ROTTERDAM — A local convenience store owner and other neighbors plan to fight an effort to locate a new Stewart's convenience store at 2970 Guilderland Ave., where an auto body shop is now located.
More than 500 people have signed the in-store or online petitions created by Arshad "Ali" Butt, who owns Qik Pik, an independent convenience store less than 300 feet from the proposed Stewart's site, also on Guilderland Avenue.
While that section of Guilderland Avenue is zoned for business development, the areas just behind it are single-family residential.
"What we are thinking is, this is a residential area and we believe if Stewart's comes here they will bring big traffic, a lot of trucks," Butt said on Tuesday. "If they come in it will no longer be residential."
Other residents have also expressed concerns about increased traffic if a Stewart's is built in their neighborhood, as well as lighting from the store, which if operated like other Stewart's, would be open from early in the morning until late evening.
Butt and several residents spoke against the plans at the Feb. 13 Town Board meeting, and plan to speak again at Wednesday night's meeting.
The Town Board, however, has no schedule for making a decision and has yet to schedule a required public hearing, said Town Supervisor Steven A. Tommasone.
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As part of the town's initial review process, the town Planning Commission earlier this month recommended the Town Board rezone a section of Floral Avenue – the street behind the proposed Stewart's – from residential to general business, so Stewart's can include that section in its project.
Stewart's, the Saratoga County-based convenience store chain, wants to build a store that would include four gasoline pumps on the site that currently is occupied by AC Body Works, an auto body shop.
Butt said his store, which offers convenience items but does not sell gasoline, has been in town for more than 50 years, and he has owned it for the last 16 years. The proposed Stewart's, he said, would have an entrance on Lilac Street, which he said is residential.
"I could have gas in here, but it's a residential area," he said.
Tommasone said the Planning Commission recommended approving the zoning change because commercial development on Guilderland Avenue is consistent with the town's comprehensive land use plan, but that's no guarantee of Town Board approval.
"Does that mean the Town Board is going to favor this application? That remains to be seen," he said.
Tommasone also noted that he knows Butt and has patronized Qik Pik for years. "I've known him and his family for years, they're hard working and they have a real loyal customer base," he said. "I would not want to see anything to negatively affect their family, but the town has an obligation to consider any applications that come before it.
"As far as Town Board is concerned, each one of us is looking for more information before we put any prospective zoning change on the agenda, especially one where the residents have a lot of concerns," Tommasone said.
A Stewart's spokeswoman declined to comment.