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Court sides with town in Wal-Mart case

Court sides with town in Wal-Mart case

A mid-level appeals court has sided with the town of Ballston when it enacted zoning changes that do

A mid-level appeals court has sided with the town of Ballston when it enacted zoning changes that doomed a planned Wal-Mart Supercenter on routes 50 and 67.

The owners of the land where the store would have been built are Frank and Marie Rossi, who lost a lawsuit in state Supreme Court in Saratoga County last year when they argued the town had illegally enacted a moratorium and rewritten zoning laws with restrictions on large commercial construction.

Supreme Court Judge Frank Williams in Saratoga County ruled the Ballston Town Board was within its rights to revise a comprehensive plan and to place restrictions on new construction.

On Thursday, the Appellate Division of state Supreme Court agreed with Williams.

The Rossis’ daughter and family spokeswoman, Gina Marozzi, said her parents will meet with their lawyer to decide the next step. “We’re not through with this,” she said.

But, Wal-Mart spokesman Philip Gerghini said the Route 50 property site is no longer under consideration by the company.

“That project is not on our radar screen anymore,” he said.

The company is, however, still interested in building a store in or near the town of Ballston, he said.

“We’re always on the lookout for a site where there is a demand,” he said. “We know we have a lot of customers in the immediate Ballston area who are traveling to get to a store.”

Proposals for the Wal-Mart on routes 50 and 67 and another large strip mall with big box anchor stores across the road were responsible for the creation of grassroots opposition groups whose members crowded Town Board meetings and voiced their disapproval of any large chain store.

The board eventually passed zoning that requires any project over 90,000 square feet to be directed to the Town Board rather than the Planning Board for final approval or rejection.

When Wal-Mart presented the store plan under the new town guidelines, it was rejected as too large by the Town Board.

Town Councilman James Briaddy said he hoped the matter would come to a close now.

“The Town Board did what it thought was right for the future of the town, and the courts have agreed,” he said. “We’d like to move forward now and find good businesses of the right size for Ballston.”

Although Supervisor Patti Southworth was not on the board at the time of the zoning changes, she said she, too, wants to see developers come to town with projects that would fit the current laws governing new construction.

“We really hope to move past the conflict and work for economic development that fits our community,” she said.

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