Thursday, April 11, 2019

Stewart's: Public Hearing Ends

Matthew Frederick's thirteen improvements to the proposed Stewart's expansion have come to define the standard the Planning Board would like Stewart's to meet. At one point on Tuesday night, late in the discussion which took up the first hour of the three and a half hour Planning Board meeting, board member Betsy Gramkow asked the engineer from Stewart's who was standing in for Chuck Marshall if there was anything in Frederick's plan that was an absolute no. Frederick's thirteen suggestions are an effective way to organize what we now know about the Stewart's plan.

  1. Frederick's recommendation was for full-sized street trees (his drawing shows eight), ground cover, and hedges. The Stewart's landscaping plan involves four trees and flower beds against the building and at the corner. Stewart's did agree to plant one more tree and to investigate the possibility of using perennial ground cover instead of flowering plants.
  2. Responding to the recommendation that they use tinted concrete to reduce glare, the Stewart's spokesman said they never used tinted concrete. It seems, however that most of the surface is meant to be asphalt not concrete.
  3. The canopy over the pumps will be 14½ feet. The Stewart's spokesman denied that it was ever to be 16 feet high.
  4. Bollard lighting is one of the things that was an "absolute no," because "bollards get hit."
  5. The material for the retaining wall remains Versa-Lok, with plantings only on one side--the side facing the adjacent property on Green Street not the Stewart's parking lot and Fairview Avenue.
  6. Stewart's readily agreed to install a cedar fence on top of the retaining wall instead of the white vinyl fence they had proposed.
  7. Stewart's stated they would plant twenty-four arborvitae "on the neighbor's side of the fence." To this statement, Frederick responded, "Well, then we need more."
  8. The Stewart's spokesman said they would consider planting hedges and ground cover around the building instead of the flowers they were planning.
  9. A true second story was also an "absolute no." The opening in the parapet. which exposes the mechanicals on the roof, will face the delivery area.
  10. It is not clear what the signage and branding on the building will be
  11. Stewart's has added three picnic tables and two park benches but maintains that the interior layout of the store will not accommodate a walk-up ice cream window. Planning Board members Gramkow and Clark Wieman were not taking no for an answer and asked for further explanation of why an ice cream window would not be possible.
  12. A bike rack has been added to the plan.
  13. There was no discussion of widening the sidewalks.
Frederick criticized Stewart's for only providing only engineer's plans to show what they are proposing. The plan below, which was presented more than a year ago, is an example of the drawings presented by Stewart's, from which the Planning Board must imagine what the completed project will look like. Board member Ginna Moore asked Stewart's to produce "something other than engineering drawings," renderings of what is proposed that were more like those Frederick had created.          

Concern remained that the proposed site was "more oriented to people gassing up than to people living in the area." Kurt Wehmann, who lives on Fairview Avenue, expressed the opinion that what is proposed was "still not a very neighborly approach to a business with a neighborhood." He also questioned how often the picnic tables would be used if they were far away from the entrance to the building. In contrast to those advocating for a more neighborly building that could be a gathering place for people in the neighborhood, a woman who also lives on Fairview Avenue expressed concern about people congregating at the picnic tables after hours. (The store will be open from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m.)

Planning Board chair Walter Chatham reminded the board that it operated within "a box" that defined its purview and commented, "Stewart's has been very nice entertaining what falls out of that box." Wehmann commented that the plan was "still so open-ended, it could be anything," but Chatham's assessment was "we are close." 

Although board member Wieman wanted to keep the public hearing open and "discuss among ourselves," the public hearing was closed, and Chatham noted that the board now has sixty days to make its determination.


  1. Carole, if memory serves, I believe Scott (from Stewart's) indicated that the sidewalk could be widened on the Fairview Avenue side, as per Matthew's rendering.

  2. This reminds me of the night a total stranger (who was new to Hudson) came to a School Board meeting and complained, loudly and articulately, that having BOE meetings on Monday nights was very inconvenient. The BOE, never faced with such a complaint and wanting to me nice to a perfect stranger, voted, without much discussion, to move the BOE meetings to Tuesday. The complainer never came back (on Tuesday), attendance dropped, and six months later, the BOE voted to go back to Monday meetings.... Sounds like Chairman Chatham made the right call on this one....

  3. At what point does Stewart's submit its plan and application to NYS DOT?

    1. I don't think they will be. It was confirmed on Tuesday that all of Stewart's access and egress was from city streets. DOT will have no involvement.

  4. The City owes many thanks to Matthew Frederick for his contributions, and the planning board for working through them.

    But if there was one meeting for Chuck Marshall to attend, this was this it. If he can't take his sack of council approved promises across the finish line, who will?

    Incredible how a tree or two is like pulling teeth from a corporation with $1.6b in revenue, so I won't ask about the "much improved intersection" or that "host community agreement".

    1. Susan Lynn Troy submitted this comment:

      Dear Mr. Marston, I was quite taken back by your tone in your Stewart's post.

      Mr. Marshall certainly doesn't need me (or anyone else for that matter) to defend him, but I will. Did it occur to you that perhaps he had a professional scheduling conflict? Did it occur to you that perhaps he had a personal emergency? Did it occur to you that perhaps he got a flat tire, or had some other transportation related issue? And does it ever - just one time even - occur to you that Mr. Marshall is a human being with a job to do and a family to support? Mr. Marshall, it seems to me, has conducted himself in a consistently professional manner; has exhibited patience and kindness on more than one occasion where there has been a consistent undertone of hostility, simmering just under the surface. And yes Mr. Marston, I've been to the meetings, do not work in any capacity for Stewart's, and am not Chuck Marshall's third cousin, twice removed.

      I have not from the beginning understood the anti-Stewart's mania. That's because I'm local. I've not lived in Paris. I've not ever been an elected official in Hudson. I've not taken on giant alledged polluters and I don't drive an expensive vehicle that gets a hundred miles to the gallon like a Jeep Brute.

      As simple as I obviously am, I do understand that if instead of Stewart's selling chunk light tuna on white bread swaddled in plastic wrap in the to-go section of the store, but instead served shrimp pancakes, or pork katsu presented on lovely place ware, the conversations would be far less snarky, and there would be zero personal attacks.

      I recognize Lent, but wish you a joyful Spring, Mr. Marston.


  5. How can that be? Fairview Ave is NYS Route 9 and Green Street is NYS Route 23B.