GLENS FALLS — Residents spoke in opposition to a proposal by Stewart’s Shops to build a new store with gasoline pumps on Ridge Street, saying the project would add more traffic to a congested neighborhood.
The Common Council on Tuesday postponed a zoning change request from Stewart’s and postponed a separate rezoning request from Ames Goldsmith to allow an expansion of its property on Rogers Street.
Stewart’s is under contract to buy the former Time Warner Cable building at 250 Ridge St., as well as the accountant’s office next door at 258 Ridge St. and the parking lot next door at 260 Ridge. The three parcels would be combined into a roughly 1 1/2-acre lot at the corner of Graves and Ridge streets.
For the project to go forward, Stewart’s needs to change the zoning of the accountant’s office and parking lot from single-family residential to general commercial, which is what the surrounding properties are.
Martha Noordsy, who lives on Graves Street, said she opposes Stewart’s having access onto that street because of heavy traffic, and because the streets have no sidewalks and children walk along them to school. Noordsy said she recently was walking out of one of her neighbor’s homes to talk about this proposal and almost got hit by a passing car.
“A car sped by at about 40 miles per hour and nearly knocked me off my feet,” she said.
Noordsy said she also worries about the scope of the project.
“It’s a lot of bigger than what is currently there and would have a huge impact on the character of that neighborhood,” she said.
Resident Lori Korniak, who lives on Potter Street, shared the same concern.
“Having all those gas pumps changes the whole feel of what that neighborhood is going to be like,” she said.
Mayor Dan Hall said he wants to have a workshop with Stewart’s officials and the neighbors, so they can voice their concerns.
“I think they’re open to it. I think they would like to have discussions on it,” he said.
Linda Plante, who lives on Catherine Street, said she works as a crossing guard, and the intersection of Graves and Ridge streets is one of the most dangerous corners.
Plante worried about truck traffic to the store.
“They’re a wonderful company. My feeling is that the gas pumps should not go in. Let them stick to their groceries and their ice cream,” she said.
Second Ward Councilman Bill Collins said he was happy to see Stewart’s express interest in the Time Warner site, which has been vacant since September 2011, when the company moved its customer services operations into its 227 Dix Ave. location.
Collins pointed out that Stewart’s would occupy a smaller footprint on the site.
“It’s 10 percent less than that — not counting the house that they’re knocking down,” he said.
He added that the new driveway for the store would go where there is an existing driveway.
Collins said parking in the current Stewart’s lot across the street is a “nightmare.” Having an additional entrance could reduce congestion, he said.
Collins said the city plans to follow up with police regarding the speeding issue.
When contacted for comment, Stewart’s Shops spokeswoman Erica Komoroske said the company has completed a traffic study.
“We don’t anticipate much impact on the traffic,” she said.
The study estimated perhaps 20 more cars during the morning and evening peaks, according to Komoroske. The results of the study will be presented at the next Common Council meeting on May 28.
She said Stewart’s plans to sit down with the mayor to discuss the issue, but it would not be an open forum.
The council was short a couple of members, as Councilwoman At-Large Jane Reid is on vacation and Fifth Ward Councilman Jim Clark was attending his daughter’s last high school concert.
Ames Goldsmith delayed
The council also postponed action on the Ames Goldsmith rezoning request. The company, which makes silver-based products, wants to build a 5,400-square-foot office and shipping/warehouse addition to its complex at 21 Rogers St. It needs to rezone an adjacent vacant parcel at 25 Rogers St. from multifamily residential to light industrial to make this happen.
Plante also spoke at this hearing. She expressed concern about the company, citing a 2011 incident in which a large industrial oven that was being used to dry a metal product exploded.
“It literally blew me off of my couch and cracked my front porch,” she said.
She said there is an issue with truck traffic and odors.
“They do most of their heavy duty smelting at nighttime. Sometimes it’s so bad we can’t even open our windows,” she said.
Gray dust spreads from the property, according to Plante. She said she is opposed to the project and would prefer a cleaner operation.
“We don’t need any more expansion of this company in this town,” she said.
Ames Goldsmith President Frank Barber said in an email that he learned Wednesday about the concerns of some residents and said he would be happy to sit down with the city to answer any questions.
“It should be noted that we are looking to add this space for warehousing that will accommodate growth in demand for a legacy product that is already manufactured at our Glens Falls plant. It is not expected to increase truck traffic at our facility,” he said.
He said it would be difficult to complete this project without rezoning that parcel.
“If approved, the project will improve the aesthetics of our Roger Street property, provide our employees with much-needed off-street parking, and of course will result in additional tax base for the city,” he said. “We would like to make this investment in the city where the company was originally founded.”