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NISKAYUNA: Board delays Ingersoll vote

A showdown in Niskayuna was avoided this week when the town board delayed holding a public hearing on a controversial retail development being eyed along Balltown Road. The decision to hold off on the hearing means that the project slated to go in across the street from Mohawk Commons won't get a special use permit for at least another month.

The hearing would have given opponents of the project a forum to criticize the multi-million dollar retail strip that developers want to put on the land currently used by the Ingersoll Home for the Aged. The project has been the focus of staunch opposition since it was unveiled in the spring, and the controversy has dogged the proposed 62,000 square-foot retail complex that Highbridge Development LLC wants to construct. So far, the development has survived two separate votes, one by the town board and another by the planning board, as part of the approval process.

We originally had the hearing on the agenda for our Dec. 19 town board meeting, but we were contacted by an attorney for the developer and they asked for a delay so I took it off the agenda, said Supervisor Luke Smith. "I think it's an indication of how seriously they are taking the recommendations of the planning board. And that's all part of the process.

"At this point I haven't scheduled a new date for the public hearing and they can't go forward with the project unless they have a special use permit," Smith said. "Once I hear from their attorneys that they are ready to come in front of the board, then I'll schedule a hearing."

The decision on a special use permit is the last hurdle Highbridge Development faces in garnering town approval for the project. The developer's odyssey started in the spring when it gained backing for a new nursing home at 3359 Consaul Road. That building will house elderly residents who currently live in the Ingersoll Home's 33-bed nursing facility. Last moth Highbridge won approval from Niskayuna's planning board on a 5 " 2 vote for building a retail complex on the 12.5-acre parcel where the Ingersoll Home is located.

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