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Niskayuna Planning Board approves Target 'beacon' sign

Niskayuna Planning Board approves Target 'beacon' sign

Structure is meant to guide customers to drive-up area
Niskayuna Planning Board approves Target 'beacon' sign
The Target store in Niskayuna is pictured
Photographer: Marc Schultz

NISKAYUNA — The Niskayuna Planning Board on Monday voted to approve the site plan for a tower-like direction sign requested by the Target department store in Mohawk Commons.

The sign, described by Target representatives as a beacon, will stand 13 feet, 9 inches tall and be erected in the store's parking lot.

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 power lights inside the sign after dark.

Target needed approval because town code says direction signs may not exceed 4 feet in height.

While the measure passed, there were reservations. Alternate board members Dacie Shenfield and Leslie Gold both voted against the beacon, while five members voted in favor.

Shenfield said she downloaded the Target mobile app and drove to Mohawk Commons to pick up purchases. She added Target currently is making deliveries to shoppers with shorter pickup signs in place.

"I didn't have any issues finding it without the 13-foot signage there," Shenfield told board members. "The lanes were properly marked, I saw there were four parking spaces with markings to depict where I should pick up my order."

Target employees, Shenfield added, were able to easily find her.

Gold is concerned other businesses may make similar requests for tall pickup signs in the future. 

"If we allow it there, then there are other sites where the visual impact would be considerably more, other retail sites where they might want to do the same kind of thing," Gold said. "'You gave it to Target, we want it, too.'"

Gold does not think Target made a case for the sign.

"It's their job to do that," she said. "It's not the Planning Board's job to provide them with justification. They're supposed to provide it to us."

Board Chairman Kevin Walsh noted that the site for the sign is 800 feet away from a publicly maintained right-of-way. The nearest residence is 900 feet away; the sign will be turned off when Target closes for the evening.

In another matter, the public hearing continued for 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, the only person who spoke when the hearing opened at the board's Aug. 12 meeting, was the only person who spoke at Monday's hearing.

She remains opposed to the project, and chastised Ace representatives for once again not appearing at the meeting.

"I'm very disappointed that Ace Hardware doesn't think we're important enough to show up," she said. "This is the second time and I really think they should be put on notice. We are not a board to be played with."

The public hearing on the Ace proposal will continue at the board's next session — with Ace representatives present.

"We fully expect them on the 9th of September," Walsh said.

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