Council holds off rezoning ex-golf club
GLOVERSVILLE — The Common Council on Tuesday tabled action on legislation to rezone the former Pine Brook Golf Club property on South Main Street from residential to commercial after a neighboring homeowner questioned the implications of reclassifying the 150 acre parcel.
The Common Council conducted a public hearing during Tuesday’s meeting on a proposed local law to amend city code in order to rezone the former Pine Brook Golf Club at 280 S. Main St. from R1 residential to commercial.
The local law would be subject to a proposed resolution to adopt a negative declaration relative to rezoning under State Environmental Quality Review indicating that the action would not result in any significant adverse environmental impacts. The Common Council declared itself lead agency under SEQR during the Aug. 27 meeting
Language included in the local law necessary to enact the reclassification of the 150 acre parcel states, “the properties bordering the subject parcel are presently situated in a ‘C’ zone.” However, as neighboring property owner and resident Jeffrey Ashe pointed out during Tuesday’s public hearing, only the portion of the property with frontage on South Main Street is bordered by commercially zoned parcels.
“The parcel borders many residences, particularly around the northern side of the parcel, on the eastern side of the parcel and on the western side of the parcel it’s mostly vacant land, but that’s all zoned residential. The area that’s zoned commercial is limited to that area that’s by South Main Street,” Ashe said. “I would ask you to take a closer look at the implications of rezoning a large parcel like that.”
Ashe, who spoke during the public hearing as a private citizen but who also chairs the city Zoning Board of Appeals, went on to note that the proposed legislation did not include information on the owner’s plans for the property following rezoning.
“I’d like more information,” Ashe said. “Should notices have gone to neighboring folks describing what was actually being proposed in terms of rezoning? I learned about it through the newspaper so I don’t know necessarily if you’re here to share facts about what they’re actually proposing or what you’re proposing in terms of subdividing or reclassifying the entire parcel.”
The request from property owners to rezone the Pine Brook Golf Club parcel was made just a few months after representatives with Eden Renewables, a Troy based developer of community solar farms, held an open house at the property in June on the company’s proposed construction of a community solar project on approximately 58 acres of the total available land.
Eden has proposed purchasing the 58 acres on which the developer would construct a solar array with a capacity of 7.5 MWp capable of powering about 1,225 homes. Solar panels would be installed on roughly 32 to 35 acres at the center of the site with a gap of 15 to 20 feet between each row of the approximately eight and a half feet tall axis tracker solar panel modules that follow the path of the sun throughout the day.
The solar farm would be screened from sight with additional trees and shrubs planted along the existing border surrounding the former golf course. Solar farms are not an allowed use in an R1 residential zone according to city code and developers have yet to bring plans for the community solar project before the city Planning Board.
“If you’re considering changing this to a commercial use consider that it now opens it up to more uses other than solar farms, it opens it up to light industry, it opens it up to many other uses in there and is that really the intention that you want to do for the neighbors that live around there currently in a residential property,” Ashe said.
Following the public hearing, members of the Common Council discussed the proposed rezoning in light of Ashe’s comments.
“We say in our local law here that the properties bordering the subject parcel are presently situated in the ‘C’ zone, which some of them are, but I think the majority of them as Mr. Ashe pointed out are actually residential,” Councilman-at-Large Steven Smith said. “Which bothers me a little bit and the size of that parcel and just sort of arbitrarily rezoning that ‘C’ even though we all think it’s going to be a solar farm, or at least part of it is going to be a solar farm, opens that whole thing up to anything that’s in the ‘C’ zone, which is lot of stuff.”
In addition to certain dwellings and home businesses, under city zoning code some of the uses allowed in the commercial zone through acquisition of a special permit or site plan review include conference centers, any use that requires a drive-through, research laboratories, assisted living facilities, warehouses, light industry, parking lots, veterinary offices and clinics, kennels, cat rescue sanctuaries, utility-scale solar collection systems, mixed-use establishments, retail service establishments, restaurants or bars and hotels.
Additionally, Smith, who is also an engineer, noted that often times project proposals under review pursuant to action by the city Planning Board require that neighboring property owners be notified of the potential project.
“I don’t know that we have to notify the neighbors if we want to change zoning, it would seem to me intuitive that we would want to even though maybe we weren’t required to do that,” Smith said.
He went on to suggest that rezoning a portion of the property commercial could be a more appropriate action if property owners were required to install a buffer zone to separate the rezoned portion from the residential properties.
“I’m not convinced that it’s a great idea right now,” Smith said of the proposed legislation.
The other council members voiced their agreement with 3rd Ward Councilwoman Elizabeth “Betsy” Batchelor noting that the council was initially thinking about the proposed rezoning from the viewpoint of Pine Brook’s street address on South Main Street.
“I’d like to thank Mr. Ashe, because I think citizen participation is really, really important,” Batchelor added.
“This is a huge piece of property and sharing borders with the residential people there. I don’t think we should go forward on this right now,” said 6th Ward Councilman Wrandy Siarkowski. “I think we need to study this much, much further.”
Following the discussion the Common Council approved a pair of motions tabling action on each piece of legislation relating to the proposed rezoning of the former Pine Brook Golf Club at 280 S. Main St. from R1 residential to commercial.