Tuesday, January 23, 2007 at 7 p.m.
Niskayuna Spotlight Newspaper, A weekly distributed free to over 4,000 homes in Town of Niskayuna
NISKAYUNA: Residents seek moratorium
Posted on: 02/16/07
The Niskayuna Town Board did not make any decision on the Ingersoll Home or the property it sits on, but the board did listen to concerns from residents for more than an hour at its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 13.
Many residents expressed their fears about development in the community and asked for a moratorium, so the town would have more time to decide what to do with its historic sites and open spaces.
Resident Dart Strayer has done intensive research on the property and the many options that are available to the town. He asked that a moratorium become an option in this issue, because he said the gaps in the town’s comprehensive plan, which was completed in 2003, could lead to bad decisions in the future. Strayer said a moratorium would give the town more time to look at its historic sites and open spaces.
“We don’t have a handle on important historical places or open green spaces,” he said. “This is what makes our town unique and makes Niskayuna a good place to live. A moratorium would give us the opportunity to look at what we want to do with these places.”
Strayer said he was concerned not only with the Ingersoll property, but with land along the Mohawk as well.
Strayer also pushed for an environmental impact statement on the property, which would make the town look at the environmental and economic impact development at the site would have on the community.
Strayer said by amending certain zoning laws and limiting the size of development, the town would encourage smart and appropriate development.
Melissa MacKinnon of Wemple Lane said she was also concerned about the general development in Niskayuna. She was particularly concerned about the existing open spaces.
“I was encouraged that the town has looked at how we can make more safe walking and biking routes. At a global level we have to change and we have to start here. I think a moratorium would be the sensible thing to do,” MacKinnon said.
Strayer said the town couldn’t be sued for imposing a moratorium because the developer has not put enough money, or energy into the project.
It is unclear whether a moratorium would hinder the Ingersoll nursing home from using the $3.5 million it was supposed to receive from the developer to start another nursing home.
Strayer also stressed that Niskayuna already has vacant areas for businesses, including St. James Plaza and Hannaford Plaza.
Residents want the town to look at more options before making any final decision.
“At the end of the day, if you decide to build the mall or tear the home down at least you can say I looked at all the options and I made a good decision,“ Strayer said.
Supervisor Luke Smith said he didn’t understand where the residents were coming from when they said Niskayuna had out-of-control development.
“We made changes to the zoning laws to make sure we didn’t have sprawling development on Route 7. There is limited available space for Niskayuna to expand its tax base,” Smith said.
Smith said a moratorium would delay the process.
Councilwoman Liz Kasper said the moratorium is a delay, but for a good reason.
“It’s not a malicious delay tactic, but it will allow us to come up with more uses and more ideas,” Kasper said to Smith. “You have been pushing this, and I don’t like it.”
The board will discuss the Ingersoll House at its Tuesday, Feb. 27 meeting. Smith said action would probably be taken at the board’s March 13 meeting.
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