Glenville group home plans withdrawn

Developer cites length of process and other issues
The former site of the Woodlin Club, seen here in 2015.
The former site of the Woodlin Club, seen here in 2015.

Categories: News, Schenectady County

GLENVILLE — Plans to build a cluster of homes at the former site of the Woodlin Club have been withdrawn from the town planning process.

Applicant David Karasz this week pulled the controversial plans, which proposed construction of four seven-bedroom homes for people with Alzheimer’s disease and similar conditions on vacant land at the end of St. Anthony Drive. The withdrawal was the right move, according to Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle, who cited neighborhood opposition and concerns about the project’s appearance.

Karasz, who has built other small group homes for people with memory diseases, said he wasn’t sure if he will reapply in the future.

“We’re not 100 percent sure. It’s withdrawn for now,” Karasz said on Friday. “We’re very appreciative of the town.”

The town Planning and Zoning Commission granted a preliminary subdivision approval for the project in January, but the plans were criticized by neighbors. The commission had planned to host a public hearing on the project Monday night, but the matter is now off the agenda.

State law requires that community group homes — including those for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other memory issues — be treated under town zoning laws as though they were single-family residences.

The Woodlin Club was a private recreational organization that closed in 2011. Karasz, of Glenville, who with his wife has developed other memory care group homes in Glenville, Niskayuna and Rexford, envisioned four houses built on a new cul-de-sac near the St. Anthony’s Lane end of the 11.82-acre parcel.

Construction of one of the four lots, however, was conditional on a land swap between Karasz and Schenectady County that would require approval from both the county Legislature and the state Legislature, because parkland in the county’s Indian Kill Nature Preserve would have been lost to the project. The county Legislature has never taken up the issue, which would need to happen before the plans could proceed to the state Legislature.

Karasz said the prospective land swap wasn’t an issue, though he did acknowledge the length of the review process was a factor in the decision to withdraw.

“I’m a big advocate of the Indian Kill Preserve, and I think the land swap in there was a terrific opportunity for the county,” he said. “It’s too bad we can’t go forward with it at this point.”

Residents who spoke against the plan raised concerns about increased traffic and ambulance calls, both issues that Karasz discounted.

“We were confused by some of the reaction,” Karasz said. “This is going to be an asset to the community — the community needs it. We love Glenville. They’re our neighbors. We have lived there for 30 years.”

Koetzle, however, said the town never felt the project was a good fit for the neighborhood, or that the homes would resembled single-family houses.

“It had eight parking spaces in front of each house, and they didn’t have a garage,” he said.

Koetzle said he would prefer to see a regular single-family subdivision on the land.

Reach Daily Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 518-395-3086,[email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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