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NISKAYUNA: Ingersoll vote nears

Members of the Niskayuna Town Board discussed their options for the Ingersoll property at its meeting Tuesday, Feb. 27.

Highland Development LLC has proposed a strip mall for the property, which is directly across the street from an existing mall, Mohawk Commons. The 12.5-acre parcel, most of which is currently vacant green space, has long been properly zoned for retail development.

Under the proposal submitted by developers, a portion of the historic Ingersoll Home would be torn down but the original structure would be kept intact. Much of the current lot would then be turned into retail space and parking to accommodate customer needs. The dozens of senior citizens who currently live in the home would be relocated to a structure now being built on Consaul Road. Before the new stores can be built, the town board must support the project by approving a special use permit for it. Developers can't proceed without the permit.

Among the options reviewed on Tuesday were a moratorium, or a positive or negative declaration under the State Environmental Quality Review Act. A positive declaration essentially states that the project will affect the environment; a negative one says it won't.

A negative declaration would push the project forward. A positive one would halt it for further study by requiring the developer to prepare an environmental impact statement. A moratorium could still be considered regardless of a decision under SEQR.

The board is expected to vote on either a positive or negative declaration at its meeting Tuesday, March 13.

Superintendent Luke Smith said he will put together a resolution for a negative declaration, and board member Liz Kasper said she intends to put together a resolution for a positive declaration.

Championing the argument for a moratorium was board member Bill Chapman, who would like the town to study and try to preserve historic sites within the community. Chapman would like to see the Ingersoll site deemed a historic site.

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