Schenectady County

Rotterdam Town Board stymies planned drugstore

CVS Pharmacy’s controversial proposal for a one-story drug store with a drive-through near a residen

CVS Pharmacy’s controversial proposal for a one-story drug store with a drive-through near a residential neighborhood was stopped dead in its tracks before even reaching the town’s planning review process.

By a 3-2 margin, members of the Town Board voted against sending the company’s request for a zone change for the project to the Planning Commission. The failed vote follows a deadlock on the proposal last month, when the board was short one member.

Board members Matt Martin, Nicola DiLeva and Wayne Calder voted against the measure after hearing a flurry of complaints from residents living near the proposed building. Supervisor Frank Del Gallo and Robert Godlewski, his deputy, both voted in favor of sending the project to the commission to get its take on the zoning change.

“I repeat what I said before: This is only for a recommendation,” Godlewski said before casting his vote Wednesday.

Others said they didn’t need any more information to formulate their opinion of the project. DiLeva said she’d take the word of residents who had spoken out about the proposal ever since it surfaced earlier this year.

“I don’t need any more information,” she said.

It was unclear what action the company will take in response to the failed vote. A regional spokeswoman for CVS and Andrew Brick, an attorney representing the company, did not return calls Thursday.

CVS needed to change the zoning for three small homes on Lawndale Avenue and four on Curry Road to build the proposed 13,225-square-foot drugstore. The proposed building would have also covered the vacant lot of the former First Class Products building and a dilapidated mixed-used structure that has remained vacant at the busy intersection since CVS purchased the property more than three years ago.

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.

Residents living near the proposed zone change vehemently protested the project, claiming it would dramatically reduce their quality of life. They argued additional traffic from the CVS would become a problem in the densely residential neighborhood that lacks sidewalks.

Roxanne Heller, a resident of Oakdale Avenue, argued the area doesn’t need another drugstore. She suggested developers consider a different project that would draw a cluster of businesses that would add to the appeal of her neighborhood.

“Please don’t allow a big box to move in here and destroy what we’ve worked so hard to build,” she said prior to the vote.

Lawndale Avenue resident Al Hutchins said his street isn’t built to handle the type of traffic a CVS could bring. He argued a drugstore like the one proposed by CVS would ruin a longtime residential neighborhood.

“The bottom line is Lawndale Avenue was developed as a residential area, as it has been for the past 70 years, not for retail business,” he said.

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