WARRENSBURG - For many weeks, the issue of whether or not Stewart's should be allowed to construct a new convenience store with eight gas pumps on Stewart Farrar Ave. has been debated.
Citizens have aired their conflicting views with passion. Some say the relocation is an encroachment into an historic residential district and poses pedestrian safety hazards; others say it's a progressive, business-friendly change.
Next Tuesday at 7 p.m., the issue will go before the Warrensburg Town Planning Board for a formal public hearing. Their decision may result in the uptown neighborhood's character changing permanently.
Stewart's Shops plans to build the 2,568-square-feet convenience store - about the size of its existing one on lower Main St. - in the middle of the plot that extends from main to Elm Streets off Stewart Farrar Ave.
The town board made a controversial decision about two months ago approving a zoning change of a segment of the lot facing Elm Street, from Professional Multi-family to Hamlet Commercial, to allow stores.
Opponents of the relocation said the convenience store would be more compatible in Stewart's present location downtown, which is fully commercial, rather than encroaching into an historic district that includes homes on the National Register of Historic Places, and Richards Library, a stone structure steeped in history.
Other concerns have been traffic snarls, reduced property values, and safety of school children who regularly walk to school nearby. Noted local entrepreneur Mike Morey of Champlain Stone has suggested the plot be developed into a town park instead of used for a busy convenience store.
Town officials have cited their fears that if denied their favored Stewart Farrar site, Stewart's might relocate their store across the town line, reducing the local tax base.