Two potential zoning laws went before the New Scotland Town Board on Wednesday, Sept. 9, but only one moved on to the Planning Board.
One law was proposed by Democratic Town Board Member Rich Reilly, and the other was proposed by Republican Doug LaGrange, and each deals with size caps for commercial retail buildings, shopping centers and definitions, but with different numbers. Reilly’s ultimately passed the Town Board 4-1, while LaGrange’s was defeated 3-2.
LaGrange, who has been cross-endorsed by the Democratic Party in his bid for re-election, proposed a 50,000-square-foot cap on buildings and a 100,000-square-foot cap on shopping centers, while Reilly’s law, upped those limits to 68,500 with a neighborhood shopping center not to exceed 125,000 square feet and a `community` shopping center not to exceed 200,000.
The Albany County Planning Board has criticized the town for past laws not addressing density, and Reilly said it was his intent to draft one that did.
`It’s certainly no one’s intention to create a law that can be circumvented,` Reilly said.
Reilly said people have expressed interest in a center similar to Stuyvesant Plaza, which is 235,000 square feet. His law calls for a cap 20 percent smaller.
The law states that community centers cannot be located within 2 miles of each other, and no more than three shopping centers can be located within 2 miles of each other.
Some questioned if property rights would be infringed, as once the space in the commercial zone was used up, then others would not have the opportunity to do so, while others criticized the law because the commercial zone is no more than 2 square miles.
LaGrange argued that 200,000 square feet is too large for any one shopping center.
Town Supervisor Tom Dolin also said he was hoping for a size-cap that was smaller, and has been pushing for 50,000 square feet since the issue was first raised.
Prior to the vote, several residents had criticisms of the language used in the laws.
New Scotland resident Christine Galvin said Reilly’s law, Local Law H, has definitions of `department store,` `essential services` and `home occupation,` which are already spelled out in other literature and did not need to be included in the law.
Daniel Mackay, one of the founding members of the advocacy group New Scotlanders for Sound Economic Development and a candidate for Town Board, said he wished there was more time to review the laws, but was happy to see both on the agenda. He asked that both be looked at on an even keel and in public workshops.
Bob Mitchell, an architect in town, said Reilly often uses Stuyvesant Plaza in Guilderland as an example of what residents want in town, but questioned if that is really the case. He said people like the feel of Stuyvesant Plaza but might not be aware of how big it really is.
`Nobody knows the size of anything,` Mitchell said, adding that numbers constantly get thrown around in discussions but without context.“