SCHUYLERVILLE | Plans for a proposed Dollar General store straddling the village of Schuylerville and town of Saratoga lines will be presented to the town Planning Board later this month, and opponents of the project hope others will join in voicing their concerns with the project.
The proposed 7,300-square-foot facility will be built on a portion of a 0.76-acre lot owned by Vito and Lynn Soave, according to Saratoga County tax records.
An adjoining parcel owned by Northumberland Town Supervisor Bill Peck will also be sold and a portion of the store’s parking lot would be constructed on that piece.
A group of nine concerned residents gathered Sunday at Fort Hardy Park to prioritize their concerns and brainstorm solutions to prevent the construction or limit the negative impacts they believe may come with the store’s construction.
An increase in traffic was discussed, in part for the potential for increased volume, but also in regards to location on state Route 29, as visibility along that stretch is compromised by a slope.
Mayor John Sherman, in an interview Tuesday morning said, “I’m concerned about traffic. I’m concerned about sidewalks.”
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The Village Board, he said, is looking for possible solutions with project engineers from Bohler Engineers.
The possibility of a caution light or a lowered speed limit is being explored.
The store would be located between Saratoga Apple and the Schuylerville schools complex.
Because the store would not open until 10 a.m., Sherman did not have major concerns with morning school or commuter traffic, other than some delivery trucks that may enter the store lot.
Sherman said the fall always poses issues as visitors to the orchard park along Route 29 and accidents are very common.
From what the board has learned, sidewalks to the location are not a possibility because the slope of the land prevents a sidewalk from being compliant with Americans with Disabilities Act standards, Sherman said.
Stormwater run-off was a concern for the residents Sunday, as Laura DiBetta noted a previous issue with construction at Morgan’s Run, a development of 100 homes across Route 29 from the proposed store, cost the village $14 million.
Ian Murray, chairman of the town Planning Board, said state law dictates all stormwater issues be addressed by the property owners on site. Water from parking lots and the roof do not get diverted to nearby school property.
Though a retaining pond for run-off was discussed, Murray said, “There’s a way to handle this that you won’t even see it, so there’s no visual impact from the road or on neighbors.”
Residents voiced great concerns with the aesthetics of the building, based on drawings of a metal “big box store” that have been submitted to the village.
Their concerns to the village, however, may be falling on deaf ears, as the village has no zoning restrictions.
The town of Saratoga does have zoning laws, but with the building footprint falling within village limits, the town will be looking at compliance solely of the parking area.
Murray, however, said the town Planning Board will be “asking lots of questions and looking for the village to be the lead agency.”
Murray said he will likely recommend the project undergo the full Environmental Assessment Form, rather than a short form, to determine potential impacts on the environment.
As for aesthetics, Dollar General spokeswoman Crystal Ghassemi said the company considers the character of the communities where stores are locating.
The stores may have log siding in more mountainous regions, or a beach motif near the shore. In rural Vermont, Ghassemi said, stores have been made to match the historic charm of their surroundings.
“They are not a cookie-cutter,” she said.
Though the group had previously voiced concerns involving the historic charm of downtown Schuylerville, the store would not be located downtown. Neighboring businesses would include a Subway, veterinarian clinic, pizza parlor, car wash and a Chinese restaurant.
Dollar General is headquartered in Tennessee and reported $18.9 billion in sales in 2014. The company, however, will not own the building, but instead will operate under a 15-year lease from an investor who is purchasing the land.
Ghessemi said the details, including the potential purchaser and lease agreement, would not be released to the public.
Calls to Bohler Engineering were not returned.
Peck said he is not voicing an opinion on the sale or proposed building and will abide by the decisions of the town and village.
Residents were concerned with the potential for Dollar General to abandon the property if the store turns out to be unsuccessful, and the future of a box building left vacant after the lease expires.
Ghessemi said the company is currently in a “due diligence phase.” While interested in a store at the location, a number of factors are considered before a deal is finalized, including the availability of permits and whether there are enough households to support the store.
The data the company uses shows customers of the stores come from a 3- to 5-mile radius of the location.
The current vacant home, which would be removed for construction, is assessed at $69,700.
Sherman was not sure yet of assessed value of the proposed building, but he said he believed the new building would be the highest assessed building in the village once complete.
“It’s really income for the town and the village,” he said of the project once complete. “It’s sales tax and property tax and water and sewer,” he said.
An online petition was initiated April 14, garnering more than 280 signatures in the first week; however, addresses listed by those signing the document include Vermont, North Carolina, California, Canada and Switzerland and can be “signed” with false names and addresses.
According to the petition, the group is hopeful 1,000 signatures can be presented to the Planning Board.
An additional paper petition is currently being circulated. The town Planning Board meets again at 7:30 p.m. April 29.
You can read Christina Scanlon’s blog daily at www.poststar.com or follow her on Twitter, @CJ_Scanlon.