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New Scotland candidates debate zoning, ethics

She, along with Stanton, indicated they would support a larger cap, possibly 85,000 square feet for commercial buildings, as a compromise.

LaGrange, Dolin and Mackay, running as a team, all indicated they favored a 50,000 square foot size cap. Dolin noted that the law should include a "grandfather clause" or exclude existing businesses in town, and be careful not to hurt existing local businesses, such as Long Lumber.

LaGrange said the numbers are not arbitrary but backed by the studies and committees. He said a lot of hard work went into coming up with that number.

"The law we started with was not a perfect law," LaGrange said.

LaGrange also indicated that planning board is limited by a size cap, but the town board could still grant a developer exceptions for larger projects under the town's Planned Unit Development law.

"It's not a hard and fast cap on development," he said.

Even with a PUD Stanton said 50,000 is too small.

"It's far too restrictive," he said. "A PUD is more red tape and more hoops you have to jump through."

Fields said he does not support big-box, but a 50,000 square foot size cap is equivalent to "crucifying our own businesses."

Mackay warned of the back-end costs of making development too big, such as increased Albany County sheriffs and traffic. He also criticized the notion of a compromise of 85,000 square feet, as 50,000 square feet is already up from the 30,000 square feet previously discussed, and a far shot from those who want to preserve the land as open space.

Later in the evening the candidates were prompted to discuss the role that the planning board should have in projects. The candidates agreed that the scope of the planning board is limited and the town board can "ultimately kill any project," but Dolin proposed decreasing the size and limiting the number of years one can sit as chair in order to increase diversity among townspeople.

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