If members of the Schenectady City Council want to give some thought to the proposed amendments to the C-3 Waterfront zoning district, rather than slamming down that big City Hall rubber stamp, I hope they’ll look at the photo collage below, which should, among other things help to:
- debunk the notion that the old ALCO plant buildings were all so tall they blocked out the view of the River, so it would be okay to allow 110′ buildings throughout the casino compound
- demonstrate how excessive a 90-foot pylon sign would be, and that the casino does not need a monster pylon because it will be hidden behind the STS building, and no one will be able to find it
- remind the Council that the renderings of the Applicant’s casino hotel and gaming facility were highly misleading, making them look far smaller than the buildings the Casino now wants to build
- show just how small a 40-foot setback from the riverbank would be
- motivate them to find out if the Golub/Price Chopper Headquarters is 103′ tall, as Mr. Buiko keeps saying, or 86′ tall, as we were told when we asked the Golub front office. And, more important, show how, at well under 110′, the Golub Building looms over the landscape in a way fine for Maxon Rd. but not for the riverbank, whether seen in an aerial shot or from street level
- Click on the collage for a larger version
Please phone, write, or email the City Council and Mayor to ask them to look closely at the proposed C-3 zoning amendments before handing to Mohawk Harbor and the Casino a license to turn the waterfront district into a gaudy, crowded little Las Vegas.
We need some serious “homework” by City Council members, not a rubber stamping of provisions that are too generous to the Casino Gang at the expense of good zoning and planning principles. The following is a Comment left at the Gazette today (Jan. 27, 2015) in response to its article about the public hearing on January 26th, noting some of the important unanswered questions:
It was discouraging to watch supporters proclaim the urgent need for C-3 waterfront zoning so that the casino could exist in Schenectady. C-3 Waterfront zoning already exists and nothing in it prevents the casino from operating successfully. The issue is whether the proposed amendments to C-3, which have provisions far more lax and generous than are imposed on businesses in every other zoning district, are appropriate and best serve Schenectady’s residents and future. And, especially important is whether the Council should be rushed to pass these extreme changes, on novel issues with which it has no experience, before requiring more information on just what the casino plans to do on the site? Specific questions include:
Should Schenectady’s signage ordinance, Article IX of the zoning law, be made inapplicable to the casino and its accessory uses? Should the casino be allowed to have 19,000 square feet of signage, when shopping centers in Schenectady only get 150 sq. ft. plus one sq. foot for each foot of storefront, and the casino told Metroplex it would use a maximum of 15,000 sq. ft.? Should the current 7′ limit on freestanding signs be changed to 90′ for the casino (when the Parker Inn is only 99 feet tall), and the casino’s justification is that people won’t be able to find it otherwise?
Should the Casino be allowed to put up 110′ buildings (with no special permit required), when the C-3 district was created to preserve riverside views and control growth? And, when the casino has constantly circulated renderings that show a hotel of about 65 feet along the riverbank and a gaming facility much shorter than the hotel? [it has been spreading the false excuse that the old ALCO site had 130′ structures that blocked all views of the river, rather than the typical long 50′ structures that actually existed at the site.]
Should the current guarantee of a permanent right to public access to the riverfront, and of a portion of the dock space reserved for the public, be totally deleted from the C-3 zoning ordinance, leaving public access into the future up to the owner, which has repeated constantly lately that “this is private property” when riverfront access is mentioned?
Should we give a lot of weight to the recent approval of the C-3 amendments by the Planning Commission, when the commissioners where not given even one page of materials explaining the amendments and the reasons they were selected; when the commissioners admitted they were not experienced with issues and facts related to casino zoning; and when the people who gave the Commission point by point explanations and justifications for the proposed amendments were not the City’s Development and Legal staff, but were Mr. Buicko from Galesi Group and a lawyer and consultant of Rush Street Gaming?
Let’s stop, research and think. For more discussion of the issues raised by the proposed amendments to the C-3 zoning ordinance, go to http://tinyurl.com/CasinoZoning, and for an extensive list of questions that should be answered before a vote is taken on the C-3 Amendments, and a description of the inadequate consideration given by the Planning Commission to the Amendments, see: “Schenectady’s waterfront zoning: a rubber-stamp in a company town?“.