Mohawk Harbor still wants 30-foot tall LED sign

Schenectady zoning board will consider nearly identical plan to one rejected in October
The intersection of Erie Boulevard and Mohawk Harbor Way in Schenectady, looking northwest.
The intersection of Erie Boulevard and Mohawk Harbor Way in Schenectady, looking northwest.

Categories: Business, News, Schenectady County

SCHENECTADY — An elevated LED sign proposed for the entrance to Mohawk Harbor will be back before the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals on Thursday — in slightly modified form — despite its being rejected last month.

The Galesi Group wants to place two illuminated signs to advertise the commercial and retail tenants of Mohawk Harbor, the riverside residential/business community it is building at the north end of Erie Boulevard.

Neither proposed sign complies with zoning for the area, so the Planning Commission referred the plans to the ZBA for a final decision, with recommendations for approval on September 20.

The first is a monument-style sign with internal LED lighting. It will be on the ground, will stand 10 feet tall and measure 25 square feet, and will be set back 15 feet from the corner of Erie Boulevard. The zoning limits such signs to 7 feet tall and 25 square feet, and requires a 20-foot setback. 

With landscaping, the sign will serve a secondary purpose of obscuring views of the STS Steel facility, an old steel fabrication shop that is incongruous with the sleek new glass, steel and concrete development nearby.

The ZBA approved the monument sign unanimously at its Oct. 4 meeting.

The second sign is a pylon-style construct proposed for farther into Mohawk Harbor, which Galesi said would not be visible from Erie Boulevard. It originally was proposed to stand 30 feet tall, measure 265 square feet, have a 12-foot-wide message board and have a 1-foot setback. Zoning calls for a maximum of 10 feet of height and a 75-square-foot maximum area with an 8-foot wide message board, plus a minimum 3-foot setback.

The ZBA rejected that proposal in a 4-2 vote on Oct. 4. The ZBA members who voted against the request focused on the large size of the sign in their comments.

Galesi modified and resubmitted its plan for the pylon sign and now proposes a 3-foot setback. All other dimensions are the same in the resubmitted plan.

ZBA Chairman James Gleason said it is very common for rejected proposals to be modified and submitted for reconsideration.

A much taller pylon sign originally proposed for property next door to Mohawk Harbor, at Rivers Casino & Resort, drew criticism during the planning phase. The casino, which also was developed by Galesi, later cut its planned signage in half and canceled plans for the 80-foot pylon sign altogether.

One person spoke about the two proposed signs during the public comment portion of the Oct. 4 ZBA meeting: nearby resident David Giacalone, an opponent of the casino since its earliest conceptual stages and a critic since construction.

He said the monument sign on Erie Boulevard would neither screen the view of STS Steel nor serve to identify tenants. The pylon sign, he added, would be glaring and distracting.

On Wednesday, Galesi Group would not comment on its revised request for the pylon sign.

Thursday’s ZBA meeting will begin at 6:30 p.m. in Room 209 of City Hall.

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