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Future home of Stewart's

The former Time Warner Cable building at 250 Ridge St. in Glens Falls is seen. Stewart's Shops wants to construct a new store with gas pumps at this site. Neighbors have expressed concern about traffic, and the Planning Board on Tuesday delayed its approval pending more study about pedestrian traffic around the site. 

GLENS FALLS — Stewart’s Shops’ proposal for a bigger store with gas pumps at the site of the old Time Warner Cable building has been delayed, as the Planning Board wants more information about the number of children who cross the surrounding streets to get to school.

Stewart’s wants to build a roughly 3,850-square-foot store and a four-pump canopy, which will have eight fueling positions at the site of 250 Ridge St.

Also included in the site are two adjacent parcels, an accountant’s office at 258 Ridge St. and adjacent parking lot at 260 Ridge. The Common Council last month voted to rezone those two properties from residential to commercial.

Chuck Marshall, real estate broker for Stewart’s, said the company has since closed on those two properties.

Residents have expressed concern that the project would increase traffic in the neighborhood, pointing out that Jackson Heights Elementary School is nearby and it is a walking district.

“You’re going to put it there and hope and pray that a child is not going to get killed, or maimed,” said Barbara Kelly of Graves Street. “I want the council, the leaders of this wonderful city to seriously consider what is proposed here.”

Sharon Morphis, who lives on Sanford Street, said people run the light at Ridge and Sanford streets.

Jason Brechko, who lives on Raymond Street, said a more detailed traffic study is needed. The study done by Creighton Manning Engineering only looked at the morning and evening peak hours, he said.

Stewart’s officials have said that most of the traffic going to the store is traffic that is already in the area. The study found that the new store would generate an additional 37 vehicle trips during the morning peak hour and 27 in the evening. Each vehicle in or out of the site is counted as a separate trip.

Brechko pointed out that another business would likely go into the space that Stewart’s is currently occupying, and that would add to the congestion.

“Now you’re going to be basically looking at a 150 percent increase in traffic during the day,” he said.

Brechko said pedestrian access needs to be addressed.

Stewart’s has agreed to construct a sidewalk around the perimeter of the property.

Second Ward Supervisor Peter McDevitt agreed that a new traffic study is needed that focuses on the large number of students who walk to school in Glens Falls.

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The study prepared by Creighton Manning found that there were nine pedestrians crossing in the area of Ridge, Graves and Sanford streets and Raymond Avenue during the morning peak hour and 14 in the evening. There were four bicyclists during each time period.

Board member Brigit Culligan said she thought the pedestrian counts seemed small and perhaps it was a rainy day when the study was conducted.

Residents also expressed concern about the scale of the building.

Mark Noordsy, who lives on Graves Street, suggested scaling down the size to a building comparable to the Stewart’s on Glen Street.

“This proposed project is too big for this site. It’s not compatible with the neighborhood,” he said.

Culligan asked whether Stewart’s was open to the idea of reducing the size of the building and moving it further away from other people’s property.

Marshall pointed out that the proposal complies with all the setbacks and the site is laid out in such a way that the store serves to screen the gas pumps from the neighborhood.

Board member Rachel Murray agreed about the scale of the building.

“I think something closer to the Glen Street size might be more appropriate in that neighborhood, and maybe fewer gas pumps,” she said.

Board member Ethan Hall said he wanted more time to review the traffic study and additional information about pedestrian traffic.

He said that perhaps the crosswalk signals in the area should be changed to be activated by a pedestrian touching them, rather than being on a set timer.

Board Chairman Daniel Bruno suggested taking another look at pedestrian traffic, particularly in the hours before and after school, such as 7:30 to 8:30 a.m. and after 2:45 p.m.

The board tabled the application until the Sept. 3 meeting at 4:45 p.m. School is still out, so Stewart’s would not be able to provide updated pedestrian numbers by that time.

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Michael Goot covers politics, business, Glens Falls and Lake George. Reach him at 518-742-3320 or mgoot@poststar.com and follow his blog at http://poststar.com/blogs/michael_goot/.

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