WARRENSBURG - The manner in which town officials handled a proposed development of a new Stewart's Shop in a historic district of Warrensburg came under fire at the May 12 town board meeting. Of particular concern was the board's recent decision to rezone the host parcel on Stewart Farrar Ave. to accommodate the new development.
Resident Dorothy Potter expressed dismay about the Stewart's planned convenience store and gas station, noting that the new store will increase traffic substantially in an area where schoolchildren and seniors frequent.
"You will have a ton of traffic there," she predicted, questioning whether residents were properly notified of the zoning change which occurred last month. Town officials replied that letters were sent out properly.
Resident Paul Weick expressed his concern that the town Planning Board refused to allow public comment during the planning board's recent meeting in which they decided to recommend the zoning change to the town board.
Town board member John Alexander noted that citizens against the Stewart's rezoning project weren't allowed to speak at this planning board meeting, yet Stewart's representative Tom Lewis was allowed to offer his comments on behalf of the change and the development.
"I'm really concerned about the process," Weick said, noting that petitions against the rezoning to commercial hamlet status, bearing hundreds of signatures, were presented to the town board before the board made its decision contrary to the majority of those speaking out recently. Those opposing the project have cited the problems of noise, fumes, traffic, parking problems and have voiced objections over a busy commercial enterprise encroaching in a historic residential neighborhood.
"Considering the widespread opposition, the town should not have pushed this through, " he said.
Supervisor Kevin Geraghty said he would advise the town planning board to allow public comment at their meetings.
He also said that the rezoning to the commercial designation unified the allowed uses with contiguous parcels - a point which members of an ad hoc group against the rezoning disputed. He also said that state and county traffic studies showed that congestion would not be excessive. He added that the town board was trying to keep Stewart's in Warrensburg rather than locating just south of the Schroon River bridge in the town of Lake George, an action that would lose the store's property tax revenue.
Geraghty also said the board would be advising the planning board to hold a full formal public hearing on the proposed Stewart's project rather than arriving at a decision the first night of site plan review, or May 18, as the board is empowered to do.