Stewart’s finally gets green light for new Altamont shop

— From Stewart’s Shops

After making various changes to its proposal over the past three months, Stewart’s Shops received approval from the Altamont Planning Board this week to begin construction on a new store at its Altamont Boulevard location. 

ALTAMONT — The Altamont Planning Board on Monday voted unanimously to approve Stewart’s Shops’ application for a special-use permit and site-plan review, laying to rest five years of on-again, off-again tumult in the village. 

At a special meeting on June 8, the board had arrived at a consensus that the company had satisfied the village’s code-required conditions but took no formal action, instead deciding to first have the planning board attorney draft a decision document.

Stewart’s will now replace its current 2,700-square-foot store on Altamont Boulevard with a 3,340-square-foot shop.

Work on Helderberg Avenue will start Monday, Chuck Marshall, a real-estate representative for Stewart’s, told The Enterprise, with the home at 107-109 Helderberg Ave. having to first go through an asbestos-abatement process before it can be torn down — the building has to be abated before a demolition permit can be issued by the village  

Marshall understands that the project has had a polarizing effect on some people in the village, but said there’s a majority of people who were silent and happy with the proposal.  “We’ve been there for 40 years,” Marshall said of the current Altamont shop, “and I just think it’s time to make sure we make an investment to last another 40.”

If all of the permitting goes smoothly — Marshall previously said he would simultaneously submit a building permit application along with one for demolition — foundation work on the new shop could begin sometime in mid- to late July. Construction is anticipated to take 14 weeks. 

Stewart’s first attempt to build a new shop came in 2015, but that failed after the village board, in a 2-to-2 vote, did not approve the zoning change the company needed for an expansion. 

The company was again before the village board in November 2018 seeking to rezone the property it bought at 107-109 Helderberg Ave. from residential to commercial, which it did a month later.

In April 2019, a small group of Altamont residents sued the village board of trustees as well as Stewart’s Shops, seeking to overturn the zoning change.

The lawsuit began to fall apart in August 2019, when the board of trustees successfully argued that the Concerned Severson Neighbors had failed to show that the rezone was illegal. 

By November 2019, the remainder of the lawsuit was rendered moot when the village board voted for a second time to rezone 107-109 Helderberg Ave. from residential to commercial, rescinding the subject of the April 2019 suit and paving the way for a new shop at Stewart’s Altamont Boulevard location.

The Altamont Zoning Board of Appeals in March approved three variances the company needed for the project to move forward to the planning board. 

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