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Ballston Spa seeks ‘interested agency’ status in Walmart review

Wednesday, June 11, 2014
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— The village of Ballston Spa will seek “interested agency” status in the upcoming environmental review of a controversial proposed Walmart store in the town of Ballston.

The Village Board voted Monday to request the designation, which is intended for government agencies that have no jurisdiction over a project but have specific concerns about it they want addressed during the environmental review.

The action comes as the town of Ballston Planning Board collects comments in anticipation of declaring itself lead agency for the Walmart review.

The proposed Walmart — which has generated strong feelings from both opponents and supporters — would be located off Route 50 less than a half-mile south of the village.

Mayor John P. Romano has already sent a letter to the town of Ballston, stating concerns about increased traffic if the store is built, especially tractor-trailers passing through the village on their way to make deliveries to the store.

If the store goes forward, there’s also an interest in extending sidewalks from the village to the Walmart site, Romano added.

Under the state’s Environmental Quality Review Act, “An ‘interested agency’ has the same ability to participate in the review process as a member of the public,” according to a Department of Environmental Conservation legal summary. It has the same right to comment on the proposal as the public.

The 137,000-square-foot store appears to comply with existing zoning for the land, which is owned by Rossi Development of Ballston Spa. Therefore no zoning change is needed, and the Planning Board has authority to review and approve the project.

The board is currently collecting comments on whether it should serve as lead agency, and what status other government agencies like the village and state Department of Transportation should have during the review.

The board isn’t expected to act on the lead agency matter until July. The environmental review is then likely to take several months.

 
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