Schenectady County

Court: Rotterdam plot OK for housing

Town Board members were justified in their decision to rezone the former military housing complex of

Town Board members were justified in their decision to rezone the former military housing complex off Duanesburg Road for residential use, justices with the state Supreme Court’s Appellate Division have ruled.

In a four-page decision, the justices determined board members followed the proper process under the state Environmental Quality Review Act before voting in favor of the rezoning last year. They also sided with the town’s contention that its actions did not constitute unlawful spot zoning, as Rotterdam Ventures, a subsidiary of the Galesi Group, argued in court.

“Here, although the property abuts a portion of [Rotterdam Ventures’] industrial park, it also projects into an area of predominantly residential use,” Justice Robert Rose wrote in the ruling released Thursday. “The Town, including its senior planner, concluded that rezoning the property so as to permit its continued use for residential purposes would benefit the community by retaining a transitional area between residential/commercial and industrial zones, whereas industrial use of the property would create an incongruity with the character of the existing neighborhood.”

Sync purchased the industrially-zoned property for $1.92 million in March 2008, following a surplus auction conducted by the U.S. General Services Administration. The New Jersey-based realty company outbid Galesi to secure the property, which included six apartment buildings, a two-story duplex townhouse and a single-family ranch-style residence.

Sync began moving people in July 2008 without any approvals from the town or bringing the property’s zoning into compliance. The company argued the once federally owned property didn’t require a zone change because it had continually been used for residential purposes.

However, the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals ruled the argument to be null, a decision later upheld in state Supreme Court. The company then went through the formal rezoning process and faced opposition from Galesi, the Schenectady County Planning Board, the Rotterdam Planning Commission and the town’s Comprehensive Plan Committee.

Still, members of the town board approved the switch in April 2010. Galesi filed a lawsuit against the town in September 2010, claiming the board made the zone change without conducting any of the necessary studies prescribed under state law.

In December 2010, county Supreme Court Justice Barry Kramer tossed Galesi’s lawsuit. In his ruling, he noted that the housing area seemed to fit the character of the area, which has both residential and industrial components.

David Buicko, Galesi’s chief operating officer, did not return a call for comment.

Andrew Brick, the attorney who argued the case on behalf of the town, praised the appeals court ruling. He said Sync continues to operate the housing area at nearly “full capacity.”

“It’s a successful small business that is contributing to the town’s tax base,” he said.

Town Attorney Joseph Liccardi credited Supervisor Frank Del Gallo for his resolve in the matter, saying Del Gallo helped the board take decisive action to rezone the property.

“This is definitely one of his accomplishments,” Liccardi said.

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