TOWN OF AMSTERDAM — A homeowner on Log City Road in the town of Amsterdam is trying to organize concerned neighbors against a vast residential development planned on over 100 acres of vacant fields along the rural road.
“The residents of Log City just don’t feel like this is something appropriate for this area,” Nicole Nawrot said Monday.
The project, Nawrot said, threatens to upend the lifestyle she and her husband sought when they bought a home on Log City Road and moved to the town of Amsterdam from Malta to escape increasingly dense development around two years ago.
“Coming out here it was just the exact opposite of where we were. It’s quiet, it’s peaceful, we get to see wildlife every day,” Nawrot said. “It’s just the perfect spot for us.”
It was only within the last week when she saw a social media post that Nawrot learned about the residential development planned by Bruns Realty Group on the expanse of open fields abutting her home. She said neighbors she has spoken to since were similarly surprised.
“We feel a little blindsided,” Nawrot said.
However, Town Supervisor Thomas DiMezza said multiple public hearings on the project have been held by the Town Board and Planning Board over the last several years and months. Required legal notices were published and mailings were sent to residents living within a certain distance of the site each time. Scheduled hearings were also noted on meeting agendas.
“We did take care of things the way they’re supposed to be taken care of,” DiMezza said. “People have been getting the notice and have been coming to the meetings.”
The residential project on Log City Road is part of a Planned Unit Development rezoning just over 92 acres originally approved by the Town Board around four years ago. Initial plans from former property owner Concord Development Corporation involved a mixed-use concept with commercial and residential spaces.
The still undeveloped land was bought last year by Bruns for approximately $1.34 million, according to Montgomery County property records. The Town Board approved an amendment to the PUD early this year removing the commercial buildings to increase the number of apartments and boosting the rezoned area to just over 108 acres.
The overall project will eventually involve the construction of 168 apartments on about 16.5 acres, 82 condominiums in a 20-acre area, 256 condominiums across another area spanning over 60 acres and four single-family homes along Log City Road just west of Route 30.
The Planning Board last week approved the site plan for the apartments, which Bruns is planning as a net zero community using technology and materials to ensure no more energy is used than can be generated on-site by renewable sources. Public hearings were held at each stage in the approval process.
Although the project has already been approved, Nawrot has started an online petition to stop the development with over 50 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon. She will also circulate flyers to neighbors on Log City Road trying to organize residents against the project and hasn’t ruled out the possibility of pursuing a legal challenge.
“I know it’s a last ditch effort,” Nawrot said. “Nobody knew about it so no regard was given for the residents here.”
Officials did not fully consider the impacts from the project, Nawrot contends. Construction and the subsequent influx of residents to the area afterwards would create noise carrying across the surrounding rural area of mostly spread out homes and farms. Wildlife habitats would be destroyed, including those of threatened or endangered birds, she said.
Potential disturbances to wetlands bordering her property from groundwater runoff or contamination of local groundwater are her biggest concerns.
Bruns previously was required by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to upgrade its on-site sewer treatment plant at its NetZero Village in Rotterdam, according to the Times Union.
The system, permitted to release treated waste to dissipate into the groundwater, was producing excess ammonia and oxygen reducing compounds, which can harm aquatic life. Bruns was fined $4,000 and was required to ensure the functionality of the system by the DEC, the Times Union reported in 2019.
However, Bruns will connect its Amsterdam apartment complex to municipal water and sewer lines that will be extended to the site from nearby Route 30. Stormwater management plans were reviewed by the town engineer in conjunction with the Planning Board and any required permits must be obtained from the DEC.
Officials considered all facets of the project and potential impacts through the required State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process, according to DiMezza, who said apartments and similar housing communities where tenants don’t have to worry about maintenance responsibilities are needed in the town.
“We have all the conveniences here now, we have a great shopping area and we need the people to sustain this,” DiMezza said. “The developers have projects in other areas that look fantastic and this is going to be the same way, it’s going to be a great asset to the town.”
Only the 168 apartments across 13 buildings, along with related infrastructure and on-site amenities are proceeding towards construction by Bruns at this time. The grounds will feature three areas of open space for recreational use, a dog park and a community garden. A community center is also planned for construction.
The project featuring roof mounted solar panels on apartment buildings and covered parking areas, along with other energy efficient design elements was recently awarded a $1 million grant through the state’s Buildings of Excellence Competition.
“It’s going to be one of these projects that is really out in the forefront of creating housing in this area,” DiMezza said. “A lot of people don’t like to see things in their backyard … but this is progress.”
Yet, Nawrot said the project will be detrimental to existing Log City Road residents. She plans to present her opposing petition to the Town Board in the coming days hoping local officials or Bruns will reevaluate their decisions.
“They’ve only looked at one side of it,” Nawrot said. “It’s behind Route 30, but it’s also behind more than a dozen residential homes. Most of them moved out here for the same reason myself and my husband did. We were looking for this lifestyle, this aesthetic. We were looking for something quiet, peaceful and that’s threatened right now.”
Bruns Realty Group did not respond to requests for comment for this story.
Reach Ashley Onyon at [email protected] or @AshleyOnyon on Twitter.