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Mall before the fall

"The present administration would have approved it immediately," he said. "Sometimes a town has to make a decision."

John Graziano, chairman of the Republican Party in Colonie said he does not know every detail of the process leading to Lowe's, but said the previous administration did its due diligence for public comment, something he would like to see more of.

Joe LaCivita, the town's director of planning and economic development said he was not around at the time Lowe's was going through the approval process, but said prior planning boards had a reputation for lengthy procedures.

"We started moving at the speed of business, not the speed of government," he said. "Prior procedures were lengthy at best."

At the time the Lowe's was proposed, the neighborhood was divided about bringing the large-scale retailer to the mall.

In May of 2001, a letter from Steven Spelter, president of the Eastern Latham Neighborhood Association, raised concerns about the Lowe's loading dock being in a residentially zoned area, plus noise, traffic and pollution, something he said were "unwarranted by good zoning laws."

The Eastern Latham Neighborhood Association proposed having the loading dock on the Route 9 side of the mall, to avoid any problems. The loading dock is located behind the store, away from Route 9, though.

Eventually the Lowe's was approved, but by that time, Weiss said, a number of tenants who had planned on renting moved on to other locations, crippling the mall's chances for success.

When Weiss sold the mall at the end of 2008, he said, he did so with the hopes that it will succeed, if not for him, but for his home of five decades.

"To see its [the mall's] disintegration before my eyes is painful," Weiss said. "It was my home, and Latham was my home. I hope to God it succeeds tomorrow."

Check back next issue for a look at the mall now, and a closer look at its status as a "dead mall."

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