Monday, April 16, 2018

Stewart's Shops Elsewhere, Part 2

Last week, a frequent commenter on Gossips groused: "A couple of years ago, Altamont visited some identical issues regarding a Stewart's expansion plan. It's a wonder that no one is comparing the two stories, but then Hudson has always lived in a bubble." I had to remind the commenter that Gossips had done a post about Stewart's in Altamont back in January.

Google Image
To recap the Altamont story, Stewart's wanted the village to amend its zoning to enable Stewart's to expand its operation. The expansion involved the acquisition and demolition of an adjacent house. In October 2015, Altamont denied Stewart's request for a zoning change, thus making the expansion impossible. A year later, in September 2016, Stewart's went ahead and bought the house in question, and it was reported that permits were being sought to demolish it. Chuck Marshall, however, denied that, saying there was a new plan to upgrade the existing Stewart's that did not involve demolishing the house.

Michael Koff|Altamont Enterprise
The comment reminded me that there was another Stewart's story I wanted to share, and this seemed as good a time as any. The story involves Stewart's desire to establish a new gas station and convenience store in Voorheesville. Again my source is The Altamont Enterprise. The situation in Voorheesville is different, but once again it involves Stewart's wanting to do something that the community wasn't ready to embrace.

In the spring of 2016, Stewart's bought Smith's Tavern, an iconic pizzeria in the heart of Voorheesville, much to the dismay of many residents.

Melissa Hale-Spencer|Altamont Enterprise
The plan was to demolish the building construct in its stead a convenience store and gas station.

The site is next door to another gas station and across the street from Voorheesville Elementary School, and it backs up on Vly Creek. On June 13, 2017, the village planning commission, concerned about pedestrian safety as well as flooding and erosion, requested an "in-depth environmental review" of the project. Stewart's Shops threatened to sueclaiming that "the request for in-depth review is unlawful and merely a delaying tactic." Marshall complained to the Altamont Enterprise that, "of the over 300 shops operated by Stewart's, . . . no other municipality had required an in-depth environmental review."

Two weeks later, on June 27, 2017, the Village Board, by a vote of 4 to 1, adopted a moratorium on development, "to allow a village-appointed committee to complete its work on Voorheesville's first comprehensive land-use plan." Because of the moratorium, Stewart's Shops decided not to proceed with the threatened lawsuit. Marshall is quoted in the Altamont Enterprise as saying, "A building permit wouldn't be issued regardless of the outcome of a suit. Like everyone else, we will sit and wait."

The moratorium was to last for six months and could be extended by two additional six-month periods. On November 28, 2017, the Village Board voted to extend the moratorium for the first six-month period, from December 27, 2017, until June 27, 2018.


  1. Stewart's is becoming a monster. I don't think they should force their stores and expansions down a community's throat by destroying what has been there for much longer. They should fit in to a community, not deface it. Their stores are not charming or beautiful. Although convenient, they are not a draw.

  2. Hudson's Stewart's has "fit in" Hudson for forty-five years. Stewart's has not, and is not, what is defacing Hudson.

    And while Stewart's may not be a draw for you, it certainly is for many, many others who require neither charm nor beauty, to run in at 9PM for Tylenol or milk, or gas.

    And beauty (and dare I say charm) is in the eye of the beholder.

    By the way, have you spoken to those property owners willing to sell their homes to Stewart's? Perhaps they are open to other offers, and perhaps you'd like to make one. In which case, once you purchase one or both of them, you could make those properties, which I find perfectly acceptable, perhaps more charming and beautiful.


  3. There are so many other stories of municipalities encouraged by the investment of a local company, customers who stopped in for milk on a snowy night or travelers getting coffee during a trip through the parts unknown.

    Stewart’s never submitted a demolition permit request in Altamont and the house still stands today. Stewarts did complete the interior remodel of store.

    I completely understand the correlation to Altamont but think Voorheesville is an attempt to paint Stewart’s in a negative light without justification. Here, the municipality changed the rules mid-game after Stewart’s pursuit of a completely lawful use.

    Frankly, I’m surprised that Carole (who I’ve admitted to personally in being a fan of her writing) didn’t dive into the application which remains on the Village’s website showing Stewarts satisfying each of the designated engineers comments regarding our development.

    Zoning is supposed to protect the land owner, developer and the municipality. It is an outward representation of what the municiaplity would like to see in certain parts of its community. In many instances (like Hudson) there’s an ability for individuals to amend the code via petition of the legislative body. Stewart’s application in Hudson is completely lawful and if successful we’ll be required to satisfy Site Plan review by the Planning Board. If we’re unsuccessful we’ll operate for a short period and likely sell the business to an owner who will run it in its current fashion not fixing the problems that plague that corner.

    Chuck Marshall
    Stewart’s Shops

  4. I've been on this corner longer than stewart's, what problems plague? It is a busy intersection, the kind stewart's wants to be on, is that a problem? Has HPD stated we have a problem? DPW?