Scott’s Corners QuickChek plan fuels further debate

Posted 3/1/22

Representatives of a proposed Scott Corners QuickChek returned to the Town of Montgomery Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) last week and the discussion included debate over just who is allowed to …

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Scott’s Corners QuickChek plan fuels further debate


Representatives of a proposed Scott Corners QuickChek returned to the Town of Montgomery Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) last week and the discussion included debate over just who is allowed to participate in that debate.

QuickChek is proposing a 6,700 square foot building at the site of the shuttered Crossroads Restaurant at the intersection of Routes 208 and 17K. That’s larger than what the town’s zoning law allows for a convenience store, but the developer has argued that only 1,000 square feet of that space should be designated as a convenience store. The rest includes a seating area, food preparation area and a gas station.

Opponents of the project include the owner of the neighboring Citgo Service Station and the community watchdog group Citizens Protecting Montgomery. They have hired attorney Alberto Roberts to represent them. The attorney for QuickChek, meanwhile, has argued that the group of appellants does not even have a legal right - or standing - to challenge the project.

“We may be bound by decision of the courts as to what constitutes ‘standing,’” warned ZBA Chair John Fallon at last week’s spirited public hearing.
With that, a discussion ensued.

“I feel very much so that I have a right to speak for residents of Montgomery,” said Don Berger, co-founder of Citizens Protecting Montgomery, a group which, he said, has 850 members. “I think we do have standing here.”

Berger argued that the plan does not conform with the newly-adopted Town of Montgomery Comprehensive Plan which, he said, calls for “community commercial” at Scott’s Corners. The word ‘large,” he said was purposely left out of that definition.

“I think they’re reading it wrong,” Berger said. “It’s still 6700 square feet. Period.”

Berger also said traffic was an issue, referencing a “horrific” school bus accident at the intersection a few months ago, involving the Cornwall High School football team that was returning home after a game at Valley Central. (Among those hospitalized were two players, one coach and the bus driver from the school bus and an occupant of the other vehicle. The driver of that vehicle was taken into custody under the suspicion of driving under the influence.)

Russo Vosoughi, owner of the Citgo station is one of the other appellants. He said he doesn’t operate the station himself, but rented it out to a young couple with one child.

“I’m not afraid of competition as long as its fair competition, Vosoughi said.

He added that traffic cuts through his property just to avoid the traffic light. This project, he said, will make it worse.

“Please deny this application,” Vosoughi said. “Let them find a more suitable place for their colossal project.”

Karina Tipton, a member of the town’s comprehensive plan committee presented a petition with 300 signatures in opposition to the project.

Attorney Joseph G. McKay, representing QuickChek, reminded the board that the only thing it needs to determine is whether or not the town’s code enforcement officer properly interpreted the town’s zoning code in ruling that the convenience store is larger than the permitted 1,000 feet and therefore would need a variance.

“You, as a court determine whether he made the right decision or not,” McKay said, adding that other concerns addressed are matters for the town planning board to consider.

“I submit to you that the appellants do not have standing,” McKay said. “The law says you must be within the zone of interest. You must have a concrete injury separate from the public at large in order to have standing.”

He said anyone located beyond 500 feet of the proposed project is presumed NOT to have standing.

“The appellant within 300 feet cited light pollution, noise and traffic,” McKay said. “That same appellant has the adjoining gas station with the lights and the noise and the traffic. It’s kind of like the pot calling the kettle black.”

Town of Montgomery Councilwoman Sherry Melick operates Ken’s service station, with a 24-hour towing business within 300 feet of Scott’s Corners.

“I have pulled a lot of accidents off of that corner,” she said.

The ZBA adjourned the hearing until March 21 at 7:15 p.m. Fallon, the chairman, set March 10 as the date for any further submissions, with March 15 as the deadline for rebuttals.