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What you need to know for 12/13/2017

Community character at heart of Alplaus review

Community character at heart of Alplaus review

Many residents are concerned about impacts of project
Community character at heart of Alplaus review
An anti-development sign appears on an Alplaus Avenue yard opposite Maritime Drive in Alplaus.
Photographer: Stephen Williams

GLENVILLE — The town will focus on the impact on a small community's character and increased traffic as it reviews controversial plans for a 228-unit residential development along the Mohawk River in Alplaus.

Those items were identified as among the largest issues that will be studied as the developer of the proposed Prime Mohawk project conducts a full environmental impact on its plans, as the Town Board recently ordered.

The board held a workshop Wednesday night to discuss the scope of the study, which is likely to take months.

“I think it’s important to bring some definition to what community character is," said Councilman James Martin. "It’s a very important term to this particular project and this particular community.”

Many Alplaus residents are concerned about the impacts of the project, and a number of anti-development signs are posted on local lawns.

The condominium plan, first presented to the town informally in June 2016, originally called for 390 multi-family housing units on 84 acres of formerly industrial land owned by an affiliate of Kivort Steel. The building density has since been reduced in response to feedback from residents and town officials.

It now includes 228 units: 160 condominiums, 37 townhouses, and 31 single-family homes. A clubhouse, recreational facilities and maintenance of a marina and boat storage operation on the land are also part of the plans.

"One of the ways of defining character is the percentage of multi-family units in the community. If there's a chance in that, it's a big change in the character of the community," said Michael McHale, president of the Alplaus Residents Association.

Another resident calls the prospective development a "profound change" in the character of the hamlet, where nearly all the housing is at least 100 years old. Representatives of the Burnt Hills Rowing Association — which has deeded access to the river nearby — said they were concerned about increased traffic, given the organization's sometimes-intense use of their boathouse.

About 25 residents of Alplaus, which has about 450 residents, attended the meeting. During previous discussions, town officials asked for less density and the inclusion of single-family homes, since Aplaus is predominately single-family homes.

"Although we appreciate the work the Glenville Town Board has done to reduce the size of the original proposal by Prime Companies,  the current proposal is still much too large," the residents' association said in written comments to the Town Board.

Two Democrats running for the Glenville Town Board this fall — Mike Godlewski and Mike Aragosa — have come out against the project, which can't go forward unless the Town Board approves a zoning change.

"Zoning exists for a reason. If they can put condominiums in Alplaus, they can put them anywhere in Glenville, and that isn't fair to the residents," Aragosa said in a press release last week.

The developer is seeking a planned development district, a zone specifically tailored to the project. The land is currently zoned for industrial use.

Dean DeVito, representing Prime Cos., indicated that making the development smaller or eliminating the apartments would make the project financially infeasible.

Cleaning up the industrial contamination at the site — for which Prime expects to receive state brownfield cleanup tax credits — is an integral part of the plan. The site, once used by General Electric for industrial testing, contains PCBs and metals.

In addition to the general impact on the community, there are concerns about the impact on the school system and police and fire services.

Flooding is also a significant concern, since some of the proposed apartments or condominiums will be in Mohawk River flood plain. "Anyone familiar with the area, it floods regularly," said Bud Watson, a local resident.

DeVito said the buildings near the river will be designed to have parking on the bottom floor, with the residential areas above the flood plain. The garage areas will be designed so that water can pass through them, he said.

Town residents will have until mid-September to submit ideas for what else should be included in the environmental impact study. After that, the developer will study the issues, and the town will then review the draft study and hold a public hearing.

Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said it is too soon to know how long the environmental review will take.

Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams at 395-3086, swilliams@dailygazette.net or @gazettesteve on Twitter.

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