Whispering Pines housing project hearing slated

Project size reduced since last year, now 496 units on 90 acres
Whispering Pines golf club at 2200 Helderberg Ave. in Rotterdam on Jan. 19, 2017.
Whispering Pines golf club at 2200 Helderberg Ave. in Rotterdam on Jan. 19, 2017.

ROTTERDAM — A public hearing about revised plans for the 496-unit Whispering Pines senior housing project is being planned for May 11.

The Town Board on Wednesday is expected to schedule the hearing, which will focus on a draft environmental impact statement related to changing the zoning of the Whispering Pines golf course on Helderberg Avenue from agricultural-residential to a new senior living zone, to allow the Whispering Pines project to move forward.

The original version of the project, submitted to the town in 2017 as a planned development district, was controversial and was withdrawn by the developer, the Lecce Group of Niskayuna, after extensive public criticism.

Revised plans submitted in February call for construction of 496 residential units, including a mix of houses and apartments, on the 90-acre property. The homes would be built over a four-year period, which is a decrease from the 680 housing units originally proposed. The total number of proposed homes had been reduced to 521 units by the time the plans were withdrawn by the Lecce Group in June.

“This will be the main public hearing on the project,” said Town Supervisor Steven Tommasone, who supports the project.

The Town Board will vote later on whether to accept the environmental impact statement and whether to approve the zoning change. If the zoning change is approved, the rest of the project review will be up to the town Planning Commission, which will do a detailed site plan review.

“I believe they’ve addressed all the issues,  and because the project is now smaller, it better fits the area,” Tommasone said. “For the town, it’s providing a service for our residents and those whose parents will need care. We’ll have something in Rotterdam for all of those people.”

The proposal would change the zoning at the golf course, located between Helderberg Avenue and the south side of the state Thruway, from agricultural-residential to a new “senior living district.”

The plans call for 67 single-family units, 58 townhouse units, 119 independent-living apartments, 144 assisted-living units and 108 memory-care units. Some neighbors have said the number of units proposed is still too many for the area, where most of the other development has been single-family houses. They argue it would actually be a commercial operation in a residential zone.

Some recreational uses would be allowed, and the 18-hole golf course would be redesigned as a 9-hole executive course, which would remain open to the public. While there would be a new clubhouse, the earlier proposal’s plan for an on-site emergent care medical facility has been dropped.

The environmental impact statement’s traffic report studies the intersections of Curry Road (state Route 7) and Helderberg Avenue; Curry Road and Altamont Avenue; Carman Road (state Route 146) and East-West Lydius Street; and Helderberg Ave. Lecce Group traffic engineers VHB Engineering, Surveying and Landscape Architecture of Albany said the overall impact would be minimal, in part because seven houses will be demolished to make room for the new housing, and also because traffic to the Whispering Pines golf course will be reduced.

Lecce estimated the project would pay $416,000 annually in taxes once it is finished.

The project would also bring sewer service paid for by the developer to a new section of town. The proposed sewer line would run along Carman Road to Hamburg Street, where that street’s first sewer line is in the process of being installed.

The May 11 public hearing will start at 6 p.m. in Rotterdam Town Hall, 1100 Sunrise Blvd. Written comments will be taken through May 25 at [email protected], or by writing to Peter Comenzo, town planner, at the John F. Kirvin Government Center, 1100 Sunrise Blvd., Rotterdam, N.Y. 12306.

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


Categories: News, Schenectady County

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