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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 30, 2010

Owner promises
New pipe shop near UAlbany won’t sell drugs or paraphernalia

By Jo E. Prout

GUILDERLAND — Tobacco store owner Todd Hartman reviewed his site plan for a new Guilderland shop with the planning board here last week, but McKownville residents expressed concern about the store’s future clientele.

Hartman said that the new shop will be his fourth store, with two in Syracuse and one in Ithaca. After this store is set up, he said, he hopes to increase his business with two more stores in Buffalo.

The shop, called Exscape, will be the only retail space in the 1204 Western Ave. building that houses apartments on the second floor.

“We’ll keep it clean and presentable,” Hartman said. Previously, the space was used for tax preparation services, the board said. Hartman said that the size of the sign has been grandfathered in, and that he plans no structural changes.

McKownville Improvement Association President Don Reeb, the sole audience member, questioned the board and Hartman on behalf of nearby residents who, he said, worried about the shop’s proximity to University at Albany’s students.

“Is this an upscale cigar store, or is this a place to buy bongs?” Reeb said. “That’s too forceful a question, but I want to make it clear why I’m standing here tonight.”

Exscape will offer pipes and accessories, Hartman said.

“I don’t do drugs, and I don’t sell drugs. No drugs will exist in that location, legal or illegal,” Hartman said.

Planning board Chairman Stephen Feeney said that, if Hartman’s plan meets the town’s conditions, the shop is allowed according to town codes.

Board member Michael Cleary said that a competing tobacco shop is in business in McKownville in Stuyvesant Plaza.

“We sell a lot of different accessories that he doesn’t sell,” Hartman said.

Board members asked Hartman why he chose 1204 Western Ave. for the shop.

“It was a good, high-traffic area,” he said. The shop will be near the university and the city of Albany limits.

“It will be a very clean place,” he said.

Hartman told The Enterprise that he hopes to open this year, as soon as he receives all board approvals from the town.

Other business

In other business, the planning board:

— Heard a review of a revised concept plan for housing development Mill Hill’s second and third phases. John Michaels, of The Michael’s Group in the Capital Region, said that the planned unit development has been reduced in scope from 202 units in 2003 to 74 senior townhouse units now. Previous plans called for outdoor parking and bedrooms upstairs. Now, the plans have de-emphasized driveways, and have attached garages, and master bedrooms downstairs. The larger designs reduced the plan’s density, Michaels said;

— Interrupted its meeting when two police officers asked if everyone at the meeting were all right. One officer said that a 911 call had come from within Town Hall.

“There was no emergency,” Captain Curtis Cox of the Guilderland Police Department told The Enterprise. “It could have been someone trying to get an outside phone line. We wouldn’t know where it was in the building. All our phones are automated, except for one used by prisoners. Like in other large businesses, calls go to a central bank of phones.”

The officers who checked during the planning board meeting investigated to see if someone were in distress, Cox said.

“We found that there wasn’t,” Cox said; and

— Approved a concept presentation of a four-lot subdivision of 27 acres on West Old State Road.

Feeney asked land surveyor Mark Blackstone if any potential buyers would preserve the farm area at the property’s rear, keeping three nice-sized parcels at the front.

“People want, even if land is unusable, people are drawn to the lure of acreage,” Blackstone said.

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