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Public weighs in on hamlet plans

Residents of New Scotland put their suggestions for future development on paper during a meeting Thursday, Dec. 1, at Voorheesville High School. The town is working with planners to create a master plan for future development centered by the intersection of Route 85 and 85A.

Residents of New Scotland put their suggestions for future development on paper during a meeting Thursday, Dec. 1, at Voorheesville High School. The town is working with planners to create a master plan for future development centered by the intersection of Route 85 and 85A.

Residents of New Scotland are again weighing in on development issues as a renewed effort gets underway to shape the town’s future.

At a public meeting held Thursday, Dec. 1, about 60 people involved themselves in the process of developing a New Scotland Hamlet Master Plan.

Using a $50,000 grant from the Capital District Transportation Committee, a study was completed of existing conditions in the designated hamlet area, roughly centered around the intersection of Routes 85 and 85A. Those findings, including population trends, zoning capacity and more, were presented at the meeting. Attendees then broke into small groups for a 45-minute brainstorming session.

Town Board member Daniel Mackay was encouraged to see many people he didn’t recognize at the meeting.

“I don’t think there’s any hidden agenda here,” said Mackay. “There’s no intended result that the committee has at this point.”

Committees were previously formed in 2005 and 2008 to examine the issue of development within the hamlet area. As part of the latest effort, many residents expressed that they don’t want large chain retailers incorporated into the town’s plans – an issue that has proved controversial in the past.

“Right now, I think everyone still has the past two years in mind,” said resident Bridget McManus, “about retail having to mean whatever big box store it may be, where as retail could be someone selling pottery, or someone selling bike pumps.”

A developer’s desire to build a Target store played a huge role in the 2009 town elections, and a proposal to impose a size cap on commercial buildings was narrowly defeated shortly after that race. The size cap issue has periodically rumbled to the surface since then.

The ideas suggested by residents at Thursday’s meeting varied greatly. Some residents expressed interest in creating more pedestrian and bicycle access, specifically for those trying to get to shops along Route 85. Others expressed a desire to see more moderate-priced housing for young families, and there was even a proposal for the establishment of a brewery within the town.

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