Schenectady County

Glenville animal shelter’s expansion hits snag over zoning issue

The Animal Protective Foundation’s proposal to expand its shelter on Maple Avenue has hit a roadbloc

The Animal Protective Foundation’s proposal to expand its shelter on Maple Avenue has hit a roadblock.

The Glenville-based nonprofit wants to build a 2,200-square-foot addition to its facility on 53 Maple Ave. to expand its spay and neuter clinic.

However, the property was placed in a research, development and technology zone that does not permit animal clinics after a 2001 town rezoning. Any expansion needs a variance or a zoning change. Shelter officials have applied for both, but the variance process is shorter — only taking two months.

The Planning and Zoning Commission made it clear Monday night that they do not believe the shelter has a case to get a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Margaret Huff, attorney for the commission, said applicants must prove they have a hardship to get a variance.

“If you don’t meet one of the criteria, you’re out. You don’t get it,” she said.

Commission members pointed out that it is difficult to prove a hardship because they are currently operating the shelter. The APF should just do the zoning change, which could take about three months. They declined to make a recommendation on a variance until the rezoning request is decided.

Commission member Steven Marsh said he didn’t mean to sound harsh but said the shelter should have planned better.

“They should have started this process several months ago,” he said.

Luigi Palleschi, who was representing the APF at the meeting, said the town created this hardship by rezoning the property.

The applicant stated its written materials that the shelter would have to move to a new site — at a cost of $1 million if it cannot expand.

Commission member Thomas Bodden said he didn’t buy that argument. “They’d rather move than wait two months. That’s ridiculous.”

APF Executive Director Rosalie Ault, who wasn’t at the meeting, said she was caught by surprise by the commission’s comments that they didn’t think a variance would be granted.

“We were given the impression this wasn’t going to be an issue,” she said.

Last month, the Glenville Environmental Conservation Commission had given a favorable recommendation on both the variance and zoning change.

A delay would severely affect the time line and possibly push the start of construction until spring, according to Ault.

Ault said the organization spays and neuters about 3,500 cats and 500 dogs. The APF’s current surgery room is about 12 feet by 10 feet. This expansion would double that space and allow them to double those numbers, preventing needless births and reducing the euthanasia of homeless animals.

“Is euthanasia considered a hardship?” she said.

Ault said the agency was recently trying to deal with several cats from a tenant who was evicted from a Schenectady residence.

When asked when APF didn’t start the approval process sooner, Ault said the organization’s board had to endorse it and they had to start raising money to know that they could pay for the project. APF already has raised about $475,000 toward the $700,000 project.

Supervisor Chris Koetzle said he believes the Town Board is generally supportive of the project and doesn’t anticipate nay issues with the rezoning. “It seems to be a good use for the property,” he said.

He said the board on Wednesday would schedule a public hearing on the zoning change and could act as soon as July after its meeting.

Then, the project would go through site plan review with the Planning and Zoning Commission.

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