Kay’s Route 85A project receives another approval

— From The Grove at Maple Point, LLC

The Grove at Maple Point, a two-building development near the intersection of routes 85 and 85A, recently received approval from the New Scotland Planning Board to begin construction on the foundation for the second building, which is proposed to be a daycare center. 

NEW SCOTLAND — After increasing the size of the first building in his development without planning permission, Ron Kay was recently given the go-ahead to install the foundation of the second building. 

On Dec. 6, the planning board approved Kay’s plan to install the foundation for a 8,250-square-foot building, which is 250 square feet larger than what was initially OK’d.

In 2021, four years after getting the initial go-ahead, the long-stalled project finally got off the ground, only to be issued a stop-work order this past summer after measurements taken by Building Inspector Jeremy Cramer showed the first of two buildings  — a 10,000-square-foot space for retail — proposed by Kay was 665 square feet larger than what was shown on the plans. 

Chairman Jeffrey Baker said during the planning board’s August meeting that the building had never received an approval in the first place, subjecting it to “an after-the-fact approval” at the board’s September meeting. 

In the intervening months, when the project has come back before the board, there has been a heavy emphasis on technical details like site grading and stormwater management practices.


Traffic issues

The planning board has also been trying to figure out how to deal with traffic and tenancy issues at The Grove at Maple Point, near the intersection of routes 85 and 85A. 

A daycare center is the proposed tenant for the second building. 

The daycare, with 14 full-time employees, would accommodate as many as 66 children from ages 6 weeks to pre-kindergarten, from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. with expected drop-off times between 7 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. and expected pick-ups between 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. 

But the facility is not laid out like a traditional school, so pick-up and drop-off won’t be a seamless experience, according to the town’s engineer and traffic consultant.

“According to the applicant, processes for dropping off children at this daycare will be completed by parking the vehicle and walking the children into the daycare building,” write Garrett Frueh and Dan Quiri in a response to a traffic analysis furnished by the applicant. “Considering this arrangement, a drop-off layout is not appropriate as might be for drop off of elementary age children at a school, where the parent simply stops and the child exits the vehicle on their own.”

Frueh and Quiri write that a dead end in front of Building Two, heading toward Fred the Butcher next door, “may cause conflicting traffic movements.”

For example, they write, “if all of the spaces are full,” a vehicle may need to make a “3-point turn at the end of the parking lot as vehicles are backing out and new vehicles are pulling in during the peak drop-off and pick-up times.” 

Options to remedy the issues offered by Frueh and Quiri included shifting the entire building to allow for a road to go around  it, moving the building forward to accommodate more parking in the rear, or striking deal with the owners of Fred the Butcher so The Grove at Maple Point can connect to that parcel and driveway.

During the Dec. 6 meeting, questions were also raised about who or what else would be moving into Building Two as a tenant because, at the Nov. 1 meeting, neither the board, nor the town staff in attendance thought project partner and architect Dan Sanders’s idea of an eatery was acceptable, given the site constraints and change in use.

“You have a problem,” Baker told Sanders in early November. “You are changing the nature of what your uses are to a much heavier traffic use. It is not necessarily heavy traffic during the day, but on either end there will be.”

Sanders took issue with having to rearrange something that the thought didn’t need rearranging. 

“This project was approved in 2017, as designed,” Sanders said. “With the parking lot as designed. There was no turn-around; there was no issue in terms of the parking-lot design.”

He said his concern was, “We are going back and we are re-examining something that was approved … I don’t mean to be rude about it, but to talk about this becoming a bottleneck because some cars are parked here, this never came up before.”

That’s when planning board attorney Crystal Peck interjected, “It is not just a matter of tenancy, you are changing the use in one of the buildings, which has a concern regarding traffic-flow patterns on this site.

“That is why we are having this discussion and, if the town’s engineer has concerns about that, that’s something that has to be reviewed and considered by the board and possibly a change to the layout of this.”

Cramer had to remind all those in attendance that the daycare proposal wasn’t actually allowed.  “Now let me back everybody up a little,” Cramer said on Nov. 1. “This site is approved for retail use only. Not eateries, not daycare centers, none of those. It’s not approved as a general commercial building.”

At its December meeting, the board approved a site plan to allow the daycare center to take up approximately 68 percent of Building Two.


Town board meeting

At the Dec. 14 meeting of the New Scotland Town Board, Kay’s project was a topic of discussion as well.

“I noticed a few articles that sort of bothered me,” said resident Kevin Lamica to the board, referring to earlier Kay-related articles in The Enterprise about flooding at Stonewell Plaza and a stop-work order placed on Kay’s project. 

“As a resident, I was sort of upset with it,” Lamica said. “I mean, I just didn’t see how, you know, we’ve worked real hard ... to try to get something into the town, and … to me it was sort of a stain.”

Supervisor Douglas LaGrange told Lamica that many of the earlier issues had been addressed either through the planning board or code enforcement. 

“I’ll speak for myself, primarily, but you know, we and the planning board were very disappointed that happened,” LaGrange said to Lamica. 

LaGrange said all Kay did was put himself under a microscope. 

“So it’s just put them under a lot more scrutiny with the rest of the project, and future projects,” he said. “Because the same, well, it’s not the same company, but the same players to an extent, bought the 20 acres behind that. So you know, when you do things like that, you just draw more scrutiny in the future.”

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