Last week, Gossips reported that a citizens group in Altamont was suing the Altamont Village Board and Stewart's Shops over the zoning change adopted by the board that would enable Stewart's to expand its convenience store and gas station in Altamont. Yesterday, the Altamont Enterprise reported that Stewart's was threatening legal action against the Village of Voorheesville if it adopts new zoning that would prohibit Stewart's from building a new convenience store and gas station at 112 Maple Avenue in Voorheesville: "Stewart's threatening to sue Voorheesville if village adopts new zoning."
The story of Stewart's and Voorheesville has been going on for a few years now. In the spring of 2016, Stewart's bought Smith's Tavern, an iconic pizzeria in the heart of Voorheesville. The plan was to demolish the building and construct in its stead a convenience store and gas station. The site is next door to another gas station, across the street from Voorheesville Elementary School, and 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. In response, Stewart's Shops threatened to sue, claiming that "the request for in-depth review is unlawful and merely a delaying tactic."
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. The moratorium, which was for six months, could be extended for two additional six-month periods, and it was.
On January 7, 2019, the Times Union reported that, because Stewart's could not get the approvals needed to build its new convenience store and gas station at 112 Maple Avenue, it was closing its existing store and leaving the community: "Stewart's exiting Voorheesville after plan for new store fails." That article also reported that Stewart's had listed the former Smith's Tavern with Carrow Real Estate, but there seems to have been a change of heart.
Voorheeesville now has a new comprehensive plan, which has not yet been incorporated into the zoning code, that would ban formula businesses, i. e., chains, and "petroleum dispensing" in the Creekside Commercial District, the district in which 112 Maple Avenue is located.
The Altamont Enterprise reports that at the second public hearing about the comprehensive plan, on April 30, 2019, representatives from Stewart's Shops showed up. Michael Ginley, general counsel for Stewart's Shops, asked the Village Board to rescind the parts of the comprehensive plan that would prevent Stewart's from pursuing its plan for 112 Maple Avenue. According to the report, "Ginley said that if Voorheesville went ahead and adopted the proposed changes to the zoning code, 'Stewart's will be filing an Article 78 against the village.'"
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