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Troy Planning Board Seeks Additional Info On Apartment Concept

A concept for an apartment complex in Troy
A concept for an apartment complex in Troy

A controversial concept to develop a riverfront parcel in Troy is continuing to receive criticism from the community. As WAMC’s Southern Adirondack Bureau Chief Lucas Willard reports, the city planning board is seeking more information from the developer.

A concept being floated by developer Kevin Vandenburgh would place more than 200 apartments on a piece of land in the northernmost section of Troy along the Hudson River.

The idea has been met with opposition for months from neighbors, including the Fisher family, who reside next door to the land, which is currently wooded.

Evangeline Fisher says she enjoys viewing the wildlife out her window.

“And to think the apartment buildings are going to go up and we aren’t going to see any of that…where are the wildlife going to go? I am highly against the re-zoning,” said Evangeline Fisher.

Also speaking during Tuesday night’s planning board meeting, Adam Fisher suggested an alternative location just down the road.

“Wouldn’t the old Price Chopper be better? Isn’t it already zoned for such a project?” asked Adam Fisher.

But perhaps the most prominent concern over the last few months centers around the parcel’s historical importance to native people.

Sachem Robert HawkStorm of the Schagticoke First Nations wrote a letter to the Troy planning board ahead of Tuesday’s meeting that reads in part:

“This land was a permanent and semi-permanent settlement of various groups of Algonquin-speaking indigenous Peoples and included a critical ceremonial ground. The land was also a quarry for the production of tools and weapons, particularly arrowheads and still contains a significant portion of indigenous artifacts.”

The grassroots organization Friends of the Mahicantuck has led a campaign to preserve the land from development, submitting a petition to the City of Troy with over two thousand signatures in support.

Jessica Bennett, who lives across the street from the concept on Second Street, asked the planning board to require the developer to initiate a state environmental review by submitting an environmental assessment form.

“We really implore you here. Start the EAF, which inherently addresses zoning, and initiate the SEQR process. It will make all of our lives easier, including yours,” said Bennett.

After two hours of public comment, planning board member Anthony Mohen said it would be helpful for the commission to have more information – including a long-form EAF – on the potential environmental impacts of rezoning the property.

“I’m not saying we’re requiring it, but certainly more information would be helpful to us in making a decision on whether to recommend this to the council,” said Mohen.

Responding to the comments and Mohen’s request, Project Manager Jamie Easton said he would address concerns and provide more information at the planning board’s next meeting on January 28th.

“Obviously there were a lot of comments that were received tonight – and a lot of them were very good – but obviously it’s my job to represent the applicant here and let the board understand from a different point of view how these comments will be addressed or how they are addressed to this process,” said Easton.

The planning board has not set a date on when to make its non-binding recommendation to the city council that the council consider a zoning change for the property.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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