GLENVILLE — With a controversial development in Alplaus out of the way, the Glenville Town Board on Wednesday adopted the first new comprehensive land use plan — which guides town planning — in nearly three decades.
The unanimous approval came less than 24 hours after news broke that Prime Companies had withdrawn plans to build a 228-unit residential development on the Mohawk River in Alplaus — plans that raised residents' fears about change to their bucolic community. Residents packed public meetings, including one earlier this month, to discuss the comprehensive plan, particularly as it related to the Alplaus development.
On Wednesday, however, the only residents who spoke were there to praise the Town Board for standing up to the developer.
While Prime Companies has not commented on why its application was withdrawn, Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said he believes it was an economic decision, based on town pressure to reduce the project's proposed housing density, as well as a requirement for an in-depth environmental review and town resistance to granting tax breaks for the project.
The comprehensive plan includes a goal of trying to preserve Alplaus' residential and historic character.
"This really does reflect the public sentiment, I think," Koetzle said.
The comprehensive plan calls for a range of new initiatives, many of which have been discussed in recent years, as the plan has evolved through a series of public meetings and hearings. The goals include efforts to keep the West Glenville area rural and promote agricultural-tourism businesses along Route 5 in that area, while encouraging new mixed-use and light industrial development along the busy Freeman's Bridge Road corridor.
"I'm very, very proud of this comprehensive plan," said town Councilman James Martin, who oversaw the plan's three-year development process.
The eastern half of the town is predominantly suburban-residential and commercial, while the western half is largely rural — an arrangement town officials said they want to keep. Several development moratoriums have been in place for the past two years to prevent unwanted development while the plan was being developed.
Koetzle said the new plan took three years to work out because most of the work was done by a volunteer citizens committee, working with town staff, versus having a private planning consultant develop it at what would have been a higher cost. Development controversies in West Glenville and Alplaus also slowed the plan review, Koetzle said.
The town comprehensive plan hasn't been updated since 1990, and a significant amount of commercial and housing development has occurred since then, including the arrival of Wal-Mart and Lowe's along Freeman's Bridge Road and redevelopment of several sites in the town center area, around Glenridge Road and Route 50. A study focused on future development of Freeman's Bridge Road is separately underway.
Other priorities include repairing the biking-hiking trail between Glenville and Scotia and continuing to promote private development at the Schenectady County Airport and in the Glenville Business and Technology Park along Route 5.
The plan doesn't have the force of law. The Town Board will move almost immediately to the next step, forming a committee that will review the town zoning code, which does have the force of law, to make it consistent with the new plan.