NISKAYUNA — The town has lost a drug store — but is gaining a dollar store.
The town's Planning Board on July 8 voted in favor of site plan approval for a Dollar Tree store at 1215 Troy Schenectady Road, a building located at the intersection of Rosendale Road. Part of the store actually is located in Colonie.
The store will replace a Rite Aid store that has been closed for nearly a year.
"The applicant has proposed no major structural changes to the building other than the removal of the drive-thru that was used by Rite Aid," read part of a statement prepared by town planners. "The only proposed site [work] is the re-striping of the parking lot and the addition of parking spaces in the space of the former drive-thru."
The new store will be open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Lynn Sipperly of the Latham engineering firm L. Sipperly & Associates, representing Dollar Tree, said the company would cover the window once used for drive-thru orders. Board members discussed wording for several minutes; they did not want the window "boarded up" and wondered if the window could be re-bricked instead.
"We just want it to look good," said board Chairman Kevin Walsh, adding the words "boarded up" sounds cheap.
Sipperly said the window would not be boarded, but replaced with material that will match the current look of the structure.
There were some reservations about a "dollar store" moving into the town.
"I do want to make a point to my Planning Board members that I have concerns, larger concerns ... about what this tells us about the status of a retail market in Niskayuna," said Board Member Michael Skrebutenas. "To have this be the entryway into town gives me pause for concern.
"We already have a dollar store, some variety in Shop Rite Plaza, will we now get a Family Dollar in Mohawk Commons?" Skrebutenas also said. "We know that these are kind of ruthless competitors, this is the reality of the 21st century retail market.
"I'm not proposing anything, I'm making a statement to say we should pay close attention to what happens in terms of retail turnover in the rest of Niskayuna, particularly Mohawk Commons," Skrebutenas added. "What will happen to the old Walmart store, what will happen to the individual retailers in Mohawk Commons Plaza? This is low cost, low overhead, low-wage jobs. That's the gateway entry to our town and it just tells us a lot about what's happening in retail."
"Again, it's commentary, there nothing to be done with it. I don't think this is evolved or really true progress in any way, I just wanted to make that point to our members."
The Walmart Neighborhood Market on State Street closed during the spring of 2017, after 3-1/2 years of operation.
Board Member Genghis Khan agreed with Skrebutenas. He said when he first learned about Dollar Tree, his first statement was, "Is that the best use of that place?"
Board Member Morris Auster offered another perspective.
"I don't disagree," he said, "but I think an abandoned building is worse."
"There is no disagreement there," Skrebutenas said.
The resolution to approve passed unanimously.
Sipperly said Dollar Tree would like to be in the new space by September.
In other business, members discussed site plan review and a special use permit requested by Ace Hardware, which hopes to open a store at 1448 Balltown Road, in the former Morgan Stanley financial services building.
Ace representatives had requested their business be taken off Monday's agenda. They were not present at the meeting.
The property is located next to the 1st National Bank of Scotia, which stands at the corner of Balltown and Nott Street East.
Ace plans include a greenhouse for the center of the building, three facade signs and the installation of canopies along the building's southern and eastern facades.
Town Attorney Paul Briggs said a special use permit will be required.
"You're not going from retail to retail," he said. "We're going from office building to retail. It is a permitted use but I really think a special use permit is needed."
Concerns remain. The board hopes Ace Hardware can secure an easement that will allow customers access to a road off Balltown that currently is used by two nearby businesses. A path for pedestrians to walk up to the store from Balltown is also a board preferences.
Parking for the building has always been in the back, accessed through a passage off Nott Street East. Board members said the access road is currently in disrepair.
Board members believe a hardware store would be a good use for the space, especially with the recent closings of Woodlawn True Value Hardware on State Street in 2017 and Phillips Hardware on Union Street this spring.
In addition to answering road concerns, the board also expects Ace to show renderings of signs for the building. A public hearing on Ace's plans will be held at a future date.