CVS Pharmacy’s controversial proposal for a one-story drug store at the corner of Guilderland Avenue and Curry Road will get a second chance, despite continued residential opposition to the project.
Members of the Town Board agreed to send the proposal to the Planning Commission for a recommendation on rezoning four residential properties for commercial use. Board member Matt Martin was the only one to vote against the resolution, citing his continued objection to the project.
“No, based on the encroachment on the zoning,” he said during the board’s meeting Wednesday evening. “My vote is no as it has been.”
Deputy Supervisor Wayne Calder, who opposed the project in October, decided to change his vote. He said he decided to put his trust in members of the commission to review the proposal and return a well-deliberated recommendation.
“This isn’t a done deal at all,” he said in explaining his vote. “This is only the first shot here.”
But residents living along Lawndale Avenue — a short residential street adjacent to the proposed site of the pharmacy — and nearby Sunrise Boulevard didn’t seem convinced. About a dozen of them attending the meeting let out groans when the resolution passed.
Last fall, CVS attempted to change the zoning for three small homes on Lawndale Avenue and four on Curry Road to build the proposed 13,225-square-foot drug store. 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.
Residents living near the proposed zone change vehemently protested the project, claiming it would dramatically reduce their quality of life. They argued the drug store would change the character of a historically residential area and that the additional traffic from the CVS would become a problem for the neighborhood.
Short one member in September, the board deadlocked on whether to send the rezoning proposal to the commission. The following month, Martin, Calder and former board member Nicola DiLeva shot down the proposal after hearing a flurry of complaints from residents.
Many of the same residents returned Wednesday to urge the board against approving the measure. Sunrise Boulevard resident Calvin Rugg said seeking an opinion from the commission was simply giving the developer further ammunition to force the town into approving a project that is bad for the area.
“Ask yourselves this: If you’re living on Lawndale, is this something you want to see looking out your front window?” he said.
Roxanne Heller, a resident of Oakdale Avenue, argued the area doesn’t need another drug store, especially with so many located in near proximity to the proposed site. She said allowing CVS to build on the site could mean the company will shut down another store in Rotterdam, thereby leaving the town with another derelict building.
“We have two [CVS locations] within five minutes of here,” she said.
Andy Brick, an attorney representing the project, said the developer had “substantially revised” the project to appease the residential concerns voiced five months ago. He said the changes include limiting the exits onto Lawndale Avenue, improving the landscaping around the building, and changing several aesthetic features of the project.
“This plan is completely conceptual in nature,” he told members of the board.