TOWN OF JOHNSTOWN PLANNING BOARD

MARCH 21, 2017
6:00 P.M.
TOWN HALL
MEETING NOTES

PRESENT:

RICHARD GOEBEL, CHAIRMAN

RICHARD LYNAUGH,

MIKE MCGRAIL

GARTH BRUCE

SEAN M. GERAGHTY, SR. PLANNER

I. CALL MEETING TO ORDER:

The meeting was called to order at 6:09 p.m.

II. APPROVE MINUTES OF LAST REGULAR MEETING:

MOTION: To approve the minutes to the February 14, 2017

meeting.

MADE BY: Garth Bruce

SECONDED: Richard Lynaugh

VOTE: 4 in favor, 0 opposed

III. SUREFIRE SIGN, INC. – UPDATE ON SITE PLAN APPLICATION FOR BILLBOARD ALONG NYS ROUTE 30A:

Background:

Surefire Sign, Inc. would like to install a 10’ x 30’ 2-sided LED billboard on property owned by the First Choice Financial Credit Union along NYS Route 30A (Tax Map Parcel No. 149.-1-54). The property to be used by the applicant was recently purchased by the Credit Union from NYSDOT as part of the disposition of excess right-of-way along NYS Route 30A. The property is approximately 1.739+/- acres in size with 501 linear feet of frontage along NYS Route 30A. However, the parcel does not have access to NYS Route 30A or South Kingsboro Avenue Extension. Access to the property is along Van Road. The property is located in an M-1 Manufacturing District, which requires a Site Plan for off-premise signs.

February 14, 2017 Meeting:

During its February 14, 2017 meeting, the Planning Board continued its review of Surefire Sign, Inc.’s Site Plan application to install a billboard along NYS Route 30A. At that time, the Planning Board asked that the following information be provided on the revised Site Plan drawings prior to the Public Hearing:

1. A metes and bounds survey description of the property must be shown on the Site Plan drawings.

STATUS: The dimensions of the property have been shown, but a metes and bounds description is not yet available.

DISCUSSION: Mr. Geraghty pointed out that the metes and bounds description is not available because the property transaction between the Credit Union and the State has not taken place yet.

2. Separation distances between the proposed LED Billboard and property lines and any other structures on the property must be identified.

STATUS: Provided.

3. A clarification of the easements that exist on the property must be shown on the revised drawing. The separation distances between the proposed LED Billboard and any of those easements must also be shown.

STATUS: Provided.

4. The access to the LED Billboard should be shown on the revised drawings.

STATUS: The former NYSDOT right-of-way property is shown with 33+/- feet of access on Van Road.

5. In accordance with Article VI Section 84-21 of the Town of Johnstown Zoning Regulations, off-premise signs that are located in the M-1 Manufacturing District cannot exceed 300 sq. ft. in size. Surefire Sign, Inc.’s proposal to install a 2-sided 30’ x 10’ LED Billboard will result in a total sign area of 600 sq. ft. Consequently, Surefire Sign, Inc. must file an application with the Town of Johnstown Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) for an Area Variance.

STATUS: An application with the Town of Johnstown ZBA was filed for the original proposal, and a public hearing on the application was scheduled. That application is now being revised and a new application will be filed with the ZBA in April.

DISCUSSION: Mr. Geraghty explained that, based on some new circumstances, the applicant is rethinking his proposal for the sign application. Mr. Geraghty indicated that he spoke with Town Code Enforcement Officer Ryan Fagan earlier in the day and was informed that the applicant may be withdrawing the variance application from the ZBA and submitting a new variance application this coming month.

County Planning Board Review:

During its February 21, 2017 meeting, the Fulton County Planning Board reviewed Surefire Signs’ Site Plan application for an LED Billboard along NYS Route 30A. At that time, the County Planning Board recommended that Surefire Signs’ application be amended by reducing the size of the LED Billboard to a 10’ x 15’ 2-sided structure with a total area of 300 sq. ft. The County Planning Board felt that the proposed placement of this LED Billboard, coupled with the magnitude of its size, will pose a significant distraction to drivers at this intersection.

DISCUSSION: Mr. Geraghty explained that the County Planning Board simply felt that a 600 sq. ft. LED Billboard was too big for the intersection of NYS Route 30A and South Kingsboro Avenue and would not only pose a distraction but would aesthetically be an eyesore.

State Environmental Quality Review:

During its February 14, 2017 meeting, the Town of Johnstown Planning Board classified the proposed project as an Unlisted Action and proposed that it act as the Lead Agency for the purpose of issuing a determination of significance under SEQR. A copy of the preliminary Site Plan drawings, along with the completed Short Environmental Assessment Form, was forwarded to the NYS Department of Transportation (NYSDOT).

STATUS: In a response dated March 8, 2017, NYSDOT concurs with the Town of Johnstown Planning Board’s proposal to act as Lead Agency for the SEQR process. NYSDOT points out several concerns and issues that will need to be addressed in its correspondence including the fact that NYS Route 30A at this location is considered a scenic byway and no new outdoor advertising signs are permitted along this stretch of corridor. The only type of sign that would be allowed at this location is a sign advertising what is occurring on the property. (See attached letter.)

DISCUSSION: Mr. Geraghty explained that he spoke with the applicant Frank Marzullo, and was given the impression that the original Site Plan application will likely be withdrawn. He indicated that Mr. Marzullo is now considering his options for the proposed sign.

MOTION: To table any further action on Surefire Signs’ Site Plan application for an LED Billboard along NYS Route 30A pending receipt of additional information from the applicant.

MADE BY: Richard Goebel

SECONDED: Garth Bruce

VOTE: 4 in favor, 0 opposed

IV. ROBERT AND MEGAN SMULLEN – PUBLIC HEARING ON A SUBDIVISION ALONG NYS ROUTE 309:

Background:

Robert and Megan Smullen own an 86.9+/- acre piece of property along the west side of NYS Route 309 extending across both sides of West State Street Extension and east of West Street Extension in the Town of Johnstown (Tax Map Parcel No. 134.-1-7). The applicants also own two (2) adjacent parcels (Tax Map Parcel Nos. 134.9-3-4, 134.-1-2) that will be combined with the aforementioned parcel to create a 94+/- acre property. The applicants would like to create a 1.03 acre parcel around an existing house on West State Street Extension. The lot is serviced by City of Gloversville municipal water. The applicants are in the process of constructing a home on the remaining parcel north of West State Street Extension with access from NYS Route 309.

February 14, 2017 Meeting:

During its February 14, 2017 meeting, the Planning Board began its review of Robert and Megan Smullens’ subdivision application. At that time, the Planning Board asked that the following information be provided on the revised subdivision plat prior to the public hearing:

1. A complete survey description of the applicant’s property south of West State Street Extension needs to be shown on the revised plat.

STATUS: Provided.

2. The driveway detail for Lot #1 should be included on the subdivision plat.

STATUS: Provided.

3. All of the utilities available to the building lots should be labeled on the drawing.

STATUS: Provided.

4. Percolation and pit test results for Lot #1 should be included on the revised plat.

STATUS: Provided.

5. Any covenants or easements that will be part of this subdivision proposal must be shown on the revised plat.

STATUS: There are no easements or covenants shown.

DISCUSSION: The Planning Board recognized that all of the requested information was provided on the final subdivision plat.

State Environmental Quality Review:

During its February 14, 2017 meeting, the Town of Johnstown Planning Board authorized the filing of a negative declaration under SEQR for this proposed action. Consequently, unless new additional information has been provided, no further SEQR action is necessary.

Public Hearing:

1. The public hearing was opened at 6:16 P.M.

2. Speakers:

There was no one to speak regarding Robert and Megan Smullens’ subdivision application.

3. The public hearing was closed at 6:17 P.M.

Planning Board Action:

In accordance with Section 275 of the Town Law of New York State, the Planning Board shall, by resolution, conditionally approve, with or without modification, disapprove or grant final approval and authorize the signing of such subdivision plat within sixty-two (62) days after the public hearing. Consequently, does the Planning Board wish to issues its final decision on Robert and Megan Smullens’ subdivision application?

MOTION: To approve Robert and Megan Smullens’ subdivision application for a piece of property along NYS Route 309.

MADE BY: Richard Lynaugh

SECONDED: Mike McGrail

VOTE: 4 in favor, 0 opposed

V. HALES MILLS DEVELOPMENT AREA ZONING:

DISCUSSION: Mr. Geraghty reminded Board members that the consultants working on the Hales Mills Development Area Concept Plan mentioned to them that the Town may need to consider amending its Zoning Law for the properties that will be included in the Development Area. Mr. Geraghty explained that he took some time to look at the Town’s existing Zoning Law and, specifically, the regulations outlining the procedures for creating a Planned Unit Development (PUD) along Hales Mills Road Extension. Mr. Geraghty noted that, when the Town Zoning Commission was working on updating the Town’s Zoning Law, there was a recognition that the impending construction of the Walmart Supercenter on adjacent lands would create development pressure along Hales Mills Road Extension. At that time, Commission members felt that the Hales Mills Road Extension area could become the Town’s “Main Street Area” and serve as a Town Center for the community. As such, the Commission asked the consultants working on the Zoning Law to put together detailed regulations that would prevent any haphazard development along Hales Mills Road Extension and, at the same time, encourage the mixed-use type development that typically occurs in a Town Center.

Mr. Geraghty noted that the properties making up the Hales Mills Development Area are located in a Residence-Agriculture District which would not allow all of the uses that have been proposed in the Concept Plan for the Area. He explained that any developer looking to put together a project similar to the Concept Plan will need to approach the Town Board and request a Zoning change, which would likely involve the creation of a Planned Unit Development in the area. He noted that the process for creating a PUD would trigger a fairly lengthy review process. Mr. Geraghty reviewed an outline of the potential timeline for creating a Planned Unit Development. He noted that it could take upwards of 19 months under the present Zoning Law to create the proper zoning restrictions for the Development Area so that the Concept Plan can be pursued.

Mr. Geraghty pointed out that, as part of the County’s preparation of a Development Strategy, the Hales Mills Development Area was targeted as a Priority Development Area and a great deal of analysis has gone into the preparation of a Conceptual Plan for the area. He indicated that this is the type of preliminary work that a developer would normally have to undertake as part of the process of getting a Planned Unit Development approved by the Town.

Mr. Geraghty stated that the County and its consultants are a little concerned that, when the Development Area Concept Plans and brochures are presented to potential developers, the timeline for creating the Planned Unit Development may be perceived as a significant hurdle. Mr. Geraghty suggested that the Planning Board consider removing the language from the Town’s Zoning Law dealing with the creation of a Planned Unit Development Area along Hales Mills Road Extension and instead have the Planning Department draft new language for the Zoning Law that would create a new Zoning District to be called the “Hales Mills Development District.” He indicated that all of the allowed uses, review procedures and standards could be outlined specifically for the District so that it would complement the Conceptual Plans for the Development Area. He indicated that by shortening the review timeline from approximately 19 months down to 2 or 3 months and shifting the review authority from the Town Board to the Planning Board, the comfort level amongst potential developers will likely be much higher.

After several minutes of discussion, the Planning Board recognized that, given the background work that has been done on the Conceptual Plan for the Hales Mills Road Area, it is probably in the Town’s best interest to attempt to simplify the procedures and standards that are outlined in the Zoning Law to allow a developer to immediately begin pursuing a project in this area. Mr. Geraghty suggested that he be allowed to draft some language for the Planning Board to review at its April 11th meeting and if, at that time, Board members are comfortable with the language, they can make a recommendation to the Town Board. There was a general consensus amongst Board members that the County Planning Department should be allowed to draft language for a new Hales Mills Development District that can be reviewed at the Planning Board’s next meeting.

VI. HALES MILLS DEVELOPMENT AREA UPDATE:

DISCUSSION: County Planning Director James Mraz explained that the Hales Mills Development Area Conceptual Plan is part of a bigger project which is the County’s Development Strategy. He indicated that the County recognized the need to put together a Development Strategy after listening to local developers speak during an Economic Development Summit a few years ago. He indicated that, at that time, developers told local officials that one of the most important things they look at, when deciding where to invest in projects, is a community’s vision.

Mr. Mraz explained that the County’s Development Strategy highlights three (3) Primary Development Areas including the Hales Mills Development Area, the Vail Mills Development Area and the Tryon Residential Development Area. He pointed out that the County’s Strategy will also contain both a Housing Analysis and a Retail Analysis that shows what the County’s demand is for new housing and retail growth. He explained that the Conceptual Plan for the Hales Mills Development Area is simply an illustration of how the Town would like to see the area developed. Mr. Mraz explained that if a developer became interested in the Development Area and wanted to put together a mixed-use development that was different than the proposed layout shown on the Conceptual Plan for the Development Area but still met the intended development pattern for the area, the Town would certainly consider that type of project.

Mr. Geraghty added that, if the Town pursues a change in the Zoning Law for the properties along Hales Mills Road, it will be important that the language be drafted in such a manner that a developer has to create some type of mixed-use development and not simply pursue a large residential project or a large commercial project.

Mr. Mraz showed Board members the marketing brochure that was put together for the Tryon Technology Park. He explained that a similar brochure will be put together for the Hales Mills Development Area. He indicated that the brochure will contain maps and diagrams of the Conceptual Plan and will also contain a great deal of facts and figures about the Town of Johnstown and the County. He noted that the brochure is intended to get a local developer’s interest. He pointed out that if a local developer becomes interested in the Hales Mills Development Area, the company will certainly do its own due diligence and determine if there is a market for either residential or retail space.

Planning Board Member Mike McGrail indicated that he felt developers will simply look at whether they can make money on a project in the area or not.

Mr. Mraz agreed that a developer will have to be convinced that the project is not only feasible but will actually be a good investment.

Planning Board Member Dick Lynaugh asked Mr. Mraz to talk about the property owners in the Hales Mills Development Area and their willingness to sell their properties to a potential developer.

Mr. Mraz indicated that the Fulton County Industrial Development Agency will be pursuing Purchase Options with each of the three (3) property owners who own the five (5) parcels located within the main portion of the Development Area. He explained that the next step is for the appraisals of those properties to be prepared. He indicated that Town Supervisor Jack Wilson has been very instrumental in contacting each of those property owners and all three (3) of them have expressed an interest in working with the Town.

Mr. Mraz pointed out that the County has just finished creating a Water District for the Hales Mills Development Area and has also just awarded a contract for the extension of approximately 6,100 linear feet of waterline to serve that District. He speculated that the work on the waterline will probably be completed by July of this year.

Mr. Mraz then explained the Town’s options for providing sewer service to the Hales Mills Development Area. He pointed out that earlier this morning County officials met with an official from the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision (DOCCS) regarding the County’s potential takeover of the sewer line servicing the Hale Creek Correctional Facility. Mr. Mraz briefly talked about some of the issues that will need to be resolved before the County considers taking over that line as an option for providing sewer services to the Hales Mills Development Area.

Mr. Mraz then talked about the road section that will eventually need to be developed to support the increases in traffic that will result from growth in the Hales Mills Development Area. He explained that the Town will need to acquire an additional 10’ of right-of-way in order to make the necessary road improvements that will eventually be required.

Mr. Wilson pointed out that the Town will shortly be authorizing appraisals for the additional road right-of-way that needs to be purchased.

Mr. McGrail stated that he felt there will be some business owners in the community that are unhappy with the amount of time, effort and money being set aside for the proposed Hales Mills Development Area. He indicated that local merchants have expressed to him some dissatisfaction with the assistance they receive from the Town of Johnstown.

Mr. Mraz indicated that there will always be individuals or businesses that are not fully on board with plans that are being pursued by the community. He assured the Planning Board that the Hales Mills Road Development Area will benefit everyone in the community because it will increase revenues and help stabilize the local tax base.

VII. CLOSE OF THE MEETING:

MOTION: To close the meeting at 7:38 p.m.

MADE BY: Richard Lynaugh

SECONDED: Garth Bruce

VOTE: 4 in favor, 0 opposed