CVS, Burnt Hills Fire Referendum Results Under Review

CVS, Burnt Hills Fire Referendum Results Under Review

BALLSTON – The Burnt Hills Fire District is reviewing the results of the Sept. 20 public referendum that granted approval for an easement agreement between the proposed CVS Pharmacy at the corner of Lakehill Road and Route 50 and Fire Station No. 1.

The easement agreement, approved by a vote of 266 to 212, allows the parking lot for the proposed CVS location to connect to Route 50 utilizing the second entrance to the left of the fire department as a shared driveway.

CVS, Burnt Hills Fire Referendum Results Under Review

Members of the Ballston Planning Board hear from developers and members of the public on proposed CVS./Photo by Ashley Onyon.

Members of the Zaremba Group, the developers for the project, appeared before the Ballston Planning Board Wednesday, to review the site plan. During public comment, Carl Thurnau, a member of the fire district who strongly opposed the easement agreement, related to the board that there was a possible issue with the referendum results.

“The Planning Board should be aware that some of the residents of the fire district have requested the [Burnt Hills Fire District] Board of Fire Commissioners conduct a verification of eligibility for persons voting in the referendum. I understand this request is based on the irregularities in the voting list provided by the County Board of Elections,” Thurnau said.

“Many, many people who voted were not on the lists, because the lists were defective,” he said. “If people voted who were not eligible in that election, it is invalid.”

Ballston Planning Board Chairman Richard Doyle asked Lee Ramsey, who sits on the Board of Fire Commissioners and was present for the meeting, to contact him regarding the matter. Ramsey related that the fire district was in the process of reviewing the results of the referendum.

RELATED Traffic Remains Concern Before CVS, Burnt Hills Fire Agreement Referendum

Following the meeting, Ramsay said the fire district, which had conducted voting for the referendum, had received the list of registered voters from the Saratoga County Board of Elections late on the day that voting took place. Before the list was received, voters signed their names on a notepad. In order to verify that only registered voters had participated in the referendum, fire district officials were checking the names that had been signed on the notepad against the list provided by the board of elections.

Ramsay could not say for sure when the review would be complete, but the process was worked on both Tuesday and Wednesday night.

As part of the easement agreement, the Fire District will receive $280,000 from CVS, 2.5 acres of land adjacent to the firehouse, CVS will replace the station’s septic system and CVS will expand the station’s existing parking lot. CVS will be responsible for all costs related to constructing and maintaining the shared driveway.

The project was set for a public referendum following the unanimous approval of the easement agreement by the five members of the Board of Fire Commissioners in mid-August.

Members of the fire district were divided over the conditions of the easement agreement, disagreeing over the value and utility of the land being offered to the fire department by CVS, as much of the space is considered wetlands.

RELATED Members of Burnt Hills Fire District Divided Over Proposed CVS

Members also disagreed over the impact that the new location would have on traffic. Many argued that the CVS would cause an increase in traffic potentially reducing response times and that CVS patrons may cut through the fire department’s first entrance to reach their destination during heavy traffic, hampering emergency responders.

Some members viewed the project favorably noting that the septic system for the fire department is failing and needs to be replaced, the additional parking spaces would be beneficial when hosting community events, the additional land would add value to the department and could allow for future expansion of the building and the new CVS would be an asset to the Route 50 corridor.

Traffic Remains a Concern for CVS, Burnt Hills Fire Agreement Before Referendum

Rendering of land allotment under easement agreement between CVS and Burnt Hills Fire District./Photo by Ashley Onyon.

The proposed CVS would replace the existing store. Original plans call for a 13,225 square foot building, with 57 parking spaces, a drive through window, and access to the parking lot from both Lakehill Road and Route 50. During the meeting, developers stated that CVS had made a request earlier this week that the plans be revised to reduce the size of the building to just under 12,000 square feet.

The reduction would reduce the size of the building by six feet going from north to south and seven feet from east to west. While developers had not had time to draw up revised plans showing the reduction in size, members of the board and the Town Engineer, Kathryn Serra of C. T. Male Associates, looked at the reduction favorably.

Board members noted that the reduced size of the building would likely address concerns they had raised regarding the ability of large delivery trucks to navigate the parking lot. Serra requested that the developers reexamine the number of parking spaces they would require given the revision. The original plans exceed the number of parking spaces allowed by town code and would require a waiver.

The developers intend to revise their plans and meet with the Town Engineer to further discuss the alterations to the project prior to appearing before the Planning Board next month.

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Reporter Ashley Onyon is a graduate of the journalism program at SUNY Albany. She wrote for the Mohawk Valley Compass for two years covering the GASD Board of Education. She has contributed articles to The Mohawk Valley Independent and the annual journal Upstream.

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