TOWN OF SARATOGA
ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS MINUTES
February 27, 2006
Chairman Stephen Bodnar called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m.
Chairman Stephen Bodnar led the flag salute and explained the Rules of the Board.
He then asked for a moment of silence to honor Ed Murray, a former member of the Board who recently passed away.
Clerk Catherine Cicero called the roll: Chairman Stephen Bodnar – present, Thomas Carringi – present, Barbara Faraone – absent, Clifford Hanehan – present, Joyce Waldinger – absent, Bill Moreau – present, James Burke – present, and alternate Robert McConnell – present. Chairman Stephen Bodnar recognized alternate Robert McConnell as a voting member of the Zoning Board of Appeals due to the absence of Joyce Waldinger and Barbara Faraone.
Also present: Zoning Officer Robert Hathaway and Town Supervisor Tom Wood.
Approval of Minutes: All board members present had read the minutes of the January 23, 2006 meeting. A motion was made by Thomas Carringi, and seconded by James Burke, to accept the minutes of the January 23, 2006 meeting as written. Chairman Stephen Bodnar – aye, Bill Moreau – aye, James Burke – aye, Thomas Carringi – aye, Clifford Hanehan – aye, and Robert McConnell – aye.
Carried 6 – 0
Order of Business:
Monica and Richard Bell, Applicants
1203 Rte 9P
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
S/B/L 193.18-1-58 Lake Residential
Applicants are seeking a front setback variance of 6’ in order to build an addition to the house. Richard Bell and his contractor, Jacques Boisvert, addressed the Board. Mr. Bell stated that the crawl space underneath the house did not extend all the way to the front, and that he has experienced problems with the “mechanicals” of the house in the winter. Mr. Boisvert said that the front of the house was sitting on plywood lying on the ground, and was held up by “a couple of rotted pilings.” He would like to extend the front of the building by 6’ in order to rectify these problems.
After it was determined that the Board needed more statistical information in order to make a decision, Mr. Boisvert asked that the Board temporarily table the item to allow him time to provide a plot plan. The Board tabled the item while they considered Mr. Pravda’s application.
1460A Rte 9P
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
180.18-1-2&3 Lake Commercial
Applicant is seeking variances to replace the various apartment units and trailers on his property with one new apartment building consisting of 14 units. The parcel is slightly over 1 acre in size. Yar Zujovic and Livingston Coulter, Esq. addressed the Board on behalf of Mr. Pravda.
Mr. Zujovic explained the conceptual plan to the Board members, stating that Mr. Pravda has a permit for 9 trailers on his property. There are 6 or 7 now on the property. He said that he has a letter from the County confirming that there are 14 existing sewer hook ups on the parcel. He would like to replace all of the current units on the property with one 14-unit apartment building, which he says would have only a 19% lot coverage of the site. The building would have a full drive all the way around to keep traffic on the grounds, with one entrance/exit. All the wooded area on the property would remain, including a 70’ buffer at the back. Each unit would have its own garage to keep cars out of the drive. Seven of the units would have one bedroom, and the other seven would have two bedrooms. The downstairs level of each unit would contain a garage. He explained that the intention of the developer is to attract “empty-nesters” who would be seasonal residents. Mr. Zujovic said that he has already heard from 5 interested parties. The developer intends to install two new wells with a holding tank for fire protection. He noted that all the setbacks exceed Town zoning requirements. Mr. Zujovic said that he expects a dramatic clean-up of the site.
There followed a discussion on the depth of the wells (220’), the expected flow rate and the use of a screen on the wells, which provides a wider area for the water to recharge itself.
Mr. Zujovic said the problem will be in clearing the property and digging out the existing gas tanks. He said that the area where the store stands will have to be filled in. The site will be raised 3’ because it sits within the designated flood plain.
Clifford Hanehan expressed surprise that the developer wants to build seasonal units while the trend for the rest of the Lake seems to be that of turning seasonal camps into year-round residences.
Chairman Stephen Bodnar asked whether the State’s plan to replace the 9P bridge would have an impact on the proposal. Mr. Zujovic said the State would be constrained to its existing right-of-way. William Moreau commented that the State owns the adjacent boat launch and could take any or all of that property. Clifford Hanehan noted that the State can also use eminent domain to acquire necessary property.
In response to a question from Clifford Hanehan, Mr. Zujovic said that there were no wetlands on the property, although it does sit within the designated flood plain. He stated that NYDEC has confirmed that there are no wetlands on the property.
In answer to a question from Thomas Carringi, Mr. Zujovic pointed out where the end trailer sits on the property. Mr. Carringi said that the position of the trailer confirmed that there are no wetlands on the property.
William Moreau asked about stormwater run-off from the property onto surrounding properties that might be exacerbated if the ground level is raised by 3’ and covered by blacktop. Mr. Zujovic said that some of the drainage might follow the State right-of-way to the Lake. Mr. Coulter added that there is currently a lot of blacktop on the parcel.
There followed a discussion on why the proposal was before the Zoning Board of Appeals. Mr. Zujovic presented his conceptual plan to the Planning Board at the information stage of its January meeting. Chairman Stephen Bodnar read the minutes form the January meeting, in which the Planning Board stated that it could not approve the plans because Town zoning regulations for the Lake Commercial District restricts apartment buildings to 4 units. The Planning Board suggested that Mr. Zujovic consider asking the Town Board to allow him to put 4 apartment units over retail space.
In answer to a question by Chairman Stephen Bodnar, Mr. Zujovic said that he doesn’t consider the property to be commercial space. He said the quieter, contained apartment building proposal is similar in character to the existing use of the site and with the neighborhood. It was determined that the mixed use wouldn’t qualify as a PUD under the Town zoning regulations, which requires a minimum of 3 acres.
There followed a discussion on the developer’s intent to sell the units as condominiums, with a Homeowners Association to have responsibility for maintaining the grounds and common areas. It was noted that the Town zoning regulations currently do not have provisions for condominiums. Mr. Zujovic added that NYDOT preferred residential use of the site as well.
In answer to a question by Clifford Hanehan regarding possible subletting of the units, Mr. Coulter said he didn’t think the Homeowners Association would allow it.
Mr. Coulter pointed out that there are presently 14 units on the property, but Mr. Pravda has a permit that would allow 2 more trailers to be added. Chairman Stephen Bodnar responded that Tax Assessor Catherine DeFelice has reported that only 3 units are currently being taxed for sewer hook-up.
Chairman Stephen Bodnar said that he agrees that the site should be cleaned up but questioned the number of proposed units. Mr. Zujovic said that fewer units wouldn’t cover the costs necessary to clean up the site.
In answer to a question from Clifford Hanehan, Mr. Zujovic said that there was previously gas on the site, but he has documentation from the NYDEC that the site has been remediated.
Proof of notice having been furnished on February 17, 2006, Chairman Stephen Bodnar opened the Public Hearing at 8:34 p.m.
Kathleen and Michael Stanko, 1458A Rte 9P – against. Mrs. Stanko stated that she was in favor of cleaning up the site, but had many concerns. She provided the Board members with a list of those concerns (a copy is attached to the minutes in the
Minutes Book), which included the density of the development, lighting, parking, compliance with Town zoning regulations, and stormwater management. She added that she had not received any notice of the proposal from Mr. Zujovic.
Mr. Stanko commented that a lot of the property is covered by crushed stone, not macadam, as stated earlier in the meeting. He wanted to know what plans Mr. Zujovic had for garbage pick-up, and whether any traffic studies had been conducted.
Chairman Stephen Bodnar explained that a number of the concerns raised by the Stankos were issues that would have to be addressed by the Planning Board if the proposal were to go forward, such as traffic and lighting. He said it was the Zoning Board of Appeals’ responsibility to determine how many units would be allowed on the property.
All those wishing to speak having done so, the Public Hearing was closed at 8:51 p.m.
Robert McConnell was interested in the County’s review of the project. He noted that there is an ongoing sewer study of that area. There was no response from the County yet.
Mr. Zujovic said the plans were still conceptual in nature and that he’s trying to figure out what’s possible for the property. He said that he would notify the State, as owner of the adjacent boat launch, of the proposal.
Chairman Stephen Bodnar stated that he was unable to determine any numbers from the information given. He said that he would definitely not allow 16 units to be grandfathered in, but wasn’t sure about 14 units.
Mr. Coulter commented that, if only 4 units were allowed, the proposal wouldn’t go forward.
When asked by Chairman Stephen Bodnar whether he had any comments, Zoning Officer Robert Hathaway said that he was at a loss to explain why the matter was before the Zoning Board of Appeals. He considered it an issue that should be dealt with by the Town Board or the Planning Board.
Chairman Stephen Bodnar made a motion to postpone any action on this matter for thirty days in order to obtain more information. Clifford Hanehan seconded the motion. Chairman Stephen Bodnar – aye, Bill Moreau – aye, James Burke – aye, Thomas Carringi – aye, Clifford Hanehan – aye, and Robert McConnell – aye.
Carried 6 – 0 TABLED
Monica and Richard Bell (cont.)
Mr. Boisvert provided the Board members with a plot plan, showing that the purpose of the additional 6’ in the front of the building is for drainage. Mr. Bell stated that he has owned the house for 4 years and put on a new roof and siding. The plot plan showed a distance of 5’ from the back of the garage to the fence line. The front of the garage abuts the access road. It was noted that one neighbor is 15’ from the fence line while the other is about 10’.
Chairman Stephen Bodnar determined that Mr. Bell would need a 20’ front variance and a 2% area variance for the project. When asked by Chairman Stephen Bodnar if he had a problem with granting the variance, Zoning Officer Robert Hathaway said no.
Proof of notice having been furnished on February 17, 2006, Chairman Stephen Bodnar opened the Public Hearing at 9:03 p.m. There were no interested parties; the Public Hearing was closed.
Clifford Hanehan made a motion to grant the requested variance to add 6’ to the front of the house and to allow a lot coverage of 22%. He said that Mr. Bell would be allowed to maintain the same distance from his neighbors, but there could be no further encroachment.
Robert McConnell asked Mr. Bell if he had notified his neighbors. Mr. Bell responded that he had discussed the situation with one neighbor, but was unable to contact the other.
Robert McConnell then seconded the motion. Chairman Stephen Bodnar – aye, Bill Moreau – aye, James Burke – aye, Thomas Carringi – aye, Clifford Hanehan – aye, and Robert McConnell – aye.
Carried 6 – 0 GRANTED
Old Business: none.
New Business: Clifford Hanehan asked the Board what they thought of the apartment proposal. The Board members expressed an interest in cleaning up that parcel of property but also expressed concern over the number of proposed units.
Zoning Officer Robert Hathaway noted that, if Mr. Pravda wanted to replace his old trailers with new ones, he would have to receive a permit from the Town Zoning Officer.
Thomas Carringi commented that the trailers currently on the property were quite large. Some of the trailers are occupied, but no information was provided on how many, nor on exactly how long some of the trailers had been empty, although Mr. Zujovic said that was approximately one year.
Town Supervisor Tom Wood stated that he would like to know the dimensions of the existing trailers.
Robert McConnell stated that there is no way of knowing what number of units is economically feasible for Mr. Pravda. He said he supported the concept of bettering the property and replacing the existing eyesore. He added that the Board cannot permit condominiums if the Town doesn’t recognize them in the zoning regulations.
There followed a brief discussion on the distinction between condominiums and townhouses. Town Supervisor Tom Wood stated that it would probably be a better tax situation for the Town if the units were townhouses. He also noted that the Town currently does not provide for condominiums in its zoning regulations; however, the Town Board can always enact a definition if necessary.
Town Supervisor Tom Wood reported that the Town Board would address the issues of mass gatherings, adult entertainment, and water standards at its next meeting.. There will be some testing requirements for water, but not the all-inclusive standards used by Clifton Park.
Originally, the Town was considering limiting adult entertainment to the Lake Commercial District. Now, however, after discussions with Town Attorney William
Reynolds, the Town will probably use distance requirements to restrict such development.
Finally, he reported that gatherings of 500 or more people would have to meet certain safety and sanitary requirements.
Town Supervisor Tom Wood stated that the ZAAC proposals are making progress. There has been some community participation, including written comments. He said that September is now a more realistic timeframe than June.
The next regular meeting will be March 27, 2006 at 7:30 p.m.
James Burke made a motion to adjourn at 9:32 p.m. The motion was seconded by Clifford Hanehan. Chairman Stephen Bodnar – aye, William Moreau – aye, James Burke – aye, Clifford Hanehan – aye, Thomas Carringi – aye, and Robert McConnell – aye. Carried 6 – 0
Catherine E. Cicero