A proposal for a Fuccillo Volkswagen dealership on Central Avenue brought several residents in front the Planning Board with questions of safety regulations and quality of life in a neighborhood already surrounded by dealerships.
The Planning Board heard from Fuccillo representatives at its Tuesday, June 9, meeting regarding the conversion of three properties on Central Avenue into one single Fuccillo Volkswagen dealership. While the plan received concept acceptant from board members, residents in the surrounding neighborhood voiced concerns over speeding drivers and pedestrian safety.
The three properties are 2240, 2242 and 2250 on Central Avenue bordering the Schenectady county line. Each property is separated by side streets and currently house several dealerships already. Victor Caponera of Caponera Law Firm proposed combining the properties into only one dealership.
“These are three separate parcels that cannot be merged… because they are separated by roads,” said Caponera. “And on each one of these parcels could be a separate and distinct automobile shop. We are proposing one dealership.”
With traffic a concern along Central Avenue, Hershberg & Hershberg engineering representative Daniel Hershberg said that no driveways would let out onto the main road. Instead, access would be limited to Nutwood and Wilber avenues.
As well, since the current dealerships on the property have limited green space, parking cars as close to the roadways as possible, Hershberg said that there would be 15 feet of green around the properties bordering the side roads and 30 feet facing Central. This would give salespeople enough room to conduct business without standing on the roadways, which was a concern of neighborhood residents.
One neighbor said that pulling onto Nutwood Avenue has become dangerous with dealership staff doing business on the roads, where visibility is low for cars coming off of Central. “It’s just an accident waiting to happen,” he said.
However, according to Town Designated Engineer Chuck Voss, the town’s largest concern is how storm water on the site will be handled. Since there are stricter regulations for businesses like car dealerships, where oil, gas, or coolants could leak onto the ground, different procedures are required to retain water on the site.
Hersherg said that Fuccillo is prepared to line the ground if no other methods can be found to ensure contaminated water does not leak into groundwater. He also said that Fuccillo would aid with any crosswalks or sidewalks that may need to be put in for pedestrian safety—the neighbors’ largest concern surrounding the proposed project.
Residents questioned if another dealership was necessary in the area. With a pocket park aimed toward toddlers on Albany Street and Nutwood Avenue in disrepair, most residents felt that the condition of the neighborhood had to be taken into account in the planning process.
Several neighbors said that trucks and tractor-trailers ignore the posted weight limit along Nutwood Avenue, which has caused wear on the pavement. Drivers also speed down Nutwood and Albany Street to test out new cars from existing dealerships, according to the Colonie residents.
“It’s a main thoroughfare,” said one town resident, whose house lies in the middle of the proposed project.
Planning Board members agreed that the condition of Nutwood Avenue needed to be studied before the Fuccillo project moved forward. While it received concept acceptance, board Chairman Peter Stuto said that an interim meeting will be needed to address residential concerns before final acceptance.
Suggestions of making Nutwood a dead-end road, turning it into a cul-de-sac, or making it one-way were made, but Voss said the ultimate decision was the Town of Colonie’s.
“This is a pretty important issue, I think, for the quality of life back there,” said Stuto. “We would have an interim meeting before final acceptance…to study these issues.”