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Green light for strip mall site plan in Niskayuna

Going forward despite a lawsuit working its way through the state court system, the Niskayuna planning board has approved a site plan for development of a strip mall on the corner of Balltown Road and State Street.

The approval, handed down at the Monday, Aug. 27, meeting means the developer, Highbridge Development LLC, is one step closer to construction of a controversial project that will convert 9.4 acres of mostly wooded land into a retail center with a half-dozen stores and a restaurant.

Approval for Stanford Crossings came without a single board member voting against the project and included a series of standard conditions such as a requirement that sufficient water and sewer capacity be available before construction gets under way.

Critics have lambasted the project, saying it would dramatically transform the existing Ingersoll Home for the Aged, a historic structure preservationists are seeking to protect.

Led by a group known as the Friends of Stanford Home, they have roundly criticized the town for failing to require a comprehensive environmental impact study before giving a green light to developers by approving a special-use permit in March.

Claiming the town acted improperly, the group has since sued the town in state court and is awaiting a ruling by state Supreme Court Judge Joseph Sise.

We are not really focused on the actions of the planning board, said Linda Champagne, leader of the Friends of Stanford Home. "Our focus right now is on the case we have in court and the decision that we expect will be coming down from Judge Sise in the next several weeks.

"It is an absolutely horrific thought that we would lose such a valuable historic and environmental resource. We are very hopeful that it will turn out well and the town will have to revisit these issues after a comprehensive review of the environmental impact this project would have on the whole area."

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