Appeal to Ballston Zoning falls short, Walmart project moves a step forward

BALLSTON — The Town Zoning Board rejected an appeal Wednesday night made by Smart Growth Ballston and resident Dave Stern challenging the validity of the Rossi Planned Unit Development District (PUDD) issued for the Walmart project back in May, 2011.

Ballston Zoning Board Attorney, Peter Reilly, spent just over seven minutes reviewing the appeal and the arguments presented by attorneys Jeffrey Baker (representing Smart Growth Ballston), Frank Rossi, Jr. (representing the Rossi family) and Leslie Mauro (representing Walmart) in addition to the decision rendered by the board.

Reilly explained the appeal as a dispute over two issues and determinations made by Ballston Building Inspector Tom Johnson. First, the determination that significant or substantial progress had been demonstrated, within 24 months, and the PUDD had not expired.Second, whether substantial progress continued to be made, without undue interruption, after construction commenced.

READ the minutes and attorney arguments from the Ballston Zoning Board Meeting, Mar. 4, 2015>>>

Reilly stated the findings and review of evidence in the record, inclusive of dates of measurable activity and follow-up communications, and the comments received during the public hearing, resulted in the Zoning Board’s decision to uphold the determinations made by Johnson.

“Hopefully, this decision is another positive step along the road toward the new Walmart we’re planning for Ballston.  We know that many are looking forward to the jobs and the affordable shopping that we will be bringing to the community, and we are greatly appreciative of the strong support we’ve been receiving,” said Bill Wertz, Director of Communications for Walmart.

Noticeably absent from the meeting were appellants Dave Stern, members of Smart Growth Ballston and their attorney, Jeffrey Baker of law firm Young/Sommer LLC.

A call to Mr. Baker was not returned and emails to members of Smart Growth Ballston were also not responded to.

Stern said that he was “disappointed with the decision.”

READ SGB Claims PUDD for Walmart Project Expired

Attorney for the Rossi family, Frank Rossi, Jr. said “We are extremely happy with the Ballston Zoning Board of Appeal’s findings. They have made it clear that the appellants’ claims had absolutely no merit.  A tremendous amount of hard work has been put into improving and preparing the PUDD land for the uses approved by the Planning Board and Town Board, and it is great to see a third Board state, in no uncertain terms, that the work done so far meets or exceeds what is required and desired by the Town.”

“We also appreciate all of the positive input we have been receiving from the residents of the Town and Village — the support has been overwhelming as the applicants’ engineers finish providing responses to the Town’s engineers’ comments.  We are optimistic that a SEQRA determination will be made relatively soon.  It is clear that the Planning Board has been giving all provided materials the hard look required by SEQRA, and we appreciate the hard work they have put into reviewing all of the data and information before finalizing such a determination,” Rossi continued.
According to Rossi, there will hopefully be more forward momentum by the end of May although he declined to detail specifics.
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