Editor's Note: This story was corrected at 4:23 p.m. on April 10. An earlier version included an incorrect number of total housing units called for in the developer's plans.
GLENVILLE — The Glenville Planning and Zoning Commission has recommended approval of what could become the largest apartment development in town: a 319-unit mixed use development.
The commission unanimously recommended the Town Board approve a needed zoning change for the Dutch Meadows mixed-use planned development district, though members expressed concerns that it doesn't contain enough retail or commercial development to justify being called a "mixed use" development.
"It's nice and everything, but I don't think this meets the definition of mixed use," said commission Chairman Michael Carr during a meeting about the project Monday night. "You've only got a couple of commercial buildings."
The project proposed by Richbell Capital of Saratoga Springs for 30.4 acres on Dutch Meadow Lane east of Route 50 includes 286 apartment units, 33 two-unit townhouses and two commercial buildings — one about 40,000 square feet, and the other 4,000 square feet. The development would be on vacant land to the west of a Wal-Mart Supercenter and other Freemans Bridge Road commercial development. It would be bordered on the south by railroad tracks.
The town's comprehensive land use plan, adopted last year, discourages high-density apartment development in most parts of town but permits such projects in "mixed use" planned development districts.
"To me, percentage-wise, it's all residential," said Carr, who nevertheless voted in favor of recommending the Town Board approve the project.
But while many town officials envision mixed use as meaning buildings with retail uses on the first floor and apartments above, as with a traditional downtown, the developer said first-floor retailers are struggling in places where it is being tried, such as in Malta.
"Nobody wants dark [empty] retail," said William Hoblock, Richbell Capital's executive vice-president.
Planning Commission member Jenny Lippman said she thinks the location is a good one for multi-unit development.
"It's a transition between residential [to the west] and the commercial," Lippman said.
The conditions for approval recommended by the commission include developing a detailed plan for how the nearby Horstman Creek will be protected from stormwater runoff, and for the Town Board to "carefully weigh" the issues surrounding allowing high-density development with limited commercial uses.
Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said last week that he thought Richbell would have "a stronger application" if there were more commercial or retail development included.
The project can't move forward without a zoning change approved by the Town Board. Hoblock said he doesn't know how soon Richbell Capital will seek approval from the Town Board.