Site of closed Passonno Paints may become medical office

GUILDERLAND — Passonno Paints at 1438 Western Ave. in McKownville, at the southwest corner of the intersection with McKown Road, has closed and may be demolished so a medical office can be built on the site.

Developer Ryan Jankow, who also owns nearby City Line bar, has a tenant interested in offering medical and possibly also dental services in a proposed 3,600-square-foot building, he and engineer Daniel Hershberg of Hershberg & Hershberg told the planning board on June 12 and the zoning board a week later.

That tenant runs urgent-care facilities in other municipalities, Hershberg said, but is not associated with any hospital. He declined to name the tenant.

Jankow is seeking a site-plan review for a special-use permit and variances on two sides for the building or parking spaces to extend into the required setback of 25 feet. 

The proposed building would be 200 square feet smaller than the existing paint store. Green space on the property would be reduced from 69 percent to 59 percent, Hershberg told the planning board, which is still above the 30 percent required in the local-business zoning district.

The business would be open Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., the engineer said, and would allow drop-ins without appointments. 

The town is in the process of installing stormwater lines throughout McKownville, and construction is currently underway on McKown Road. The contractor doing the work is using the property as its construction staging area.

All access for the medical building would be from driveways on McKown Road. 

The parcel is long and narrow, said Hershberg, necessitating the variance requests on the west and east sides. An empty piece of land behind the former paint store, not part of the current project, will be covered with topsoil and seeded, Hershberg said.

Planning board member Mickey Cleary asked Hershberg if Jankow might want to dedicate empty land to the town as open space. Hershberg responded, he did not think that the developer would like to, since it is “valuable real estate.” 

“It would make a nice little park area,” Cleary said. 

Cleary tried to clarify if there would ever be any development in that empty parcel. Hershberg said, “Nothing’s going to go there now. Forever is a long time. But our goal would be to leave that green and keep the 59 percent green.” 

Donald Reeb of Norwood Street told the board he didn’t think a variance was warranted when the developer has “more than enough space” to make the building into a different configuration incorporating the empty parcel behind the store. “There’s no reason to ask for a variance if you’ve got enough space on your property to redesign the building so that it fits into the space without a variance,” Reeb said. 

Hershberg said that, if the full setbacks were observed, the building could be only about 38 feet wide. He said he and the developer want to have offices on either side of a central core of the building, and that a 38-foot-wide building would not lend itself to that design. “It creates a practical difficulty, which is our claim with our variance request,” Hershberg said. 


Farmstand future unknown

A farmstand, where produce from the Barber farm in Middleburgh is sold, has been held in the empty parcel behind Passonno Paints for many years. The farmstand’s fate is currently up in the air, the planning board heard.

Board members and Hershberg discussed the idea that, because of the town’s ongoing stormwater construction throughout McKownville including on McKown Road, the farmstand might not be able to go there this year. 

Laura Barry of Waverly Place asked if the farmstand might be able to operate in the empty parcel next year and into the future, and also whether, this year, it might use the front area of the parcel near Western Avenue. “We’re struggling to find a place for it,” she said, referring to the McKownville Improvement Association. 

The association originally helped arrange to bring the farmstand to McKownville, former longtime president Reeb told The Enterprise. 

Jankow told the planning board that he would ask the tenant about the farmer’s market, and that it would be the tenant’s decision.


Closed after 38 years

Passonno Paints still has two stores, in Watervliet and Amsterdam. Owner Richard Cunningham told The Enterprise this week that the Western Avenue location, which had been in operation since 1980, closed in December 2018.

“Guilderland was an expensive store,” he said. The family-owned company has since begun to concentrate primarily on commercial business — selling paint to factories and contractors. 

“Retail is just not doing well,” he said. “Young people shop at Home Depot and Lowe’s.” 

Another difficulty, Cunningham said, is that New York State has passed a lot of laws that restrict the volatile organic content that manufacturers can use in paint — such as, for instance, antifreeze during the long winter months. 

Cunningham told The Enterprise that he and his family were glad to have the farmstand on their property each year during the summer months, and that, if they still own the property when the stand is ready to open this summer, it will be allowed to operate on the land. The farmstand usually opens in mid-July. 

The owners of Barber’s Farm could not be reached by press time. 



The planning board recommended, with a few conditions that the developer:

— Eliminate two parking spaces along the western side of proposed building to increase the driveway throat at the entrance on McKown Road;

— Provide additional street plantings along Western Avenue and McKown Road;

— Provide additional landscape screening along the western side of the parking lot;

— Provide building elevation, rendering, and building construction material details; and

— Provide details on a Dumpster enclosure. 

At the Zoning Board meeting on June 19, Hershberg said the applicant had already fulfilled all of those conditions except creating a final building rendering. 

Zoning Chairman Thomas Remmert suggested that the developer expand his request for operating hours from six days a week to seven, “to eliminate the need to come back for an expansion,” and to open earlier, as other urgent-care facilities do; Remmert suggested changing the request to seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. 

The lights in the parking lot will go off half an hour after the facility closes each night, Hershberg said. 

Laura Barry also spoke at the zoning board meeting, asking why the variance was needed, when Hershberg could simply design a more unique building that would fit the lot.

Remmert said that, with variance requests, it’s necessary to consider whether the variance is “substantial.” In his opinion, Remmert said, this variance request is not substantial. 

“If we had to make it 38 feet wide, we don’t think the current tenant would go there, number one,” Hershberg said. “The modalities of building medical office buildings have certain dimensions. If you have everybody stretched out, a long corridor makes it much less efficient to run … Most of their models are 60 feet wide. We made it 50 feet wide, so we could at least honor the rear setback line.”


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