The former Community United in Methodist Church in Slingerlands is set to become Delmar Family Practice after the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals granted a use variance for the project.
The resolution was unanimously passed on Wednesday, Feb. 18, following approval of the project’s environmental impact statement. An informal vote on the project was taken at the zoning board’s last meeting and also had unanimous support. The area is zoned as a Core Residential district, where apartments and medical offices are not permitted, so a use variance was needed.
“The alleged hardship necessitating the use variance has not been created by the Owner, but results from changing demographics which necessitate the closing of the house of worship,” according to the resolution.
Dr. Peter Forman of Delmar Family Practice is looking to purchase the entire property, with the church renovated into his new offices. Purchase of the building will go forward after the project has gone through the town’s zoning and planning boards.
The proposed project would see the 200-year-old church turned into a medical office and four apartments. The rectory, which would also be purchased as part of the deal, would remain a single-family home. The applicant promised the church would essentially look the same from the outside, and the stain-glass windows would remain intact.
The church was forced to close last summer after facing several years of low membership and financial difficulties. The original goal was to find another congregation that may be interested in the site, but after several months of little interest, sale of the property was opened up to the general public.
The majority of neighbors and former congregation members who spoke at the public hearing were in support of the project. Many felt the plans would appropriately conserve the building and were happy the stain glass windows would be saved.
The project saw a bit of a setback after it was discovered the inside of the church was vandalized.
The burglary was discovered at the end of January. Forman and his real estate agent went to inspect the project. The damage looked to be the work of teens, with graffiti in the sanctuary and school, and a fire set in the middle of the auditorium floor. Foreman claimed there were also items scattered around that looked like there could have been a party. The police are still investigating.
The project still has to pass the town’s planning board. Forman is planning on about six months of construction before he can make the move from his Delaware Avenue office.
Van Dyke Road power substation
National Grid is planning a community informational meeting on the proposed substation at 109 Van Dyke Road.
The utility said the new substation is needed in order to provide more power to the area’s growing community and prevent brown outs. Others are concerned about the substation’s proximity to Eagle Elementary and Bethlehem Central School District’s bus garage. A use variance is needed for the project, since the area is zoned residential.
National Grid purchased the property in the 1960s with the specific purpose of building a substation at that location. Nothing came of it at that time, and eventually the area was developed and rezoned as residential.
A variance can be granted for a utility if there is a need, and there are no other alternatives that could minimize the disruption to the neighborhood. An environmental assessment has already been done.
Two sessions will be held on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at the Nathaniel Adams Blanchard Post 1040-American Legion, for residents to ask questions and learn more on the project. The first session will be held from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m., with the second from 6 to 8 p.m.
The project is tentatively scheduled to appear before the zoning board again on March 4.