COLONIE — By unanimous vote, the Town Board changed the zoning at the former Hoffman’s Playland, allowing the construction of a mix of retail and senior housing to move forward.
In March the Planning recommended changing the zoning from Neighborhood Commercial Office Residential to a Planned Development District, which would allow more residential density, with conditions.
First, the public benefit attached to any PDD would be $500,000. It would first pay for a traffic study in the area of Homestead Drive. The remaining $480,000 will be spent on building as many sidewalks as possible in the following order: along the east side of Loudon Road between Homestead Drive north to Stewart’s; along the west side of Loudon Road from Glennon Road north to the Fresh Market Plaza. The Planning Board recommended spending whatever money was left to build sidewalks on Spring Street, but the Town Board said it should instead be spent on projects in the immediate area.
Also, there cannot be more than three full service restaurants constructed in the retail portion of the project with the largest being no more than 4,500 square feet and the total restaurant space no more than 8,000 square feet. The combined seating of all restaurants cannot be any greater than 240 inside with an additional 100 outside. There cannot be any live music between the hours of 10 p.m. and 3 p.m.
“I know this has been a work in progress and one of our big concerns was reducing it which you have done in different ways,” said Supervisor Paula Mahan. “This type of project was included in the 2005 Comprehensive Plan. To find a delicate balance is not an easy thing and they put a lot of time in meeting our demands which was not easy to do. They have a right to develop their land. If you were to sell your home, you would want to get what your home is worth and senior housing is one of the least impactful uses for that site.”
The project, which will be known as the Galleria at Loudonville, has been scaled back since first proposed in 2018. Under the current rendition, which still must work its way through the planning process to achieve final site plan approval, would construct 26,000-square-foot of retail along Route 9 and 85 independent senior living units in a second building and 91 assisted living units in a third building at the rear of the property.
Tom Burke, who owns several Dunkin’ Donuts franchises, would build and manage the retail section while SageLife, a Pennsylvania-based company, would manage the senior housing, where Rent would start at $3,000 a month for independent living apartments and increase to $6,000 a month for memory care.
A handful of residents spoke at the meeting with about an even split for those opposed and those against.
Aimee McKane, of the Homestead Neighborhood Association, said: “Our issue is traffic mitigation on Homestead Drive. We have been asking for relief and all we get are more traffic studies.”
The association would like a “no entry” onto Homestead Drive from Fiddler’s Lane, two residential areas that act as a cut through from Route 9 to Watervliet Shaker Road. They would also like a three way stop sign at two locations on Homestead, at North Meadow Lane and North Meadow Lane.
“What we have gotten so far out of this is another 20K for another traffic study and we would like the town to listen to our experiences of pets who have been run over, children who can’t play in their front yard and speeders,” she said. “If there is a traffic study, when is it going to happen? Three years from now.”
The board directed Police Jonathan Teale to examine the signage requests.
Donald Zee, an attorney representing the developers, said under the NCOR zoning, a 158,000-square-foot retail building could be constructed that would generate some 560 vehicles during the peak travel hours. This proposal would generate about 180, he said.
“I am in favor of the project. A number of years ago my sister and I had difficulty finding assisted living for my mother. It was very difficult to do, finding a place,” said resident Henry Nolan. “Having it next to retail and restaurants is wonderful, and this will provide additional business for other residents in the area. There will be an increase in traffic but there always will be, and this is not as bad as some other options.”