NISKAYUNA -- The Capital District Jewish Holocaust Memorial cleared another hurdle Monday as the town Planning Board unanimously granted final site plan approval for the project.
The board also approved a two-lot minor subdivision for the memorial property -- land adjacent to Most Holy Redeemer Cemetery at 2501 Troy Schenectady Road.
The memorial has been a topic of discussion in the town since Dr. Michael Lozman, a Latham orthodontist, proposed the project in November 2017. Capital Region residents spoke for and against the project during well-attended public hearings and informational forums that followed in 2018 and 2019.
In June 2019, the Town Board voted unanimously to approve the special use permit needed for the memorial. Lozman and his team also needed final site plan approval from planners in order to proceed.
"Final site plan approval is a requirement after you get a special use permit," Town Planner Laura Robertson said in January, as memorial principals appeared at the month's two Planning Board sessions to answer questions and make minor plan changes. "It's just engineering at this point. We just need to make sure the engineering is correct."
Final site plan approval came with 13 conditions. Among them:
* Wetlands on the property may not be disturbed, drained or physically altered without first contacting the Army Corps of Engineers.
* Soil erosion and sediment control measures to stabilize disturbed areas must be put in place.
* Before the site is disturbed, memorial representatives must participate in a pre-construction meeting with the town.
* As a condition of the special use permit, hours of operation at the property will be dawn to dusk.
* Another special use permit condition will mean the establishment of a thick vegetative buffer along the Route 7 corridor to protect the area's residential nature.
* For large events that require traffic control, police presence will be coordinated with the Niskayuna Police Department.
Board members asked other questions Monday, one regarding lighting after dark -- a few lights will be on for security -- and another regarding a memorial contact person in the event of an emergency.
Once the board had granted approval, Lozman walked to the podium in the meeting room and thanked Planning Board members and the people with whom he has worked on the project.
"I cannot let this evening go by without a word of thanks," he said, thanking members of the memorial team for volunteering their time.
"I think one has to take a step back and ask, 'Why? Why have they done this?'" Lozman asked.
"I do believe it's a matter of the heart," he added. "They felt deep in their hearts they were doing something of significant value, trying to improve our society, trying to show that something of education value may help fight against prejudice and bigotry and hatred and I commend them for that."
Lozman also thanked the board. "Your professionalism has been extraordinary," he said. "It has been a privilege and an honor to work with you."
Lozman talked to reporters outside the meeting room.
"I'm elated," he said of the decision. "I think it's wonderful, I think it will be good for the community, I think a message will be sent that education is an extremely important element if we're going to combat prejudice and hatred. We're on the right track and I think the Planning Board seems to feel that this was a very important move forward."
The next step will be raising money.
"Now we are able to direct our energies toward fundraising and we're going to start engaging with that," Lozman said. "Our education committee is busy at work, our marketing committee likewise. We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, we have much to do."
The public, organizations, Jewish groups will be approached for donations.
"Everyone," Lozman said. "This memorial is for everyone."
Contact staff writer Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]