CLIFTON PARK, N.Y. — The town Planning Board has been presented with a development proposal that goes straight to the heart of the municipality’s Conservation-Residential (C-R) zoning guidelines.
The project was presented as a concept-only proposal to the Planning Board as a discussion item at the conclusion of the virtual Nov. 10 board meeting. Discussion items give applicants a feel as to whether there is any support among board members for the plan. They are not official agenda items.
The proposal is centered on two large parcels with two different zoning designations. One parcel is the 124-acre already-approved Waite Meadows residential subdivision on Waite Road. The 34-lot conventional subdivision was approved for developer Peter Belmonte in 2011. The project has yet to be built.
Adjacent to the Waite Meadows project on its southeastern border is a 110-acre parcel owned by Arthur Pasquariello. That parcel, which has frontage on Waite Road as well as Route 146, is in the Corporate Commerce Zone. Land in that zone carries a B-5 zoning designation which is suitable for light industrial development.
Since its original approval, Belmonte has queried the board on ways to increase the density of the Waite Meadows subdivision. A 2017 proposal sought approval to purchase, as per town code, 34 more building lots at a cost of $30,000 for each lot. The proposal found no support on the Town Board.
The query put to the Planning Board Nov. 10 was whether it would allow the Pasquariello land to be combined with the Waite Meadows parcel into a new PDD. If allowed, Waite Meadows would receive around 88 acres of the Pasquariello parcel’s development rights in return for having the Pasquariello acreage dedicated or transferred to the town.
Belmonte’s Waite Meadows would become a Planned Development District with its own legislation and the number of residential lots would increase from 34 to 70. The subdivision would then be built in a cluster design with smaller lots.
From its 2011 approval, the Waite Meadows plan has always been to place the homes far from the road with three large estate lots placed between the road and the other homes at the parcel’s rear.
Pasquariello would retain 11 acres of his large parcel with frontage on Route 146. A plan to build several flex buildings on the parcel under the B-5 zoning was presented as a possibility for the future.
As an additional public benefit, a trail would be built on another piece of Pasquariello property that will connect the proposed undeveloped land to an existing trail system on Tanner Road.
Were the proposal to be denied, Pasquariello could put 60 industrial business lots on the 110 acres.
During a discussion of the proposal, Pasquariello’s representative at the meeting compared the expected number of vehicle each day from a busy business park with that from 36 additional homes in the Waite Meadows subdivision.
The plan is unusual because it asks to transfer density from a business zone into the Conservation-Residential Zone, a designation established to control growth.
The proposal drew comments from Waite Road resident Michelle Bissonnette and town Environmental Conservation Committee member Jim Ruhl. It was not the first time either had spoken out on the Waite Meadows proposal.
Bissonnette, who questioned the amount of traffic the 34-unit project would put on the road back in 2011, saw the new proposal as compounding a situation she’d raised nine years earlier.
“I can’t see how this will ever work without restructuring Waite Road,” she said last week. “Are we sacrificing the green space that this (C-R zoning) was supposed to be, in favor of more revenue?”
Ruhl found the amount of information being presented at the meeting far too abundant without allowing time for some background review. As a member of the town’s Open Space, Trails, and Waterfront Committee in addition to holding a seat on the ECC, Ruhl said members of both committees would be interested in hearing about the proposal.
“One thing that will come up in the discussions will be open space incentive zoning ($30,000 per lot) which this proposal completely overrides,” he said. “This is a big change for the WGEIS (Western Generic Environmental Study).”
Days later he added that he views the Pasquariello proposal as a precedent maker for the C-R Zoning; one that has to be very carefully reviewed.
Members of the Friends of Clifton Park Open Space, a separate group with no direct connection to the town’s administration, have spoken at several project reviews in recent months that focused on the C-R Zone.
Their interest is in the continued proliferation of solar projects and housing projects sought in the C-R Zone. Their most recent appearance was during the Town Board’s review to allow housing to be built on the Edison Club parcel.