Controversial Gloversville projects may soon get hearings

The Planning Board will decide Tuesday whether two of the city’s largest and most controversial proj

The Planning Board will decide Tuesday whether two of the city’s largest and most controversial projects are ready for a public hearings.

At prior meetings, the board delayed scheduling hearings for Kinderhook Development’s proposed $11 million, 48-unit apartment complex off Lee Avenue and for the YMCA’s proposed $3.5 million, 23-bed expansion of its East Fulton Street homeless housing facility.

The hearings were delayed while the board commenced environmental impact reviews and sought additional information from both developers.

Fulton County Senior Planner Sean Geraghty, adviser to the board, said Thursday a decision to move into the hearing process will depend on whether board members are satisfied with the information submitted.

YMCA officials were asked to provide more information about the planned operation of the new apartments that will fill the first and second floors of the building. The building already houses 23 single units on its third floor.

The plan to create full apartments with kitchens and bathrooms for the bottom two floors was devised last year after the Zoning Board of Appeals rejected an original proposal to expand the third-floor format, where occupants share a communal bathroom and have no kitchen facilities.

The ZBA found that the original plan would create institutional housing or a rooming house, two uses barred in the downtown commercial zone.

The project would be financed by a $3.5 million grant awarded in 2007 by the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which this year approved the revised plan.

The YMCA proposal is opposed by many downtown merchants and some city officials who argue an increase in the homeless population in the business district will adversely affect the city’s revitalization goals.

The revised project is also drawing some criticism from opponents who contend that since tenants will be assigned roommates in the complex, the units are not true apartments compatible with zoning.

Meanwhile, Kinderhook Development of Canastota, which operates a number of apartment complexes statewide including two in Rotterdam, has a site compatible with the city zoning code for an apartment complex.

Neighbors of the site, though, oppose the proposed complex, arguing it will exacerbate a groundwater problem and also change the character of the neighborhood, which has long been isolated on two dead-end streets.

Kinderhook partner Donna Bonfardeci said an engineering study completed at the site determined surface water runoff from the project would not contribute to groundwater problems in the neighborhood, which lies to the east of the site and is often saturated.

Bonfardeci said Thursday her company has spent $54,000 studying the site.

“I know more about that site than probably anyone else,” she said.

The Fulton County Chamber of Commerce sent a letter of support for the project to the state Housing Trust Fund, the agency that declared the complex eligible for the Affordable Workforce Housing program.

Chamber President Wally Hart said Thursday the chamber supports the project in general but is not taking a position on its location.

However, he said, the chamber is encouraging Mayor Dayton King to revise the city’s zoning map to ensure that zones marked to accommodate specific types of development are entirely suitable for those projects.

He said developers should not be put in the position where they are rejected despite identifying a properly zoned site and then investing significant sums of money preparing a proposal.

If the complex is approved, local builder Kucel Contractors would construct it.

Kinderhook is working in partnership with the Community Heritage Corp., an arrangement ensuring eligibility for the Affordable Housing Program.

The state program provides low-interest, long-term financing.

Categories: Schenectady County

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