COLONIE — An appropriate public benefit was one top of a presentation to the Planning Board about changing the zoning on three lots along Everett Road from Commercial Office to a Planned Development District in order to build a 153-unit independent senior housing project.
A PDD allows for more density than other residential zoning. If a straight commercial/office development was pursued, that zoning allows for a 135,000-square-foot building. The senior housing plan, presented by Dan Hershberg on behalf of Crisafulli Associates, is proposed to be four stories with a 49,400 footprint for a total of 197,000 square feet on 10 acres of land.
The Planning Board is charged with making a recommendation on the PDD and the Town Board will make the final determination.
In exchange for allowing more density the developer of any PDD must provide a public benefit and in this instance the proposal is $500,000, with half going to mitigate long standing flooding issues in that area, $220,000 to the American Legion Joseph E. Zaloga Post to use some of their land as a shared driveway and the remaining $30,000 for a new water main along Duffy Lane.
There was some concern about nearly half of the public benefit going to a private company, the Zaloga Post, but Hershberg said the rationale is the group engages in a good amount community service work that does benefit the public at large.
That money, said Mike Crisafulli, will get paid regardless because the best scenario for getting in and out of the development at the busy intersection of Everett and Sand Creek roads is to share a driveway with Zaloga. Each entity owns some of the land and a new driveway will be constructed along with the project.
A second driveway is slated to lead onto Duffy Lane leading to Exchange Street.
Neighbors and board members were not thrilled with that idea, but it is the only logical way to get a second means of access into the site. It also allows people to get onto Exchange Street and access Everett Road at a lighted intersection making it easier to take a left hand turn.
“Don’t use Duffy Lane as an access point. I see accidents happening at Duffy and Exchange Street. There are already backups and the truck traffic on Exchange Street, especially around quitting time is bad already,” said one neighbor. “Accessing Duffy Lane is a killer for me.”
Crisafulli said the only reason they incorporated a driveway onto Duffy was as a secondary means of access for emergency vehicles and is constructing it at the town’s request.
The four story building was also a concern of neighbors and board members.
“One of my main concerns, other than the drainage, is the four stories,” said Carol Chiarella, who lives in the neighborhood. “The whole neighborhood is two, so four stories is really going to stand out. It is going to stand higher than the church steeple.”
Traffic is an issue along Everett Road, Sand Creek Road and Exchange Street, especially at the peak hours. This project would generate 38 vehicles in the a.m. peak and 47 during the p.m. peak, Hershberg said. Comparatively, a 135,000-square-foot medical office building, which was at one time proposed for the site and is zoned appropriately, would generate more than 280.
“When you have a senior housing project, they don’t go out during the peak traffic time,” said Planning Board member Paul Rosano. “They will use Duffy, no doubt about it, but I don’t see it as being a problem. I would rather have seniors drive up and down that road than anyone else.”
In addition to the zoning change, the project would need a waiver for the two-spots per unit as required by the town. Under the plan, there would be 239 spots with 179 on the surface and 60 in garages.
The apartments would be for those at least 55 years old and about and $1,400 per month for a one bedroom and about $2,000 per month for a two bedroom.
“The project can’t by law make flooding any worse than it is now and in many cases can make it better,” said Planning Board Chairman Peter Stuto. “I do have concerns about a fourth floor. I personally think it is too much mass for a fourth floor. They build a quality product and there is a need for senior housing. It would be an easy vote for three floors for me.”