Larry Goodwin

Larry Goodwin

Thursday, 13 July 2017 17:52

Grant Cottage Gets More Funds From Wilton

[Photos by http://www.photoandgraphic.com.]

WILTON — “Our historic sites are a study in human nature.”

That was the observation earlier this week of Ben Kemp, a staff member and volunteer coordinator at the U.S. Grant Cottage State Historical Site on Mt. McGregor.

Kemp was busy preparing for a luncheon offered there Monday to a group of nearly 20 volunteers who take pride in preserving the condition of Grant Cottage.

The former president and famed Civil War general Ulysses S. Grant chose to spend his final days there with family before succumbing to throat cancer on July 23, 1885.

On July 6, the Wilton Town Board voted to provide $5,000 to support a Civil War re-enactment called “The Yanks are Coming” scheduled for October 7 at Grant Cottage. The town is an official sponsor of that event, which may attract hundreds of visitors.

Wilton Supervisor Arthur Johnson said Grant Cottage, situated on a rocky slope just beyond the barbed-wire fences of the idled Mt. McGregor prison complex, “brings in thousands of visitors over the season.”

The town had previously approved a $3,000 contribution to Grant Cottage for this year. Johnson said the extra funds represent “a great economic development move.”

Tim Welch, president of the Grant Cottage Board of Trustees, explained that the town’s additional support helps defray the traveling costs of Civil War re-enactors who live in southern states but plan on attending the October 7 event.

According to Melissa Swanson, the historic site’s executive director, contacts with Grant’s descendants are still maintained after 132 years. 

She said the writer Samuel Clemens—better known as Mark Twain—had convinced Grant to complete his memoirs for the historical record before he died. That project occupied most of Grant’s time at the cottage.

During a brief tour this week, Swanson called the cottage “a time capsule.” She pointed to the same two leather chairs facing each other in which Grant had found comfort because lying in bed to write his memoirs was too painful.

A bureau with Grant’s personal effects and garments stands close by, complete with a large glass jar on top containing a mixture of water and cocaine that was utilized to relieve the former president’s throat pain.

“It’s a love story,” offered Kemp, noting how Grant was a man of “simplicity” and solid moral character.

After serving his country and falling ill, Kemp said, Grant chose the peace and quiet of Mt. McGregor to write the memoirs and make the best of his remaining time with his wife Julia, their four grown children and grandchildren.

Kemp reported that the recent closure of the Mt. McGregor prison complex resulted in a noticeable increase in visitors to Grant Cottage over the last several seasons. The guides who give tours also play a crucial role in telling Grant’s story, according to Kemp.

“People need to feel the connection,” he said.

“We would not be open without our volunteers,” added Swanson, before heading back out to the cottage’s spacious front porch to arrange food and drinks for them.

A special information session is planned for Sunday, July 16, to recruit more volunteers. “They are the heart of our organization,” Swanson said.

For more information, call 518-584-4353 or visit the website www.grantcottage.net

STATEWIDE — Last week, U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro) and other federal lawmakers wrote a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin opposing the planned elimination of a federal tax deduction related to state and local tax payments. 

The congresswoman indicated that, every year, more than 3 million New Yorkers deduct property and state taxes paid from their federal returns. It has been considered standard practice—primarily among homeowners—for more than a century, according to Stefanik.

She said a “tax reform plan” presented this year by President Donald Trump proposed eliminating that deduction. Specific parts of the president’s plan will be negotiated in the months ahead during the congressional budget process for fiscal year 2018.

“We write to you—on behalf of the hardworking, middle-class taxpayers we represent—to express our deep concerns about the proposed elimination of the state and local tax (SALT) deduction,” Stefanik and the lawmakers wrote to Mnuchin in a June 27 letter. “Without the SALT deduction, taxpayers in all 50 states and in the District of Columbia would be doubly taxed—they would pay federal income taxes on the money they pay to their state and local governments.”

Jeffrey Many, a certified public accountant in Saratoga Springs, cited the example of a taxpayer with $150,000 in annual income who deducted more than $13,000 paid in local property and state taxes. That saved the taxpayer between $3,000 and $4,000 on a federal return, Many said.

Many, who routinely monitors developments at the federal level, called it “a very complicated issue” because of the various tax deductions that are at stake. He said the matter being addressed by Stefanik and her colleagues applies mainly to heavily taxed states like California, Massachusetts and New York.

“It’s a long way from getting passed,” Many added.

According to a fact sheet provided by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), Trump’s plan follows years of debates in the U.S. Congress that have focused on reducing tax rates nationwide for businesses and individuals.

“This means that to ‘pay for’ the lower rates, Congress would need to limit or repeal widely utilized deductions, which could include state and local tax deductions,” the realtors’ group explains.

Critics of the deduction for state and local taxes, the NAR statement added, argue that it “subsidizes irresponsible spending by certain states, and forces taxpayers in lower-tax jurisdictions to pay more federal tax.”

In the June 27 letter, Stefanik countered that New York “has been a net payer to the federal government for decades.”

She cited a current example of $96 billion in personal income taxes paid to the federal government by New York City residents. Federal agencies, in turn, provided the city with roughly $61 billion in funds and services.

“Because we laud and support the goals of growth and job creation, tax simplification and tax relief, any reform package must equal the benefits that state and local tax deductibility have already provided for over 100 years,” Stefanik and the others wrote to Mnuchin.

“We hope you will consider the impact on the people we represent,” the letter concludes, “as we continue crafting an innovative plan that also respects long-standing principles of federalism.” 

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Thursday, 06 July 2017 14:23

Cell Service Upgrade?

MILTON — In a bustling part of town, within sight of the Saratoga County airport, many cellphone users still find that reception can be spotty.

That may change later this year if town officials approve a proposal by Verizon Wireless to put up a new communications tower in a wooded area off Rowland Street.

In late May, David Brennan, a partner in the Albany law firm Young Sommer, appeared before the Milton Zoning Board of Appeals on behalf of a partnership that was formed between Verizon Wireless and a Florida company called Tarpon Towers.

Brennan told the zoning board that Verizon engineers regularly aim to find places where cellular service can be improved. He said engineers found a “very large area” east of the airport where there is a “trickle of coverage.”

The approximately 150-foot communications tower would be built on land owned by the Village of Ballston Spa. For decades, that property has been utilized as a water supply for village residents; it is already home to a 55-foot-tall water tower.

That part of Milton, close to the town complex, is currently experiencing steady development of businesses and neighborhoods.

Zoning Board Chairwoman Kimberly Weaver could not be reached for comment.

The zoning board agenda for the May 25 meeting listed the matter simply as a “use variance review.”

Milton Building Inspector Wayne Howe explained that a town variance is required—even if Ballston Spa owns the land—because the site has “R-1” residential zoning.

The Rowlands Hollow development of single-family homes is close to the site.

Both the zoning and planning boards would need to approve a zoning change to allow the proposed cell tower after scheduling public hearings, Howe added.

“I like it to have this extensive review,” he said. “It can be a negative impact to the neighborhood.”

Brennan, after acknowledging that some local residents may be opposed to a new tower, said it would be “not very visible at all.” He added that company officials recently flew a balloon to verify its actual height.

“If we could spend a million dollars elsewhere and not do it here, we would find a different place,” he said.

Ballston Spa Mayor John Romano confirmed that village officials were first approached about building the tower more than a year ago. He said it would be adequately fenced in with access restricted only to Verizon Wireless and village officials.

Romano explained that the village could derive more than $20,000 in annual revenue from the land-use fees paid by Verizon Wireless.

According to industry experts, other companies could contract with Verizon Wireless to utilize the same tower for additional cellular service in the area.

Brennan said that, in 2017, improving reception anywhere makes sense when nearly 50 percent of homes use only cell phones, having “cut the cord” to land lines. 

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[In gallery photos, left to right: A fixed radar sign on Dimmick Road in Wilton, photo by www.PhotoAndGraphic.com; and a portable radar sign on Geyser Road, photo by Larry Goodwin.] 

WILTON — They appear along roadsides more and more: digital signs that clearly reveal to drivers the extent to which they are violating posted speed limits.

“They do slow people down,” stated Councilman John McEachron in early June, as he and the other Wilton Town Board members were approving a purchase of two more of the radar devices at roughly $3,000 each. 

Wilton Supervisor Arthur Johnson said the new units arrived this week, and that they will be placed on Smith Bridge Road. They get mounted to existing speed limit signs and alert drivers traveling in either direction, he explained.

Local drivers know Smith Bridge Road for a sharp turn that has seen its share of accidents through the years, often due to excessive speed. The roadway has a speed limit of 40 m.p.h. and two permanent warning signs with flashing yellow lights on either side of that turn.

Johnson said that land on Smith Bridge Road has been donated to Wilton. Plans are in the works to utilize the donation for modifying that hazardous curve, he added, possibly next year.

In his nearly 30 years of service in local government, Johnson admitted, he has not noticed a distinct rise in speeders—though he knows the radar signs help.

“It makes people at least pay attention to what the speed is...People have to respect” other motorists, he said, “and drive prudently.”

Sergeant Andrew Prestigiacomo, who heads the Saratoga Springs Police Department’s Traffic Safety Unit, said the city first started using its own remote speed radars nearly 20 years ago.

Most modern radar units are either fixed to signs or portable, and they cost between $3,000 and $9,000, he added.

The police department owns a total of three portable units, two of which were situated recently in the city’s outer limits on Geyser Road and Hutchins Road. Both roadways intersect with Route 50.

Prestigiacomo said numerous complaints have been received about Hutchins Road in particular, which has a posted speed limit of 30 m.p.h.

Several months ago, after fresh snowfall had affected road conditions, an early morning accident claimed the life of a young woman on a woodsy stretch of Hutchins Road close to the spot where the city’s portable unit was placed.

In addition to capturing the speeds of passing vehicles, the equipment gives “very detailed data” about traffic patterns over time, Prestigiacomo said.

The portable units can be charged in a garage and they utilize solar power when deployed. If they run low on power, Prestigiacomo said, they tend to give inconsistent readings.

Without the appropriate traffic laws being passed, the sergeant explained, no tickets can be issued to drivers based on speeds recorded by the radar signs. He added that such laws are not likely to be passed “at any time in the near future.”

However, new legislation related to speedy drivers is being supported by officials in Malta, where a fixed radar device appears in a 30 m.p.h. zone near the town complex.

This month, the state Legislature passed a home-rule traffic bill sponsored by Senator James Tedisco (R-Glenville) and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake).

The bill, which is specific to the Town of Malta, would empower local officials to set lower speed limits on town roads and avoid a time-consuming process that is normally regulated by county agencies and the state Department of Transportation.

“It’s not law yet,” offered Malta Supervisor Vincent DeLucia, noting how the bill has not been signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The governor has until the end of the year to take action, according to Adam Kramer, a spokesman for Tedisco.

Many residents in Malta have pressured DeLucia and other leaders to address a growing problem of drivers speeding in several parts of town. “The traffic just goes too fast, there’s no question about that,” DeLucia said.

The supervisor voiced his concerns about speeders on Round Lake Road, Chango Drive and Ruhle Road in particular. He also expressed gratitude for residents who speak up, as well as the efforts of Tedisco and Woerner.

If the law gets signed and goes into effect, DeLucia explained, town roads would need to be “studied individually” with assistance provided by engineers. The town, he added, would not be able to “arbitrarily make decisions.”

“We still need to find out all the details and determine what the costs will be,” DeLucia said. 

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Thursday, 29 June 2017 18:46

City Marketers Give to Foster Care Kids

[In gallery photos, left to right: Contents of "Sweet Cases"; Fingerpaint staffers Lindsay Eisinger, Brendon DiSanto, Zoe McGuire and Bo Goliber, photos by www.PhotoAndGraphic.com; staff assembling bikes and decorating "Sweet Cases"; staff gathered for a presentation by Bill Marszalek of Northern Rivers; and Bill Marszalek up close, photos by Larry Goodwin.]

SARATOGA SPRINGS — A host of family difficulties can force a child into foster care. Direct physical abuse, domestic violence and drug addiction on the part of parents are the most common causes, experts say.

In some of the worst situations, kids in that type of trouble have to leave their homes in a hurry with nothing of value to them.

That is where philanthropy specialist Bo Goliber and 90-plus staff members and interns at the Fingerpaint marketing agency hope to make a difference.

On Friday, Goliber is leading an effort at the company’s headquarters on Broadway to build several bicycles and fill 94 duffel bags, called “Sweet Cases,” as a means to boost the spirits of children served by the Albany-based Northern Rivers Family of Services.

The Sweet Cases, Goliber explained, are a simple but effective way to make kids who suddenly enter the foster care system “feel normal in the moment.”

Many times the reasons behind family separations are “heart-wrenching when you really think about it,” she said, noting how an estimated 1,200 kids nationwide enter foster care every day.

Goliber billed the June 30 event as “our first company-wide philanthropy day,” since employees at Fingerpaint’s Pennsylvania and Arizona offices also will build bikes and fill the same blue Sweet Cases with teddy bears, coloring books and personal care items to be distributed. 

The reality of kids in foster care “really resonated with our staff,” Goliber said, adding that a ”values-based” approach to employee relations at Fingerpaint attracts those who genuinely care about others.

At least one Fingerpaint employee in the Philadelphia office actually had an experience in foster care. “She’s so excited to be able to share her personal story,” Goliber said.

Fingerpaint is making the effort in partnership with a California organization called Together We Rise. “There’s a ton of coordination, but that’s why we partner with them,” Goliber admitted.

Fingerpaint employees were expected to raise $6,000. But with the aid of social media and flea markets offering homemade goods—and a company contribution of $3,000—they raised a total closer to $10,000.

“Giving our employees the opportunity to engage with each other through these kinds of activities strengthens our relationships and our success as a company,” Fingerpaint Founder Ed Mitzen said in a statement. “We’re here to benefit clients and their customers, of course, but we also know we’re a force for good in the world.”

Bill Marszalek, the executive program director of foster care services at Northern Rivers, admitted that connections with businesses like Fingerpaint have a noticeable impact.

“The reality is it costs a lot to provide these services,” Marszalek said. “We’re taking kids in and caring for them every day.” 

Children in foster care need shelter, food, clothes and personal care items like anyone else. Marszalek estimated that between 60 and 70 percent of the kids served by Northern Rivers remain in the system for 9 or 12 months.

There are approximately a dozen Saratoga area kids in foster care at present, he added.

In its latest annual budget—for a coverage area that stretches as far west as Binghamton and as far north as Queensbury—Northern Rivers reported an expense for services alone of more than $72 million.

“Our goal is not to make money,” Marszalek said. “Our goal is to provide service. We’re here for families. It’s hard, hard work.” 

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Thursday, 29 June 2017 18:23

Ride Sharing Launched in City and Beyond

[In gallery photos, from left: Shelby Schneider of the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership; and state Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner with her first Uber driver. Photos provided.]

SARATOGA SPRINGS — State Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) took an inaugural ride to Spring Street Thursday to mark the arrival of Uber, Lyft and other ride-sharing services statewide.

In April, the state Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed to enact a ride-sharing law, which was favored by many New Yorkers. A minor amendment in May made it effective Thursday, prior to the July 4 holiday weekend.

“Bringing ridesharing to the communities that I represent has been a priority of mine since taking office, and I am pleased that all of us in state government have worked together to make that happen,” Woerner said in a statement.

“Ridesharing will not only support small businesses and tourism in the Saratoga community, but will also provide job opportunities and reduce chances for driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol,” she added. “I look forward to seeing how these benefits improve the quality of life for all of us in the City of Saratoga Springs and Saratoga County.”

Shelby Schneider, the director of business retention and expansion for the Saratoga County Prosperity Partnership, said this week that the availability of ride-sharing services will be a “game-changer” for local employers.

For workers who experience difficulties in commuting to work, this “completely new” option could prove to be reliable, according to Schneider.

During a trip last year to Minnesota, Schneider reported, she tried a ride-sharing service for the first time herself. “I was very impressed,” she said.

The two primary ride-sharing companies, Uber and Lyft, do not accept cash payments. All transactions and rides are managed online or through smartphone apps, making it more convenient for customers.

For more information, visit the websites www.uber.com/cities/upstate-ny/ and www.lyft.com

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MALTA — On Monday, a spokesman for the developer building nearly 50 single-family homes in dense woods off Route 9 received a lukewarm response from town leaders regarding a proposed addition of condominiums and commercial space to the project.

At the June 19 Malta Town Board meeting, Scott Lansing of Lansing Engineering was invited to make a presentation focused on what the official meeting agenda called the “Shecky” Mixed Use Planned Development District (PDD).

The board did not vote to approve the PDD, and it was unclear what Lansing’s next step would be to obtain such an approval.

Records provided by the Malta Planning Department indicate that Abele Builders of Clifton Park is presently developing the site, which is located approximately one mile south of the town complex on the eastern side of Route 9.

Together with the single-family homes, Lansing said, the applicants are proposing to add 50 condominiums in a two-story structure whose first level would be reserved entirely for tenant parking; and a second building of 25 “townhouse style” condos.

Other buildings in the front of the property would offer commercial space for retail businesses and offices.

“We do feel it is a different product than is available in the town now,” Lansing said, after fielding numerous questions and comments from Supervisor Vincent DeLucia and the other board members.

Lansing added that the proposed additions were based on “a void in the market.”

Councilman John Hartzell said, in general, he is inclined to oppose any PDD zoning classification in Malta.

Specifically, Hartzell questioned the addition of commercial space to the Shecky project, noting how the local market for retail is “softening.”

Lansing told the board that the applicants are also proposing to fund “a water-line extension down Route 9” of roughly 2,000 feet, which prompted a lengthy discussion about long-standing water problems in the hamlet of Maltaville.

Previously, the Chazen Companies was hired by town officials to prepare a comprehensive review of water-access problems throughout Malta.

Councilman Craig Warner, who chairs a committee reviewing such problems, said Chazen representatives are expected to release a report next week that may help the town qualify for low-interest loans to fund water upgrades.

DeLucia said he is “really anxious” to provide water to Maltaville residents, in particular.

Marissa Mackay, the executive vice president of Saratoga Water Services in Round Lake, was present at the meeting and answered questions posed by DeLucia and others.

Mackay said her company currently provides 900,000 to 1 million gallons of water daily to local residential and business customers, and would have no difficulty servicing the proposed 2,000-foot line that was discussed by Lansing.

“We’re gradually expanding,” Mackay said, based on “a master plan in the back of my noggin.”

Mackay called the proposed extension of water to Maltaville a “public benefit” that would be subject to the specifications of Saratoga Water Services and state agencies.

“The problem is funding— getting it in the ground,” Warner said at the outset of the discussion. 

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Thursday, 22 June 2017 19:14

Two Wilton Projects Moving Forward

WILTON — This week town planning officials approved the addition of space to the proposed Cumberland Farms on Maple Avenue, and considered separately a busy music-production company’s plan to build a new headquarters on Route 50.

Ross Galloway, a site acquisition and development manager for Connecticut-based First Hartford Corporation, has shepherded the Wilton Cumberland Farms project through the approval process for many months.

As planned, the new store will be located at the intersection of Daniels Road and Maple Avenue (Route 9). Galloway said he expects construction to start there by September.

The project was slightly delayed, he explained, because company officials decided to add nearly 500 square feet of space for cappuccino machines, along with counters and seats near a window that the store’s customers will be able to utilize.

At its June 21 meeting, the Wilton Planning Board approved that site plan amendment, which will bring the store’s total footprint to over 5,000 square feet. There also will be gas pumps and ample parking at the new Cumberland Farms.

Galloway said he anticipates final approvals for the project—including one from the state Department of Transportation (DOT)—to be completed by the end of July.

Ryan Riper, Wilton’s director of planning and engineering, said the state DOT will be adding a “two-way left turn lane” on Route 9 to ensure that northbound traffic does not get impeded by vehicles turning left into the Cumberland Farms.

This week the planning board also considered the site plan application of High Peaks Sound, a local company that specializes in providing music production equipment.

On July 8, High Peaks Sound will supply the stage and sound system for Parkfest, which includes a wide variety of music and family activities at Wilton’s popular Gavin Park.

Riper said the company has submitted “conceptual” plans to build a 9,600-square-foot storage warehouse and office space on Route 50 north of the retail district.

Roger Sharp, the owner of High Peaks Sound, said his company is involved in “so many different” events in the Capital Region and beyond that his current home base in the Town of Saratoga no longer suits his needs.

“We’re out of room here,” Sharp explained.

At present, there are two structures on the property in Wilton where High Peaks Sound wants to build its new warehouse.

Aside from the necessary town approvals, legal professionals are negotiating terms of a property sale. The Saratoga Springs transportation company Durrin Inc., which has a fleet of buses available to local schools, seniors and others, currently owns the land.

Riper indicated that officials in Wilton are open to assisting Sharp relocate his High Peaks Sound headquarters as quickly as possible—because, in general, they support local business owners.

Any “unnecessary” delays in project approvals, Riper said, “just cost everybody money.” 

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BALLSTON SPA — A new tractor for village work crews and Tasers for police officers. Cutting down visibly dangerous trees. An upgraded website. The revitalization of an old industrial property that is literally a stone’s throw from Village Hall.

Those were among a variety of issues addressed by the Ballston Spa Village Board on Monday night.

In the “new business” portion of the June 12 meeting, the board voted to approve the purchase of a new tractor—valued at nearly $70,000—for the Department of Public Works. A replacement is needed for a machine that was originally put into service in 1988. It had racked up more than 23,000 hours of use.

“It’s tired,” explained Trustee Robert Cavanaugh, noting how the older tractor still has a trade-in value of about $12,000. That means the village has to pay Nortrax of Clifton Park about $58,000 for the new machine, he said.

Cavanaugh and the other board members approved the expenditure of $3,300 for the removal of eight trees scattered around the village that are potentially hazardous. He said they were identified as “the most critical,” though at least another half-dozen trees may have to be cut down at a later date.

Trustee Noah Shaw praised village staff and the other board members, including longtime Mayor John Romano, for cooperating in an effort to upgrade the municipality’s website (www.villageofballstonspa.org).

Deputy Clerk Cari Scribner has spearheaded that effort, adding new pictures and changing key parts of the website for easier public access.

Soon, Shaw said, residents will be able to visit the website and view official agendas prior to village board meetings, which occur at 7:30 p.m. on the second and fourth Mondays of every month. From there, he added, residents can pick and choose which meetings to attend.

“We all have busy lives. Time management is important to people,” offered Trustee Shawn Raymond. “A lot of people will be very pleased.”

Trustee Stuart Hodsoll explained the need for three more Tasers in the village Police Department, before the board approved that measure and another to increase the annual salary of Police Chief David Bush from $71,000 to $75,000.

According to Mayor Romano, there was no real budgetary impact because a previous administrative change enabled the department to make do with one less staff position.

Chief Bush is more hands-on than his predecessors in the department, Romano said.

In a discussion about the abandoned Angelica property on Bath Street, which is currently involved in a bankruptcy proceeding, Romano asked the board to endorse his two-phase plan for the site.

The whole effort will involve Village Attorney James Fauci and Romano communicating with Zoning Board of Appeals and Planning Board members, and local residents, to develop a plan for the site.

At present, according to Romano, a consensus seems to have emerged that the property could serve as “an extension of the business district” on Front Street.

A public hearing will be scheduled and those unable to attend can submit written comments, the mayor said. The first phase should be completed by September.

The second phase of Romano’s plan would look at specific zoning changes that need to be made for the Angelica property, as well as “certain areas” of the village that can help “expand the tax base.”

Romano also announced the summer board meetings that will be held in the yards of village of residents: the June 26 meeting will be at 199 Milton Avenue; the July 10 meeting will be at 31 East High Street; and the August 14 meeting will start at 7 p.m. at 20 Chester Street.

For many years, Romano has organized such outdoor board meetings because he thinks it harkens back to the creation of a constitutional republic. 

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Thursday, 15 June 2017 16:55

Malta Developer Secures Water Supply

MALTA — In a significant move toward building more than 90 apartment units off Hutchins Road in Milton, Malta Development has reached an agreement with a Clifton Park firm to supply the 14-acre site with water.

Malta Development President Tom Samascott said his company has signed a letter of intent with Heritage Springs Water Works for a $120,000 connection fee.

“It will create a backup supply for 4,200 residences,” Samascott said last week. “It’s a great benefit to a lot of people in the town.”

Mike McNamara, an engineer for Heritage Springs Water Works, explained that the connection would occur near the intersection of Hutchins Road and Rowland Street in Milton where Heritage already maintains an 8-inch water line underground.

The company supplies water to the Lancaster Place condominiums on Hutchins Road and other neighborhoods in the area.

Until last year, McNamara said, Heritage officials had determined that their water lines were nearing “capacity.” Then the company successfully dug a new well and reached a separate agreement with Rowlands Hollow Water Works to increase that capacity.

McNamara added that Malta Development would incur the additional cost of extending water pipes a quarter mile east to its development—a main road to which would be located across from Greybirch Trail after an existing house is demolished and removed.

For months, private negotiations for the water supply have occurred between Malta Development and Heritage Springs Water Works.

Initially, according to McNamara, the City of Saratoga Springs also was contacted because its border is just yards away from the project site on Hutchins Road. But the city declined to supply the water, he said.

The Milton Town Board has not yet approved Malta Development’s proposed 91-unit apartment complex. The board scheduled a public hearing focused on the project at 6:30 p.m. on July 19 at the Milton Community Center on Northline Road.

For several months, local residents have raised concerns at town board meetings about increased traffic in the two 50-year-old neighborhoods of single-family homes that would be affected by Malta Development’s construction project. The new roads built to service the apartments would connect both neighborhoods.

Residents also have questioned the wisdom of changing the property’s current residential zoning by increasing the “density” to accommodate so many apartments.

Samascott said that previous town leaders in Milton, who established zoning rules, “recognized” that such changes would be necessary at times.

Milton Planning Board Chairman Larry Woolbright explained that current zoning rules for the well-forested patch of land allow a maximum of about 30 single-family homes.

Malta Development is requesting a zoning change called a Planned Development District that would be specific for the site. Woolbright said that change has to be approved by the town board, while the planning board is required to give its own final approval.

In response to residents’ concerns about the zoning, Samascott said that building single-family homes is not practical from the perspective of Malta Development.

Increasing the density to 91 apartment units is the only “affordable rate,” Samascott said, because long-term rental agreements would cover the installation of water lines and various other construction costs.

“Without it,” Samascott said of the zoning change, the project “doesn’t work.” 

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