zones it would increase from 200 to 500 feet. In major subdivision amendments and single- and multi-family residential zones it would be 500 feet; in a redevelopment site plan, 250 feet; for use variance applications, 500 feet; for special use permits in single- and multi-family residential zones, 250 feet; for a PDD, 500 feet; for rezoning greater than an acre, 500 feet; and for rezoning less than an acre, 250 feet.
During public comment at the Thursday, Feb. 28, Town Board meeting, resident Amy Fox thanked the board and the committee for looking into the concept of expanding the notification radius, but asked that they don’t pass the changes immediately after the public hearing in March.
“I ask you to consider going through the hearing and then tabling your vote so you can take what is draft one and really brand it well as a second draft … or however many you need so that this board, not just the internal Land Use Law (Review) Committee can make its final nuances and changes to it,” she said.
Fox said four categories — PDD, use variances, rezoning and major site plans — have the greatest impact on existing character on neighborhoods in single- and multi-family areas and argued the town and the committee should look further into their changes before amending the code.