CARS HOMES JOBS

Tie vote may again spell end to plan for Rotterdam CVS

Thursday, April 19, 2012
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— CVS Pharmacy’s plan to build a new store at the corner of Guilderland Avenue and Curry Road appears to be dead again.

Members of the Town Board failed to reach a consensus at their April 11 meeting on whether to set a public hearing for a controversial zoning change needed for project.

Board members Matt Martin and Wayne Calder both voted against advancing the change to the public hearing legally required before the board can act.

Supervisor Harry Buffardi and board member Robert Godlewski both voted to schedule the public hearing, but board member Michael Viscusi was absent, thereby leaving the vote tied and the resolution defeated.

An attorney representing CVS declined to comment about the most recent setback. Buffardi said last week’s vote brings serious doubt to whether there will ever be enough support on the board to advance the zone change some have said would encroach commercial interests into a residential neighborhood.

“I don’t know if there’s going to be any will to put it back on [the board’s agenda],” he said.

CVS proposed demolishing a cluster of homes and a dilapidated mixed-used building to construct a two-story, 13,225-square-foot building with an 80-space parking lot. The company also planned to close locations it rents at Rotterdam’s Five Corners and on Broadway.

The intersection where the new store was proposed is directly across from a Rite Aid built in 2006. That project resulted in the demolition of three mixed-use buildings.

CVS faced strong criticism from residents early on. Homeowners living near Lawndale Avenue blasted the project as being a threat to their quality of life and property values when it was first proposed in September 2011.

Some feared traffic from CVS would pour down Lawndale in order to avoid the oft-congested Curry Road intersection. Others questioned how the day-to-day operation of a business anchoring the block would impact life in an otherwise residential area.

Board members refused to send the project to the Planning Commission by a 3-2 vote in October 2011, essentially halting progress on the company’s zone change application. The issue was revived in February, when the newly installed Town Board sought the commission’s opinion.

But commission members weren’t pleased by the CVS proposal and ultimately decided not to support the change.

The company subsequently approached the Town Board and asked it to vote on scheduling a public hearing.

Buffardi said he supported moving the project to a public hearing in order to follow the process. He also questioned whether stopping CVS in its tracks might negatively reflect on the town and impact future economic development, citing another major corporation that was stymied from building in the town.

Wal-Mart scrapped plans to build a supercenter at the site of the former town Republican Club on Burdeck Street in 2006. The company pulled the project after the Town Board drafted a critical impact law that gave it veto power over projects larger than 100,000 square feet approved by the commission.

“I don’t know if we want to chase out another Fortune 500 business,” Buffardi said.

 
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