Planners concerned with size and siting of Stewart’s proposal

— From Stewart’s Shops

Back to the drawing board: The Altamont Planning Board this week told Stewart’s that its plan for a new store, as currently presented, does not meet the village’s zoning code. 

ALTAMONT — The village planning board at its monthly meeting offered its initial input on the new store Stewart’s Shops is proposing to build on properties it owns at the corner of Helderberg Avenue and Altamont Boulevard.

On Dec. 12, 2018, the Altamont Village Board voted, 3 to 2, to rezone 107-109 Helderberg Ave. from residential to commercial, paving the way for Stewart’s to build a new shop on the site.

At the pre-application meeting on Monday, Jan. 28, Stewart’s proposed a new 3,719-square-foot shop to take the place of the current 2,598-square-foot store at 1001 Altamont Blvd. The new store, which would be half-again as big as the current store, would continue to have two pumps — four fuel nozzles — but diesel would be added to one nozzle.  

The size and siting of the proposed building were among the chief issues for the planning board.

“The location of this building does not fit the criteria of [the zoning],” Tim Wilford, the board’s chairman, told Chuck Marshall, who works in land development for Stewart’s. The rear of the building, Wilford said to Marshall, needs to be setback 50 feet from the adjacent residential property (the plan shows a 13-foot setback). The two parcels also have to be combined, Wilford said.  

Marshall had two options, Wilford said.

He could take his plan, as is, to the zoning board and make a case for why he needs a variance to build the new shop closer than current zoning allows, or Marshall could take the planning board’s feedback (pushing the proposed building further away from the adjacent residential property) and come up with a new site plan that conforms to the current zoning.

Lighting and landscaping were also areas of concern that the board asked Marshall to look at again.    

“How big was the one you put out on routes 20 and 146?” Wilford asked Marshall later in the meeting about the Stewart’s Shop six miles away in Guilderland.

Marshall answered that the store at routes 20 and 145 is 3,384 square feet.

“And you want to propose another 400 square feet in a tiny little village,” Wilford said. “I mean, you’ve heard the public obstacles; I’ve heard them. It’s been years; none of this is new.”

Wilford also told the two dozen residents in the gallery on Monday night that, when submitting public comment, it was not OK to show up at the homes of board members, or call and email them. If a resident has a comment, he or she can submit it to the village by mail, email, in-person at village hall, or during a scheduled public hearing.   

In his opinion, Wilford concluded, Stewart’s current proposal is for too big of a building and he has concerns about the setbacks.

“That’s the process,” Marshall told The Enterprise in a follow-up interview. “We develop a plan; then we submit it, then you get feedback at the meeting … Obviously, with any type of development, we work toward compromise and, if we can’t reach it, then we’d see if we can attack it in a different way.”

Asked if he had anticipated re-presenting the project at the February planning board meeting, Marshall said in an email, “In an ideal world we would be in as soon as possible. That said if we don’t make the February meeting we’re very likely to make March.”

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