Ballston Town Board Sends Proposal for PUDD to Planning Board

Ballston Town Board Narrowly Votes to Send Senior Development to Planning Board

BALLSTON – The Town Board narrowly approved a measure referring proposed plans for a rental community for residents aged 55 and up to the Ballston Planning Board for concept review Tuesday.

The Spinney Group, a development and management company, first presented a proposal for the Planned Unit Development District on 62.79 acres of land located at 60 Middleline Road to the Town Board last June.

The land was formerly used as farmland, but is currently vacant and was previously built on. The project would feature 41 town house style apartment buildings with 264 active senior housing units.

The property would front along Route 50 located in the watershed overlay protection district. The front 8.1 acres of property are zoned business highway 2 along Route 50, while the remaining 54.69 acres are zoned rural residential.

A community area would be constructed in the center of the development featuring a 6,500-square foot clubhouse with 27 parking spaces, a gazebo, a community garden, an outdoor pool and a dog park.

The maintenance free community would feature a 3,000-square foot garage in the north corner for storing equipment such as plows and lawnmowers, as well as 60 storage units for residents of the community.

The development would include single family residential lots along Middleline Road and Wakeman Road. Each lot would be 30,000 square feet minimum and would serve as a transition into the community. The lots would be available for purchase and would not be subject to the age restrictions of the community.

Plans also call for a commercial area along Route 50 featuring three 2-story buildings of 10,000 square feet. The Spinney Group would seek businesses to complement the community such as doctors’ offices, financial planners and restaurants.

While Town Board members previously voiced general support for providing senior housing, the plans for the project call for the extension of public water from Route 50 to the development.

A portion of the project is in the water district; however, an exemption would be necessary to extend water to the remainder of the project located in the agricultural district.

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Town Supervisor Tim Szczepaniak told developers last June that the project could not be referred to the Ballston Planning Board for review due to litigation from the State Department of Agriculture and Markets over approvals to extend water into the agricultural district for other projects.

While that litigation is still ongoing, representatives for the Spinney Group appeared before the board again Tuesday seeking to have plans for the PUDD sent to the Planning Board for preliminary review with the knowledge that a judgement against granting water extensions in the agricultural district could prevent the project from moving forward.

“When we made the presentation in June we were aware of a variety of different issues that the town was contending with,” Spinney representative Morgan Ruthman said. “With respect to water, we’re aware of the Ag. and Markets litigation and obviously as a party to that litigation are keenly aware of the procedural and legal and substantive issues at stake in that lawsuit.”

“Certainly, we’re aware that proceeding at this point to the Planning Board is for the purpose of having some input from the Planning Board, allowing the Planning Board to provide feedback and insight on our project from a conceptual standpoint, nothing at this point is going to be any kind of final determination or binding determination on the town’s part,” Ruthman said.

The Town Board added a resolution during Tuesday’s meeting that did not appear on the original agenda to consider referring plans for the project to the Planning Board.

Szczepaniak noted that the resolution acknowledges the town’s ongoing litigation over water extensions, the Spinney Group’s knowledge that a decision against their allowance could prevent the project from obtaining water and that the developers were proceeding at their own risk.

“That was very important to capture that here in a resolution rather than just voting on this and it does move forward without those stipulations in there,” Szczepaniak said.

Szczepaniak and Town Board member William Goslin spoke in favor of the project due to the inclusion of senior housing and what they described as the Spinney Group’s willingness to work with the town to become a part of the community.

“In the five years that I’ve been on this board I have never seen a proposal that I am more in favor with in the sense of development than the Spinney proposal that you see before you. It has a lot of features that this community will benefit from, the first of which is that residents who are reaching senior age will have an alternative to live in this community,” Goslin said.

He added that the age restriction of the development would add to the town’s tax base without increasing school enrollment.

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“Our community is calling for this, you’ve heard it time and time again,” Szczepaniak said. “Listening to the community, what the residents want is what we are obligated to do.”

Town Board member John Antoski spoke against sending the project to the Planning Board citing concerns that PUDDs create spot zoning that go against the town’s comprehensive plan and the desire of residents.

“I’d like to point out that we do have a comp. plan that was established, it’s my opinion this doesn’t fit into that comp. plan,” Antoski said. “In my opinion any PUDD that we’ve had in this town seems to create problems and that’s because we’re changing the zoning for it that was set up by that comp. plan.”

“So, to change something, with existing zoning the way it is, that to me is a problem without some sort of mandate from the community to say we need to change our comp. plan, we need more development. I can’t support it,” he said.

The Town Board voted three to two in favor of referring the project to the Planning Board for review. Szczepaniak, Goslin and Town Board member Kelly Stewart voted in favor of the resolution, while Antoski and Town Board member Chuck Curtiss voted against the measure.

Following the vote Ruthman thanked the board for their support and offered the Spinney Group’s commitment to work with the town to address any concerns over the project.

“We’re happy to continue our dialogue with the town at the Town Board level, the Planning Board level, we want to make sure that this project works for the town and its constituents, Ruthman said.

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Reporter Ashley Onyon is a graduate of the journalism program at SUNY Albany. She wrote for the Mohawk Valley Compass for two years covering the GASD Board of Education. She has contributed articles to The Mohawk Valley Independent and the annual journal Upstream.

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