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Developer sues Clifton Park Planning Board over duplex proposal

Developer sues Clifton Park Planning Board over duplex proposal

Zoning change hinders duplex project
Developer sues Clifton Park Planning Board over duplex proposal
Photographer: Gazette file photo

A Clifton Park developer is suing the Clifton Park Planning Board in an attempt to overturn the board’s decision regarding a duplex subdivision in town.

In a lawsuit filed Jan. 8 in state Supreme Court in Saratoga County, Abele Builders argued against the town Planning Board’s recent decision to deny the company a special use permit that would allow the construction of 14 duplexes. The development would contain 28 housing units on a 20-acre parcel off a private road connected to John J. McKenna IV Way.

The embattled project has a long history with the Planning Board. First proposed in 2017, Abele Builders approached the board with a plan to place 14 duplexes on the site, which is zoned residential, or R-1.

The project was immediately met with opposition from residents of both John J. McKenna IV Way and Christinamarie Drive, as the project called for an emergency access road connected to Christinamarie Drive. 

Residents repeatedly expressed concerns with the amount of traffic the new development would bring to their streets, where many residents walk and children regularly play outside.

Abele Builders has gone back and forth for almost two years with the Planning Board over the proposal, making various revisions to the site but always keeping the duplex model. The project hit a fresh snag in December, when the town amended its R-1 zoning rules, which changed density requirements for duplex-style housing. Specifically, the new rule doubled the amount of land required for duplex projects.

At a Dec. 3 Town Board meeting, which included a public hearing on the zoning change, residents expressed concern that duplexes could be built on areas that were zoned for single-family homes. 

Many residents noted they moved to town specifically for the availability of single-family housing units. 

In the lawsuit, Abele claimed the law was changed by the town specifically to eliminate its duplex project. 

The lawsuit accuses the town of blindsiding Abele Builders and changing the law right before the company was to seek final approval for its project from the Planning Board.

“Abele diligently and in good faith expended significant time and resources to improve the engineering for the project and address any of the Planning Board's outstanding concerns, with the overall goal of submitting revised and final applications to the board for approval of its special use permit,” the lawsuit states.

In a prepared statement, Clifton Park Town Supervisor Phil Barrett said the town did nothing wrong and will fight the lawsuit.

"The Town Board did not approve multiple requests from the developer to significantly increase the level of density of development for the parcel," Barrett wrote. "We are very comfortable with the decisions made by everyone associated with the town in this matter and will vigorously defend the town’s interests. "

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