CLIFTON PARK — A developer hoping to convert a long-standing office building into apartments faces a hurdle with the town's Zoning Board of Appeals.
Robert L. Phillips, who owns the two-story office building at 1 Barney Road, plans to turn the office building into apartments. It's within the Clifton Knolls/Mill Creek neighborhood and is located next to the Barney Road town swimming pool.
The building is on a 3.89-acre lot and comprises 30,312 square feet of space, according to a zoning permit filed with the town.
But it is zoned R-1, which does not allow multi-family use, so in order to convert the building, Phillips must secure a use variance.
According to the zoning application, Phillips acquired the lot in 2001 and has been operating it as a commercial office since then. It was built in 1972.
A report submitted with the application — conducted by real estate appraisal company Integrated Valuations LLC — said the office space has been home to smaller businesses and startup operations, such as local yoga studios and personal tutors.
There are 44 offices available for rent in the building, along with two parking areas: one with 47 spaces, and another with 136 spaces.
Phillips could not be reached for comment on Tuesday.
Town Planning Director John Scavo noted that use variances can be difficult to obtain because applicants must meet four criteria: They must show a hardship is suffered due to current zoning regulations; that the hardship suffered is unique to the specific parcel under consideration; that any modifications made will not alter the character of the surrounding neighborhood; and that the hardship has not been self-created by the applicant.
“It’s a very strict standard,” Scavo said. “With a use variance, you have to meet all four criteria.”
In the zoning permit, Phillips argued the current office building structure is inconsistent with the surrounding area, which is mostly residential. It was unclear as of Tuesday how many apartments would be built if the use variance were granted.
Residents have voiced opposition to the plans. A petition has been circulating on social media and had 396 signatures as of Tuesday.
The petition calls on residents to urge the ZBA to not grant the variance.
“We feel the requested change in use will unquestionably disrupt and alter the essential character of the neighborhood, create safety issues and disrupt, alter and complicate public access to town public facilities, including but not limited to the Barney Road swimming pool and the Barney Road Golf Course,” states the petition.
The Zoning Board of Appeals is expected to discuss the request at its March 6 meeting, which will begin at 7 p.m. in Town Hall.