Carla Kolbe/For The Recorder Members of a crowd that attended Tuesday's Northville Planning Board meeting hold up paper plates opposing a plan to build a Family Dollar store on the site of the historic Northville Bank, which has been vacant for more than a decade.
By CARLA KOLBE
For The Recorder
NORTHVILLE -- Developers representing Family Dollar made a site plan presentation Tuesday to a standing-room-only crowd that attended a village planning board meeting.
More than 120 people, most of whom appeared to oppose the store, listened as the retailer made its pitch to build a facility at 192 N. Main St., the site of the historic Northville Bank, which has been vacant for more than a decade.
A presentation was given by engineer Robert Osterhoudt of Bohler Engineering, and Kenneth Brownell, the managing director and broker for Vanguard-Fine, both representing the Maple Development Group, which is working with Family Dollar.
Brownell, a commercial real estate professional, said Family Dollar is a national company offering general merchandise and food items at discount prices focusing upon low- to middle-income shoppers. He said Family Dollar stores have proven to do well near other retailers such as Tops Markets and Rite-Aid drug stores.
The proposed Family Dollar would be located next to Northville's Rite Aid and a short distance from the village's Tops supermarket.
Under a preliminary site plan review, the historic 1895 Northville Bank building would be demolished and the .86-acre site would be redeveloped.
Family Dollar has a general store prototype it follows. The proposed Northville store would measure 80 feet by 104 feet, would be set back 80 feet from Main Street, and have 26 parking spaces, with a loading zone, dumpsters, compressor and heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in back.
Brownell said property owner Luigi Lanzi asked if Family Dollar could modify its design to fit in better with the historic Main Street.
"In a gesture of good faith, and wanting to start off on the right track, our architect came up with some modifications to better fit into the village," Brownell said.
The design replaced the signature red store accent band to a more Adirondack-friendly green canopy, the store exterior base will use simulated field stone topped by brick, and will feature goose neck lighting in an attempt to give the store's facade a more quaint look.
The changes did not seem to be enough to satisfy the crowd.
Janet Meuwissen addressed the planning board, saying, "Building a Family Dollar chain store on the former NBT Bank property could enhance, maintain, or take away from the Main Street of Northville. Deciding in favor of this proposal has the potential to take away from the community what it uniquely stands for. This is only the beginning of a change process. Instead of this proposal, please consider change that enhances our economic diversity and aesthetic appeal by seeking unique enterprises and encouraging adaptive reuse of existing structures."
Northville-Northampton Historian Gail Cramer said she is appalled by the threat of losing another historic structure. "This represents who we are, and where we've been," she said.
Several people expressed concern about how Family Dollar's presence would affect the local business community. "For the 10 jobs you claim to bring in, we will lose 10 existing ones," said Ashley VanAllen.
Deacon Joseph Pagano, who said he moved to Northville for its small-town ambiance and charm, had a blunt message for the developers.
"You saw that 'Welcome to the Adirondacks' [sign] about 15 miles down the road? Now stay on the other side of it," he said.
Fulton County Planner Scott Henze facilitated the meeting and explained the site plan review process.
On Oct. 1, Maple Development Group submitted a site plan application to the village code enforcement office for a retail use located within a commercial district. Retail use is permitted in the commercial district.
Based upon the site plan application, code enforcement officer David Curtis determined the proposed retail use is subject to a site plan review, and forwarded the application to the village planning board for evaluation.
Under this review, there are 25 items of information that the planning board can use to determine whether or not the preliminary application is complete. If the application is deemed incomplete, it is returned to the applicant.
Planning board chairman Darryl Roosa, with members James Conkling, Carl Sedon and Jill Gagne, asked questions of the representatives about the site plan. Their inquiries ranged from attempting to use the existing historic building, to septic and storm water issues, the parking, and a feasibility study.
Conkling acknowledged that the adjacent Rite Aid building also doesn't conform with the rest of the village's downtown. He said that store's approval happened during "a different period of time" and hoped village planners would "do a better job" with the Family Dollar proposal.
Sedon hammered the two representatives with multiple questions before saying he believes the design fits in an urban setting, but not in Northville.
"I think this design fails. It is a nightmare. It does not fit in with a small town," Sedon said.
A petition was submitted to the board, with more than 700 signatures, asking for the historic Northville Bank building to not be replaced with a Family Dollar. Latest census figures peg Northville's population at 1,099.
Despite all negative comments, Brownell said he believes Northville is a vibrant community and that Family Dollar would do well in the village.
If the planning board determines sufficient information has been provided by the Maple Development Group, it will deem the application complete and begin a final site plan review.
A public hearing must be held within 60 days of application approval, followed by a state environmental quality review and a subsequent public hearing within 60 days if there are any modifications or changes.