COLONIE — The Planning Board, meeting remotely, moved the 80-unit housing project on a 103-acre wooded lot off Denison Road was moved from the sketch plan stage to concept on Tuesday, April 14.
As proposed there will be 80 homes with 11 lots for storm water management and open space. There will be about a five-acre pocket pack along Denison that may or may not be conveyed to the town.
As proposed by CT Male Associated on behalf of the developer, Charlew Construction, there would be about 40 acres of open space and 63 acres would be developed with homes and pavement.
There was some debate on the calculation of constrained land — land that cannot be developed because of pre-existing conditions like sever slopes or designated wetland — unconstrained land and how much greenspace is required to still qualify for a conservation overlay subdivision. That designation allows for smaller lots and more density with the tradeoff of being more preserved greenspace.
Under a straight subdivision, which allows roughly two homes per acre, there could be about 180 homes built on the 90 acres that are developable.
Joe Grasso, the Town Designated Engineer on the project, said by his calculations there should be 47 acres preserved. Melissa Currier, of CT Male, said she will look at the formula again prior to coming back before the board for a discussion on concept acceptance.
Other issues discussed by the board include what will become of the open space and how to ensure it does remain open space, particularly land along lot lines. One option, which was dismissed by the board as too difficult to enforce is a deed restrictions. Another, is to transfer it all to the town, which would require the town to also assume liability and upkeep responsibilities. Another was to create a home owners association, and homeowners would collectively own the open space. That idea was dismissed by the developer. And the final idea was to donate the land to a non-profit like the Hudson Mohawk Land Conservancy.
That issue will presumably be worked out before concept and certainly before the site plan is approved for construction.
Access to the five-acre park along Denison was also discussed and it was determined a small parking area for 10 to 12 cars could be constructed. Walking trails for the park to benefit the public at large and not just residents of the subdivision was also discussed.
A tree survey will be completed to compile a record of all vegetation over 24 inches in diameter that will include the size and type of the tree.
“You can shift some lot lines around or move a road to save some trees that are 75 or 100 years old,” Grasso said. “Those types of trees can make the subdivision unique and worthy of a conservation subdivision.”
Under the proposal, there are two access points to the subdivision, one on Denison and one onto Newport Drive. To the left of the entrance is an “archeological sensitive” site, an old stone foundation and well that once belonged to John Dennick, who bought the land in 1863, according to Kevin Franklin, the town historian (see story here.) The site will be protected, according to the proposal.
The plan was first introduced in 2000 and included building 112 homes. It sat largely dormant for nine years and in 2009 received concept acceptance for a cluster development of 96 lots.
Of the lots that were eliminated were all those along Denison Road except one proposed for along the access road leading into the subdivision.
“The lot to the right of the entrance should disappear,” said Planning Board member Steven Heider, while also questioning the usefulness of the park given how steep the slope is along Denison. “If you can’t use the park and it doesn’t look like a park it’s not a park.”
It is not clear when the project will come back to the board for concept, which entails more engineering details that includes comments from the board during sketch plan review.
“I’m fine with moving to concept, if they understand it is a risk because it should not have been before us tonight. The math does not even agree with our interpretation,” said Planning Board member Craig Shamilan of how much greenspace must remain preserved.