COLONIE — A new Honda dealership is being proposed at the former site of Hewitt’s Garden Center at 1111 Troy Schenectady Road.
Part of the plan includes a new road and bike path running from the back of an existing Keeler parking lot to River Road, an idea not warmly embraced by the Planning Board.
Other issues brought up at the sketch plan review, when a project is introduced to the board, were drainage and the number of curb cuts along the 2,715 lineal feet of frontage along the busy Troy Schenectady Road. As the project was presented, there are seven curb cuts between two traffic signals, one at Albany Shaker Road and one utilizes an easement to access the Cumberland Farms parking lot to access a traffic signal at British American Boulevard.
“You should be able to cut down on the number of curb cuts especially since you will have access to two lights and if you throw in the rear access, I don’t think you will need that many curb cuts,” said Planning Board member Craig Shamlian.
The proposed road would run from the back of the northernmost parking lot behind one of Keeler’s showrooms and connect with River Road near Northview Drive. The accompanying bike path would eventually lead to the bike path that runs along the Mohawk River.
“To the access road the neighbors won’t be happy with it. We all know Keller Honda uses River Road for test drives and mechanic drives and we have known it for years,” said Planning Board member Steve Heider. “On a positive note this access road will keep traffic off of Route 7, off of Rosendale and off the upper end of River. That is about the only positive. But, is it going to funnel all that traffic out the back and make it easier for Keeler to get to River Road?”
The bike path could be moved to behind Cumberland Farms rather than forcing bicyclists to navigate a car dealership parking lot.
“The applicant is looking forward to making that connection a reality,” said Nick Costa, of Advance Engineering, who presented the plan on behalf of Keeler.
While the public is not allowed to comment at a sketch plan review, one sat in at the meeting, held remotely on Zoom because of the pandemic, and said he is concerned with the road and potential drainage issues. Costa said there would be porous pavement which allows storm water to flow through the parking lots into the soil rather than have it run off site.
The proposal calls for the construction of a 43,060-square-foot new Honda dealership on the west side of the site where Hewitt’s used to operate. On the east side of the site, there would be a new, 35,000-square-foot collision repair center and an attached 12,000-square-foot Maserati/Alfa Romeo dealership.
There are two waivers required for the project to proceed: permission to exceed the maximum 25-foot setback and allow parking in the front of the building.
The existing Honda showroom would become the used car center and the existing used car center would house something like a cafeteria to help support the massive Keeler operation that has Honda, BMW, Mini and Mercedes Benz showrooms and repair shops on site.
The 55 acres of land has two zoning designations, Commercial Office Residential along Route 7 and Single Family Residential along River Road. Keeler is also looking to subdivide the back northern portion to allow three residential building lots, two on River Road and one just south along the proposed new road. All that may change before the project is back before the board for a review of the site plan concept.
“The bike path needs work, maybe it can go entirely through green space and not through the parking lot,” said Planning Board Chairman Peter Stuto. “The residential lots look a little jammed up, and I am opposed to a driveway road.”
Keeler purchased Hewitt’s and demolished the old building in 2019. It has been using the land to store excess inventory.