The Niskayuna Planning Board this week tabled action on a tower-like direction sign requested by the Target department store.
The proposed sign, described by Target representatives as a "beacon," will stand 13 feet, nine inches tall and be erected in the store's parking lot. The sign, if approved, would be located near the front of the store located at 428 Balltown Road, Mohawk Commons.
The distinctive, red tower will read "Drive Up" and guide shoppers to spots where they can pick up goods ordered through the store's mobile app. The sign's height includes a solar panel that will light the sign after dark.
"The most effective way to direct guests to the designated drive up location is with consistent placement and clear and visible signage across all stores," read a letter to the town's Planning Department written by Veronica Prezioso of Kimley-Horn, a planning and design engineering consulting service based in White Plains.
"Consistent placement of the drive up location on a national level, one or two rows over from the store entrance, and clear directional signage is important to eliminate driver confusion and/or congestion of on-site traffic flow by shoppers searching for the designated area," Prezioso also wrote.
Target will need a waiver from the town, as Niskayuna code says direction signs may not exceed four feet in height.
Board members asked Prezioso and her associate Tim Zhang for alternatives that would not require a waiver. The board also
wants more time to study the issue, the reason for the vote to table.
Board Chairman Kevin Walsh has no trouble with the beacon.
"I don't think it's a big impact to the site, especially based on the topography. But based on the board's input, I'm OK with seeing the alternative, which we haven't seen but would be conforming," Walsh said, "So, at least we can discuss it."
Board members also want to see beacon signs that have already been installed at other local targets in the area.
"As a planning board, I think we're obligated to ask the question 'What does conformance look like?'" said board member Genghis Kahn. "You guys (Prezioso and Zhang) really need to prove to us that conformance is just not going to work to benefit the customers of Niskayuna."
In another matter, the board opened a public hearing for comments on the Ace Hardware store proposed for 1448 Balltown Road. Ace needs a special use permit and site plan approval before work can begin inside the former Morgan Stanley financial services building.
Lorene Zabin was the only person who spoke. She was against the project.
"I am so opposed to this I almost want to put a 'For Sale' sign up," she said. "I think our interpretation of commercial or retail or whatever you've designated for that area -- when I think about what we have there, a very, very prestigious law office (Higgins, Roberts & Suprunowicz, P.C) and we have Channel 6 (WRGB), which is the first TV station in the country ... and now we want to put lawn mowers and garden equipment and furniture in a hardware store. I think we're denigrating Balltown Road."
Zabin also does not want to see Niskayuna "developed by variance."
"They come in pledging to do this and to do that," she said. "They're not there a year or two years and all of a sudden they want to change everything, or they want to add to it or they want to disturb it.
"We are now disturbing a residential street (Whitmyer Drive) with commercial trucks to use a facility that we have not only bonded but we have raised our fees to use, the water and sewer plant," Zabin added.
There was no presentation by Ace, as representatives did not appear. Walsh said the public hearing would be kept open, and people will able to comment at the board's next session on Aug. 26.
The board recently honored two longtime associates who have left town employment. Robert Hess served as deputy town attorney and provided counsel to the board. Jeffrey Twitty served as assistant planner since 2017.
Twitty will soon begin law school at Duke University.
Hess, a former chairman of the town's Zoning Board, said he appreciated the honor.
Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]