The intersection of Mill Road and Route 7. (Photo by Jim Franco/Spotlight News)
COLONIE – The car dealership at the corner of Mill and Troy Schenectady roads is back on the table.
On Tuesday, Aug. 8, representatives from DePaula Chevrolet presented a sketch plan for an Alpha Romero/Maserati dealership/repair shop to the town Planning Board. A sketch plan review is the first step in the planning process that could take months to complete.
In May, DePaula pulled the project before it was slated to come before the Zoning Board of Appeals to get setback variances. The plan has been modified, but developers are still looking for four variances to combine two different lots – already zoned commercial – into one 6.2-acre dealership.
It would include a 15,500-square-foot main building, parking for 195 cars, a 7,500-square-foot carwash and one of the existing warehouses would be used for parts storage while the other would be demolished.
One variance would allow the front setback to exceed 25 feet from the road, another would allow parking in the front of the building, another would waive the required greenspace islands in the parking areas, and the last would waive the 10-foot paving setback on the west side of the property.
The location of the car wash is changed on the latest site plan so it is now in compliance with town zoning and does not need a variance. That waiver was in front of the ZBA before it was pulled by DePaula.
“We think it is a good project,” Daniel Hershberg told the Planning Board after presenting the project on behalf of DePaula. “There are some issues to be addressed but we think they can be addressed.”
The town designated engineer, Joe Grasso, said some positive aspects of the project include the fact it is a re-development of an existing, underutilized commercial area, the service bay doors face the front and away from the residential neighborhood and the other requested waivers are relatively minor.
Concern about traffic at the already busy intersection was an issue brought up by the board. DePaula plans build a “right in and right out” entrance for traffic headed west on Route 7, with another entrance on Mill Road – there is already a stop light at the intersection that also leads south into the Peter Harris Plaza parking lot. Members of the board suggested making it as inconvenient as possible for vehicles headed east on Route 7 to a make a left hand turn into the dealership to keep traffic flowing and to keep things safe.
Another concern is the number of test drives potential customers would take, and if they would avoid busy Route 7 and take drives into the residential neighborhoods.
“We are talking about a much lower volume of cars compared to the traditional Toyota, Chevy or Ford dealership,” said Matthew Chauvin, an attorney representing DePaula. “We are not talking about 100 test drives a day or even 50 test drives a day.”
He was not sure how many the dealership would generate, but said he would get harder data as the project progresses through the planning process.
On the flip side the Planning Board Chairman Peter Stuto questioned why there were so many parking spots needed if there is such a low volume of the luxury sports cars sold and so few customers visiting.
“On the one hand you’re telling us it’s a slow dealership and on the other you need all these parking spots,” Stuto said. “It seems a little inconsistent.”
Chauvin said the number of parking spots is dictated by the national chains and would see if that number could be modified at all. Stuto warned the town may not agree with the national chain.
Other concerns include the impact the dealership would have on the adjacent neighborhood that is zoned single family residential but the representatives said the project now meets all required setbacks.
Chauvin said his client would work on addressing the concerns expressed during the sketch plan review and then re-appear before the board in the near future. He said it is too early to even estimate when the project could break ground.
Alpha Romero vehicles start at around $38,000 and quickly jump to just shy of $80,000, according to the company website. A Maserati starts at more than $72,000 and a top of the line Granturismo convertible costs more than $182,000.