COLONIE — By unanimous decision, the Planning Board granted the owners of Latham Ford permission to construct a new dealership on Troy-Schenectady Road near the intersection of Wade Road.
The plan calls for a two-story 42,528-square-foot building that includes a mezzanine of about 6,000-square-foot, a 26-bay service center and a storage warehouse for parts. There will be parking for about 336 vehicles.
Three parcels, two on Troy-Schenectady Road and one on Wade Road, are being consolidated into one six-acre lot with a right in and right out only access on Troy-Schenectady road and full access on Wade Road. The land is zoned Commercial Office Residential and a car dealership is an allowed use but a variance was requested and granted to exceed the 30,000-square-foot maximum footprint permitted in a COR zone.
Full access onto Troy-Schenectady Road was initially proposed but it was changed to right in and out because of Planning Board concerns about traffic at the busy intersection. In particular, there were concerns about motorists trying to take a left onto Troy-Schenectady Road.
According to a traffic study presented by engineer Dan Hershberg, who ushered the project through the process on behalf of the applicant, the site will generate 87 trips during the peak afternoon travel hours on weekdays and 219 during the midday peak hours on Saturday.
Motorists will be notified of the right in and right out by signage but Planning Board Chairman Steve Heider said he would like the curb cut to be designed in such a way to make it difficult to do anything but make a right hand turn in or a right hand turn out.
“It does not appear structured to prevent left hand turns,” Heider said of the entrance onto Troy Schenectady Road. “The radius appears pretty straight. When this first opens, it will be a cluster, we know that, but is there anything we can do to make it a stronger right in and right out, to make it harder for someone to make a left in or a left out.”
Also, the company agreed to build a sidewalk on the east side of Wade Road rather than along its property because there is already patches of sidewalk along that side of the road and it agreed to install fencing rather than just use vegetation as landscaping along Wade and Troy-Schenectady roads.
At the Planning Board’s urging, there will be a clause drawn into the final site plan forcing the company to prohibit the unloading of vehicles from Troy-Schenectady or Wade roads. That has been an issue at different dealerships along major thoroughfares in town.
Test drives too, will not take place in ways that disrupt the existing neighborhoods, which is less a concern at this site since there are no residential homes in direct proximity.
“There will be some education but after a bit, everyone will know how to come in and out and how and where to unload the trucks,” Hershberg said.
The project is within the Airport Area GEIS and there will be mitigation fees but they have not yet been determined.
In 2020, Latham Ford was sold to Oregon-based Lithia Motors, one of the largest retail automobile sales companies in the country with more than 200 dealerships. Locally, it also owns Carbone Subaru in Troy and Armory Chrysler Jeep in Albany.
It remains unclear what will happen to its longtime home on Columbia Street. It is on a valuable intersection, Columbia Street and Route 9, near where the new headquarters for Ayco was recently completed on Coliseum Drive. It is next door to six acres where the Ayco developers, the Galesi Group, recently began building a 60,300-square-foot office/retail building.
The Latham Ford website already gives directions to the new site rather than Columbia Street.