The plan, which was presented to the village board in April 2015, involved Stewart's purchasing and demolishing a residential property next door to the Stewart's location and changing the zoning for that lot from residential to central business district so that Stewart's could expand its gas station and convenience store: "Stewart's needs zoning change for expansion plans." The village attorney advised the board that it could refuse to consider the request without giving a reason, but the mayor of the village insisted that the board carefully review the proposal, "as we're required under the law to do."
|Photo: The Enterprise|Michael Koff|
Even before the village board held a public hearing, neighborhood residents were expressing their opinions about the proposal, and none was favorable: "Altamont starts examining zoning for Stewart's expansion." Their concerns were similar to those expressed by Hudson residents when the Common Council Economic Development Committee held its information session last summer on Stewart's request for rezoning: visual impact on residential neighborhood, loss of rental housing, increased traffic and consequent safety concerns, the bad precedent of such a zoning change. There were scores of letters to the editor. One that appeared in the Enterprise in August 2015 evokes the irony of Stewart's current proposal to create in Hudson a new walkable commercial district with a gas station as its centerpiece: ''Stewart's is the village's only business not friendly to pedestrians." In the letter, the writer confesses--as many in Hudson have as well--that although he lives within walking distance of the Stewart's he always drives there, as does everyone else, "because the fastest way to become a mother of three is for a mother of four to walk her family to Stewart's for ice cream."
In September 2015, the Enterprise reported that village residents came out in force to speak against the proposal at a board meeting: "Village board waits for answers from Stewart's." Chief among the questions the board had for Stewart's was why it was necessary to demolish the adjacent house.
In October 2015, the village board denied Stewart's the sought-after zoning change: "Stewart's expansion bid fails." After that decision, the Enterprise reported that Stewart's would do a "standard upgrade" to to the store in Altamont--new flooring, new lights, new counters, and an updated bathroom: "Stewart's upgrades in Altamont, submits plans to build in Voorheesville." Chuck Marshall, familiar to those of us following the Stewart's issue here in Hudson, is quoted in the article as saying that Stewart's in Altamont is an "older 2,400-square-foot model" with brick walls and a mansard roof--just like the building here in Hudson. Marshall commented, "We no longer build that building."
|Stewart's in Altamont|Google|
|Stewart's in Hudson|Google|
A year later, in September 2016, the Enterprise reported that Stewart's had purchased the adjacent house and were pursuing permits to the demolish it: "Stewart's buys house next to Altamont store." At the end of this article, it is reported that Marshall said "the company believes the location it has is the best in the village." He is also quoted as saying, "When property changes hands the ability to do something can change. . . . We're a long-term thinking company." Of the review process in Altamont, he commented, "That was the longest year of my life. It took them about a year to say no."
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