COLONIE — A request to change the zoning at the intersection of Vly and Troy Schenectady roads became a little less controversial with the applicants decision to remove two parcels from the mix.
But, residents are still concerned that if the zoning for 1222 Troy Schenectady Road, the former Martin Harding and Mazzotti building, is changed from Single Family Residential to Commercial Office Residential, it will open the door for more encroachment into the residential neighborhood.
The initial request by the law firm, made in September, 2020, was to change three parcels, the large office building along Troy Schenectady Road and the adjacent properties at 418 and 418a Vly Road.
The main building housed the law firm for some 20 years and for two decades prior to that was a retail establishment and a medical office building. Nobody is really sure why the zoning for 1222 Troy Schenectady Road was changed from commercial to residential when the town reworked zoning and land use laws in 2007 but most agree it was an oversight.
The request to change zoning for the two properties going up Vly Road, though, cause the most consternation. On one lot is a single family home where the law firm had set up an ancillary office and the other is vacant.
While there are no concrete plans in front of the town for developing the site, there was talk of demolishing the house and developing a three-story, 20,000-square-foot office building on the site.
Tracy Egan Lasek, who lives at 416 Vly Road, adjacent to 418 Vly Road, said she is worried about changing the zoning without knowing the plans for the property and wanted a traffic study of the intersection.
“That intersection is dangerous. Vly Road can’t handle any more traffic. If it is rezoned we need to know we can get out of our driveway and get onto Troy Schenectady Road,” she said. “We are concerned that this is just the first step in rezoning 418 and 418a Vly Road, which we are definitely opposed to.”
Should the now vacant law firm building remain SFR, it would hinder any development of the site and call into question whether or not it can even be occupied by a commercial entity. The same can be said for the law firm using the residential home located directly behind the main building as an office.
“By rezoning what is currently a preexisting nonconforming use, which severely limits the ability to market the property and be more consistent with the neighboring zoning which is COR,” said Mary Beth Slevin, who presented on behalf of Martin, Harding and Mazzotti. “The change would allow the property to be fully utilized within the goals of the comp plan.
It is seeking to rezone the one parcel to make the parcel consistent with what has been a commercial use for more than 40 years.”
Residents fear that changing the zoning to a straight COR, though, could open the site to things like a gas station or a fast food restaurant and those two uses will add to the already congested intersection.
“Personally, as someone who drives through that intersection on a daily basis it is nasty, the traffic can backup to Birchwood Lane,” said Susan Laurilliard. “I am concerned about opening it up to a general COR zoning and since town is undertaking a review of the code, perhaps they will change the zoning designations for COR in light of the Comprehensive Plan.”
To the west on Troy Schenectady Road, in the Town of Niskayuna, is a multi-unit housing development, Vly Pointe. Across Vly Road is a Stewart’s, which is next door to Plaza 7. Across Troy Schenectady Road is a gas station/mini mart and kitty corner is a dollar store which is next door to a new office building.
The ultimate decision on any change in zoning is left to the Town Board. In September, 2020, the board said it would consider any request for a change in zoning when it formalizes changes made to the Comprehensive Plan in 2019 to broader, town wide modifications to zoning and land use laws.
The Planning Board was asked to make a recommendation and held the public hearing on Tuesday, May 4. As a courtesy, it opted to keep the hearing open because it used a different color paper to post notices about the May 4 hearing than what is usually uses, said Sean Maguire, director of the Planning and Economic Development Department.