Schenectady County

Proposal would cut density of multi-family housing

The maximum number of units of multi-family housing per acre would be cut from 20 to 10 and minimum

The maximum number of units of multi-family housing per acre would be cut from 20 to 10 and minimum floor area for apartments increased to 750 square feet under a proposal recommended by the Glenville Planning and Zoning Commission.

Town officials have expressed concern with what they see as a proliferation of apartment developments in Glenville. Supervisor Chris Koetzle proposed this plan to prevent over saturation of the market with multi-family housing.

The revised plan is a compromise. The original minimum square footage for apartments was going to be increased from 500 to 900 square feet. However, that amount was lowered because some of the apartment projects built in the last few years, such as Hampton Run, were slightly below that level.

Commission Chairman Michael Carr said the town does not want to discourage development of one-bedroom units.

“There’s no question we need affordable housing in town,” he said. “We certainly don’t want to zone that out of the picture.”

If developers want to build apartments with units smaller than that, they could apply for a variance, Carr added.

The zoning amendment also would require that a portion of the residential units planned for a mixed-use project be built at the same time as the commercial units.

Commission member Thomas Bodden at a recent meeting suggested having developers put up a performance bond when they begin construction. Sometimes developers build the apartments first and then run out of money and don’t do the commercial part, he said.

One issue is whether already approved projects would be grandfathered. Carr said he discussed this with the town supervisor, who believed that they would be.

“We do not want to pinch any previously approved applications,” Carr said.

Kevin Corcoran, director of economic development and planning, said under state case law, construction must be started on a project for property owners to claim that their previous approval is still valid. If the zoning ordinance changes and construction has not started, then the project falls under the new zoning law, he said.

New York Development Group partner Jeff Knox, who is building the Patriot Square project, was watching the meetings with interest. His project to build 156 units on 11 acres off Lincoln and Wilson drives was approved earlier this year.

“I’m just trying to keep an eye on our investment,” he said.

Carr said the town does not want to be a stumbling block for development. “We want to be a mechanism for good growth,” he said.

Commission member Steven Marsh cast the only vote against the recommendation because he said he doesn’t think it will achieve the goal of restricting apartments.

He said a developer could dump 500 apartment units on the market, which would compete with single-family homes and diminish their marketability.

“There has to be an upper limit on multi-family housing. You can only have so many units in the town,” he said.

The proposal heads back to the Town Board for its review and approval.

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