Malta Town Board workshop on Luther Forest Tech Campus/Ballston Journal

Town Hopes to Preserve Malta Ridge Orchard

MALTA – The town is applying for state funds to purchase development rights so as to preserve 131 acres of orchard and farmland on Van Aernem Road and Malta Avenue.

The plan, announced by Supervisor Paul Sausville at Monday’s Town Board agenda meeting, calls for buying the development rights from Malta Ridge Orchard & Gardens for $590,265.  Sausville said that number is the result of an appraisal, but the cost to the public would be reduced by 12.5 percent off the top as a result of a contribution from the owner, David Bowman. The town is hoping 75 percent of the total cost will come from the state’s farmland protection program. The rest, at 6.25 percent each, would come from the town and Saratoga County.

Audrey Ball, the town’s director of Parks, Recreation and Human Services, said later that she is hopeful the state funding will be approved. She and Bowman, who attended the meeting, noted separately that the state recently put more money into its agriculture protection fund.

Come to the Malta Career Expo & Job Fair at the Malta Community Center on Thurs., Oct. 8

Most of the property, which Bowman inherited from his father, is orchard, and visible on the west side of the Northway between Exits 13 and 12.  The store on the property at Van Aernem Road sells home-grown products, and has been upgraded.

In other news, the status of the Steeplechase Nature Preserve on the east side of Route 9 between Northway Exits 12 and 13 is up in the air. Sausville said the county has initiated foreclosure proceedings which could result in an auction next March, but that the town would try to prevent that from happening.

The issue stems from an unpaid tax bill from 2012, which with interest now amounts to about $5,000, Sausville said. The 141-acre preserve is owned by developers Albany Partners, and serves as a neighborhood park for a housing development and apartment complex. It is no longer assessed as taxable property. The preserve was at one point a town park, and could become one again if the Town Board favored that option, Sausville said.

The board tentatively decided to hold a Sept. 28 public hearing at 6:30 p.m. on proposed amendments to the Luther Forest Technology Campus planned development district.

The amendments would permit various kinds of high-tech development there, not just those related to semiconductors, and would remove a prohibition against payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements, which are a common development tool in New York. No more than 50,000 square feet of commercial space would be permitted on the campus, in order to limit competition to downtown businesses.

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Reporter Bob Conner has worked 21 years in various positions at the Gazette of Schenectady, and before that four years as a reporter at the Glens Falls Post-Star. He won two first-place writing awards from the New York Associated Press Association for newspapers with circulation between 50,000 and 250,000. Bob has a Phi Beta Kappa bachelor’s degree in journalism from New York University, and an associate’s degree in chemical dependency counseling from HVCC. He is a published author and is currently writing a historical novel about the last four months in the life of Ulysses S.Grant

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