Saratoga County

Board views Clifton Park convenience store plans with concern

Two new proposals for Stewart’s Shops in the town of Clifton Park raise major issues with traffic an

Two new proposals for Stewart’s Shops in the town of Clifton Park raise major issues with traffic and zoning, members of the Saratoga County Planning Board said Thursday.

The region’s major convenience store chain is looking to build a new store with gas pumps at Lapp and Crescent roads to replace an existing Crescent Road store. In addition, the company wants to add gas pumps at an existing store on Ushers Road, in the northern part of town, that doesn’t have them.

At a meeting Thursday in Ballston Spa, members of the county Planning Board made clear they are leaning against both proposals, which are in residentially zoned areas, though the Lapp Road site borders commercial development.

“Both of these are probably non-starters with the town,” said Planning Board Vice Chairman Edwin Vopelak.

Both plans are currently before the Clifton Park Zoning Board of Appeals for use and area variances. Because they are on county roads, the town is required to get non-binding advisory opinions from the county Planning Board.

In application paperwork, Stewart’s officials argue that changes in how people shop require their stores to sell gasoline in order to increase merchandise sales.

The Ushers Road site is a former Bonfair store, taken over by Stewart’s when it bought the Bonfair chain in 1994.

Vopelak, who lives in the area, said the Bonfair was approved years earlier on the condition it not have gasoline sales. He also noted a town recreational trail runs across the front of the property, where Stewart’s seeks to add a second entrance.

At Lapp Road, the store is being proposed on vacant land at the corner of Crescent Road, which is among the busiest of county-owned roads, and board members said traffic in and out of the store is a concern.

The site was approved for an office building a decade ago, but the building was never built. It abuts homes in the Crescent Estates development.

County Planning Director Jason Kemper said he will send the town a letter outlining the county’s concerns, noting the requested use variances don’t appear to be justified.

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