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Plan for new Stewart's sparks controversy

WARRENSBURG - Stewart's Shoppes is seeking to relocating its Main St. convenience store to a new site on Stewart Farrar Ave. across from the First Presbyterian Church - and the proposal is not without its detractors.

Stewart's proposed new store would be constructed on the 1.2-acre property now owned by Hudson Headwaters Health Network, across Main St. from the Grand Union strip mall and Emerson House Bed & Breakfast.

Stewart's Shoppes official Tom Lewis said Monday that his company has signed a purchase contract to purchase the land from Hudson Headwaters. The plot extends from Elm to Main St. along the northern side of Stewart Farrar Ave.

The property includes the former U.S. Post office, which HHHN has used for 15 years or so as a billing operations office for their 11 health centers. The rest of the land is now used primarily for parking.

The purchase contract is contingent on a zoning change, which would be a decision of the town board.

Some residents have already expressed opposition to the proposed development, noting that the store would mean yet another new commercial operation in a historic district, and invade a residential neighborhood, creating problems with traffic, litter, noise and fumes.

But Lewis responded that such problems would be minimal and that the new Stewart's store would be an asset to the town.

The HHHN billing office would be demolished to make way for a new Stewart's store, built with Adirondack-style architecture, plus a multi-pump fueling island set nearer Main St. than the store. The space on the property, Lewis said, may allow an additional office building to be included in the plaza.

Lewis said changing locations and building a new store was undertaken to allow for better on-site traffic flow and a more accommodating experience for customers. The proposed site is about double the size of the existing store's site.

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