NISKAYUNA: It's a mall

Rebuffed by the town board in a hard-fought series of 3 2 votes on Tuesday night, advocates for preserving the two century-old Ingersoll Home intact are vowing to take the issue to court.

Saying that the board majority overlooked or ignored" substantial evidence that the construction of a strip mall on the corner of State Street and Balltown Road would do irreparable harm to a valuable historic resource, Linda Champagne said her group is prepared to file legal papers within a month.

"The votes were no surprise, they have been set in stone for months," Champagne said. "Obviously we would have liked it to go the other way, but I don't want people to get discouraged by the town board's actions."

In two separate votes the board, led by outgoing Supervisor Luke Smith with backing from council members Diane O'Donnell and Maria Freund, narrowly determined that it would not be necessary for developers to conduct a full-blown environmental impact statement before turning the 12.5-acre parcel of mostly green space into a shopping mall that will be called Stanford Crossings. The board also approved granting the special use permit that is required so that work can go ahead.

While it is still necessary for developers to gain planning board approval for their final site plan, Highland Development LLC has publicly committed to preserving the original portion of the Ingersoll Home, the oldest historic structure in Niskayuna that's still in use. During Tuesday night's meeting, supporters of the proposed strip mall noted the developers' willingness to preserve part of the home in explaining their support for the retail project.

Others supporters honed in on the project's location along State Street and across from Mohawk Commons as a key factor in backing the construction of additional stores.

Noting that the land had long been zoned for retail use, Smith said, "People can tell us all day long that this is not a commercial area. It is a commercial area. The developers have worked very closely with the town. I think it's a very good project, and I vote yes."

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