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Bethlehem says it won't extend water to New Scotland site

By JARRETT CARROLL and DAN SABBATINO

Bethlehem officials said they are skeptical of a big-box proposal in neighboring New Scotland and are pledging to say no to extending water or sewer to the project.

The town currently sells water and sewer services to New Scotland and owns the Vly Creek Reservoir in Voorheesville, which is its main water supply.

The majority of the Bethlehem Town Board does not support the current proposal from Sphere Development LLC in Cazenovia, and members said they won't support any municipal water or sewer lines to the large retail proposal at the site at the former Bender Melon Farm, situated on routes 85 and 85A.

Supervisor Jack Cunningham said the location simply couldn't sustain it.

"The reality is that their infrastructure is not prepared for that type of development," he said. "We're not advocating for this project and the residents are communicating to me they are not supporting it so that's what I've been communicating back to New Scotland."

Opposition to the plans began when a 137,000-square-foot anchor store, such as Target, was proposed. Some advocacy groups have pushed for a 50,000-square-foot size cap, but the issue has been divisive.

Greg Widrick, Managing Partner for Sphere Development LLC, said he is not surprised Bethlehem has pledged to not supply water to the development.

Widrick recalled comments by Cunningham previously made supporting a moratorium on commercial development in New Scotland.

"It's kind of absurd that a 16-inch water line runs right by the site and Bethlehem wouldn't allow us to tap into it," Widrick said.

Cunningham said he frequently talks with New Scotland Supervisor Tom Dolin, and the issue of water access came up when Bethlehem was asked about extending water and sewer to the proposed New Scotland Senior Living Community near the Bender Melon site.

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