New Scotland group makes appeal to Bethlehem

The Bethlehem Town Board listened to a second appeal from an advocacy group in neighboring New Scotland that opposes what is being called a big-box development just across the town line.

This time, New Scotlanders for Sound Economic Development Founder Daniel Mackay asked the town to write a letter of opposition to the Albany County Planning Board on a proposed 85,000-square-foot size cap on single-building construction that was recently passed by the New Scotland Town Board.

In March, fellow NS4SED member Edie Abrams asked the Bethlehem Town Board to send a letter of opposition against the Bender Melon Farm development to the Town of New Scotland.

The motion to adopt the size cap, primarily drafted by New Scotland Councilman Rich Reilly, passed unanimously at the town's April 15 meeting. Councilman Doug LaGrange and Town Supervisor Tom Dolin supported an amended version of a zoning law featuring a 50,000-square-foot size cap to be sent along with Reilly's draft, but it failed 3-to-2.

The proposed New Scotland zoning law also caps a "community shopping center" at 250,000 square feet, according to the local law being presented to county planners.

Mackay said Bethlehem has a stake in defeating the size cap, which is significantly larger than the 50,000-square-foot cap that he and his organization supported.

"I just wanted to give you an update on what's happening in the neighboring town," Mackay told the board. "In the opinion of my organization and many of the residents in town, the wrong size cap was passed, a much higher one [was passed] than we think is appropriate for the site and appropriate for the neighboring hamlet of Slingerlands and thus the town of Bethlehem."

Mackay contends that in the proposal that was defeated, a subdivision restriction was included that would have prevented putting multiple sites of construction in one area that could individually meet the 250,000- and 85,000-square-foot caps.

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