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Niskayuna planners continue Holocaust Memorial discussions

Niskayuna planners continue Holocaust Memorial discussions

NISKAYUNA — Officials from Capital District Jewish Holocaust Memorial are moving closer to final site plan and subdivision approval in Niskayuna.

Memorial principals and members of the town's Planning Board last week continued discussions of engineering details connected to the memorial, which last year received approval from the Niskayuna Town Board.

The memorial first proposed by Dr. Michael Lozman has been planned for two acres of land donated by Albany's Roman Catholic Diocese adjacent to Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery.

"There's nothing wrong with the overall engineering, it's just tightening stuff up," said Town Planner Laura Robertson.

In one example, Robertson said, two pipes in the site plan were coming together without a manhole. "Our engineering department doesn't like that," she said. "Anytime the pipes come together, they like to have a manhole."

Memorial principals will return for the Feb. 10 meeting of the Planning Board; the board is expected to discuss a resolution on the final site plan and subdivision at the session.

Once approvals are granted, memorial officials will have to break ground within two years, although an extension could be requested.

Board members expressed concerned about fundraising, and asked what would happen to the scope of the project if insufficient funds are raised.

"At this point, we're fairly confident we'll be able to raise the funds for this," said Albany attorney Dan Hubbell of Whiteman Osterman & Hanna, who has represented the memorial group throughout the application process and public forums. "We're looking at all funding opportunities including, not just private, but also potentially going to the state."

Hubbell also said regional lenders also will help nonprofit organizations.

"We haven't gone down that path yet, but that's certainly an option we're looking at as we move forward," Hubbell said.

"To the extent we hit a roadblock down the road," Hubbell added, "I think that would probably be a conversation that we'd have to have with you as we got closer to that two-year time.

"We're very much aware of what the timelines are here, Dr. Lozman is very much aware, Mr. [Neil] Golub and the other people involved, we know once we get this final site plan approval, the clock starts running on two years, we know we can get it extended if we need to."

Hubbell said once a building permit has been obtained, work will begin quickly.

In another matter, the board conducted a public hearing on a special use permit sought by Gail and Robert King to convert an existing multifamily residential building at 2220 Crescent Road into a mixed-use building with apartment units and space for King's electrolysis business.

King currently operates her business at 2215 Nott St., in the row of businesses that also includes the Niskayuna Co-op.

King has expressed concerns to town officials that a construction project sanctioned by the county in front of the business row will damage the shopping area.

"To continue my business, I feel I must do this," she told planners.

King received support from Lorene Zabin, who saluted her as a longtime town resident and business owner.

"I think it's wonderful that she has lived in this town, operated a business, paid her taxes and been a good citizen and she's asking you for a special use permit so she can continue this, so she doesn't have to move out of town," Zabin said.

Martha Lonergan of Burnt Hills also spoke on King's behalf and expressed concerns that construction would keep her away from King's business and the co-op.

"I simply wouldn't be able to do it if you're tearing up the front of the building," Lonergan said. "It will close her business and she's been a very important person in my life, to get to know her and her integrity and her business skills."

Alex Rufer of Crescent Road is concerned about effects a new business could have on his home.

"I live in the residential houses across the street," Rufer said. "I'm concerned about my property value with the business going up. I am concerned there will be more cars on the street or in the area, it's a very busy street used as a cut-through ... I can't imagine any business going there increasing my property value."

The board is expected to consider a resolution regarding its recommendation to the Town Board during one of its two February meetings. The Town Board will conduct a public hearing on the matter at its Feb. 25 meeting.

The board also approved sketch plan approval submitted by Lou Lecce for a four-lot subdivision at 2520 Vincenzo Drive. Lecce hopes to divide the current 17.7-acre parcel into four lots — three lots measuring about two acres in size and a fourth lot measuring 11.32 acres.

Lecce hopes to build three new single-family homes on the property, joining an existing house.

The property is zoned low-density residential. The board considers the sketch plan a minor subdivision.

Neighborhood residents who live near the property spoke during the privilege of the floor session of the meeting, and expressed concerns over currently existing storm water drainage problems in the area.

The board expects to review a more detailed subdivision plan at a future meeting.

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