Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Stewart's Shops Elsewhere

Trying to convince municipalities to change their zoning to accommodate the company's plans for expansion seems to be the modus operandi for Stewart's Shops. A reader clued Gossips in to a similar experience with Stewart's in the Village of Altamont a couple of years ago--similar in that it involved changing local zoning and demolishing a residential property. Inspired by this tip, Gossips tracked the story in The Altamont Enterprise. The articles referenced below are all from that publication

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
There was a little wrinkle in the Altamont situation that is not the case here in Hudson. From 2007 to 2008, the Village of Altamont had done a comprehensive zoning review. Prior to the zoning changes, enacted in 2009, the house to be demolished, shown at the right in the photo above, was in a commercial district, and the owner of the house, who maintained it as a two-family rental property, disclosed that he had purchased the house with the expectation that he could someday sell it to Stewart's.    

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
In the Enterprise article, Marshall goes on to say, "We're doing a lot of investment. . . . We hope someday to redevelop the property in Altamont." Marshall continued to hope despite the fact that the request to change zoning had been denied.

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."


  1. Great espionage work Carole. So Stewart’s won’t take NO for an answer! What a sneaky strategy Stewart’s embraces! They really should pack up their tent and go to commercial zone free Greenport.

  2. Good Morning on this challenging weather day. So today it's snow; for almost two solid weeks, it was brutally cold temperatures. If you're someone with a car, that one more mile, as off handedly mentioned in the previous post by someone with a car, turns into two miles. Try juggling that with groceries and then add either young children or a Senior Citizen. It is so (offensively) easy to tell other to just walk another mile in all types of challenging weather. Frankly, to me, it reads like an acceptable and printable form of a short, personal expletive.

    So should Stewart's successfully be shuttered, where will those who walk there for dairy and bread products and water and juice products - staples, go? And are posters here willing to be good neighbors and drive them to the new, preferred destination?

    (And FYI, yes I know Stewart's sells products other than dairy and bread products.)

    Finally, my wish was always to be a back-up dancer to Tina Turner. Didn't happen. Life has gone on.

    Susan Lynn Troy

    1. Susan--Just so you know, the decision the City is being asked to make it NOT whether there will be a Stewart's on that corner or not. As was the case in Altamont, Chuck Marshall has stated that Stewart's has no intention to leave that site. The choice is do we allow Stewart's to dictate our zoning and eliminate six rental units so the company can build a bigger store at that location.