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Clifton Park Planning Board skeptical of office redevelopment plan

Clifton Park Planning Board skeptical of office redevelopment plan

Proposed project gets negative recommendation
Clifton Park Planning Board skeptical of office redevelopment plan
Photographer: Gazette file photo

CLIFTON PARK -- The town Planning Board gave a unanimous negative recommendation to the Zoning Board of Appeals on a proposed project that would see an office park redeveloped with several large buildings.

The Planning Board discussed the project last week after the Zoning Board of Appeals requested an official recommendation on the merits of the project.

The proposal consists of a single office park across two properties: 940 and 942 Route 146. The office park currently houses Capital Care Pediatrics, the Sara Marie School and Play Care. The applicant, Winfield Company, is proposing to demolish the existing Play Care building to allow for extra parking, and move the business into a new 11,000-square-foot building on the site. 

The Sara Marie building would be leased to a new tenant and the parking lot expanded, according to planning documents, and the school would move into a new 15,000-square-foot building still on the site.

Under the plans, the two existing entrances to the park on Route 146 would be combined into a single point of entry. New parking will be provided and internal site circulation for buses and other public transportation would be incorporated.

The project was first submitted to the ZBA in order to obtain a number of needed variances for the project, specifically because the proposed buildings would have more square footage than the maximum allowed for the zoning, which is B-1. The buildings exceed zoning regulations by 6,200 square feet and 10,000 square feet, respectively.

Project documents argue that, as longstanding businesses, the location on Route 146 has become integral to their success, but they need expansive upgrades that require zoning variances.

"The existing care facilities are at full capacity and in dire need of expansion and upgrades. In order for these facilities to expand to a size needed to accommodate their demand, they would have to move to a different area of town. The closest area would be near the intersection of Route 146 and 146A. Unfortunately, this area is mostly developed and land values are significantly higher due to the high concentration of retail services," the applicants argue in their project narrative. 

Ultimately, the Planning Board delivered a unanimous negative recommendation to the ZBA on the project based on the size of the variances sought, according to town Planning Director John Scavo. A negative recommendation means that the Planning Board does not support granting the zoning variances as they currently stand.

Buildings zoned B-1 allow a maximum square footage of 4,800 square feet. Scavo said that the Planning Board was sympathetic to the desire of the applicants to redevelop and expand an office park that has remained largely the same for many years. He said the applicants could come back with a scaled-down project that requires fewer variances, and go from there.

"We're talking about a 149 percent increase here," Scavo said of the increase in square footage. 

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