We have a jewel of a community in a growing sea of sprawl

To the Editor:

I am writing to express my opposition to the planned expansion of Stewart’s in the village. I believe that Stewart’s is a good neighbor and has always been there for us with small community donations, great milkshakes, well-priced gas, and lottery tickets. Though the exterior of the current store could use updating, I also believe that the current configuration serves our village needs well.

Though I appreciate the nice people who work there and the convenience of having Stewart’s in our midst, I don’t believe that the expansion plans will serve the village long-term. Altamont is a special place. The village is an unusually cohesive community that is built on a core of 19th- and early 20th- century homes and businesses. These buildings are generally well maintained and provide a walkable community, great neighbors, with varied streetscape.

It’s unfortunate that Stewart’s inhabits an awkward corner with five intersecting streets. Expanding up Helderberg Avenue will not change that. Entering and leaving that intersection will continue to require defensive driving skills.

Erecting eight light poles and paving a larger swath of downtown will have a devastating effect on the quality of life for those around. The same number of people will drive across that intersection whether Stewart’s upgrades or not.

I have never had a hard time finding parking at Stewart’s when I needed to run in for milk or eggs, so I personally don’t see the need to cut down trees and demolish a vintage home for more parking.

Altamont adopted a comprehensive plan to guide development decisions and I urge the planning committee and village board to avoid the kind of spot zoning changes that are becoming all too common in Guilderland.

We have a jewel of a community in a growing sea of sprawl. Let’s protect what we have, support our local businesses, and think critically about zoning changes that go against the comprehensive plan.

Note: Though I technically live outside the village, I have invested heavily in restoring my historic home. I contribute actively in the civic life of Altamont and pay taxes through my water bills. I chose to move here because of the cohesive, historic character of the village and hope that you will think carefully about decisions that cannot be undone.

Laura Shore


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