netZero Village Proposed in Rotterdam

Rotterdam could be the first town in the state to have a green-minded apartment complex that produces as much or more energy than its tenants consume.

David Bruns of the Bruns Realty Group is proposing to construct a 10-building, 156-unit apartment complex on 17 acres off Burdeck Street, provided the site gets a zone change. The entire development — from its super-insulated buildings to its drought-resistant landscaping — is designed to be eco-friendly, he states.

The primary feature of the complex will be its ability to produce as much energy as tenants consume. Bruns said the buildings will still be attached to the grid, but will produce their own energy and at times, sell some of it back.

“Most of that energy will be produced through renewable sources,” he said. “There’s really nothing else like it around here.”

Among other amenities, the design is to include a rainwater capture system that tenants will use for laundry, toilet water and irrigation. Passive solar design, high-efficiency fixtures and geothermal heat will help keep the buildings from requiring much energy to operate.

Prospective tenants will have utilities included in the cost of their rent. Bruns hopes to market the apartments to the environmentally conscious, perhaps to workers from General Electric’s Renewable Energy headquarters in nearby Schenectady.

“It’s kind of a dream project for me,” he said. “It’s something I’ve thought about for a long time.”

The project would also bring a property valued at $1.1 million back onto the tax rolls. The land is now owned by the Tennessee-based Mid-America Student Housing, a group affiliated with the tax-exempt Northeast Branch of the Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary.

The land was originally zoned for commercial use and a shopping mall was slated there in 1998. But the project never came to fruition after receiving a cool reception from residents and the land was later sold to the Baptists, who were hoping to construct dormitory housing for a seminary. The project included 112 dormitory units and the conversion of 24 existing units from the adjacent Carefree Village apartment complex.

The new seminary was aimed at replacing a facility on Curry Road.

But the seminary project never got under way. One stumbling block was a massive septic system that was proposed for the project at a cost of nearly a half-million dollars.

Town officials and the Baptists were hoping the septic system would be a temporary fix. Both were banking on a sewer line to be constructed along nearby Route 7.

A privately funded project to build a sewer line to the Princetown border was mulled several years ago. But the abrupt downturn in the economy cooled interest in building the line.

The land remains zoned for retail business and must be changed to multifamily residential to accommodate the apartments. Members of the Town Board referred the matter to the Planning Commission for a recommendation last month and could address the zone change as early as August.