Queensbury wary on FW Webb rezone

By Mark Frost & Zander Frost, Chronicle Editor & Staff Writer

In the wake of the July 10 public hearing that showed strong opposition and many issues raised, the Queensbury Town Board seems wary on rezoning a 15-acre site on Quaker Road to allow F.W. Webb to build a 96,000 square foot distribution center/retail store on land owned by Robert and Peter Nemer.

Ward 4 councilman Tim McNulty told The Chronicle Monday, “The comments made and the questions asked have me leaning more toward not granting the change in zoning.”

Ward 2 councilman Harrison Freer said, “Based on the inputs we got the other night, there’s really not much appetite to go forward without a lot more consideration of other maybe better alternatives.”

Ward 1 councilman Anthony Metivier said, “If I had to vote for that on Monday…I would have voted no, absolutely.”

“We’re in a tough spot, because we have this wonderful business that wants to stay in Queensbury, and expand,” Mr. Metivier said. “On the other side of it. We have the residents who obviously don’t want this, and I get it.”

Ward 3 councilman George Ferone did not return a voicemail seeking comment.

Town Supervisor John Strough said, “I was not one way or the other, and am still not one way or the other until I get the information in my hands.”

He said, “I ended the meeting by taking notes and saying that we would do some research on some of the stuff, get it typed up and send it out to the town staff and town attorney and see if they have any thoughts on any of those matters.”

Mr. Strough, reached on vacation, said he hadn’t prepared his letter yet.

He said there was “no urgency,” but added, “I know everybody would like to know, one way or the other, but we’ve got some work to do.”

Asked if he’d received feedback since the hearing, Mr. Strough said, “I got some phone calls from some realtors. And they’re looking to see if there’s a better spot for F.W. Webb and keep them in Queensbury. So I know they’re active out there.”

He added, “And I had one realtor ask me, that’d be a perfect place for apartments. Could I rezone it for apartments?”

Traffic concerns expressed during the hearing loom large for the Board.

Mr. McNulty said, “One thing that came across loud and clear is the entranceway on that corner” — going east from the Quaker-Ridge (Route 9L) intersection — “.335 miles on a turn.”

“A tractor trailer would have a problem with that…We heard about it from so many residents, about the problem with an 18-wheeler trying to turn left on the road. And of course you wouldn’t want to go right because then it’s…the residential roads of Glens Falls.”

Glens Falls Ward 2 Councilman Bob Landry said at the hearing that this portion of Quaker Road becomes a drag race, as drivers try to be first as it narrows from two lanes to one.

Mr. Metivier agreed. “It is an absolute drag race every single time that light turns green,” he said. “I get what people are saying. I see it.”

Mr. Metivier also said, “When I got up to the property, I was really shocked to see how much had been cleared. I don’t know what they were thinking when they did that. Just wish they could put some of the trees back in the back. I think this would have made this project a lot easier for a lot of people.”

Councilman Freer commented, “It’s a little more complicated than maybe at first glance. But, you know, when people say this decision is a — what’s the word — a no brainer, I disagree with that.

“There are complicated considerations….We think that F.W. is a good corporate citizen, we want to keep them in Queensbury. The ball got dropped and I think your representatives in Glens Falls were very articulate, and we listened.”

A board member suggested EDC Warren County has not done enough to seek possible sites for F.W. Webb’s expansion.

EDC President Jim Siplon had not returned a voicemail left for him Monday.

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