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Showdown Tuesday over Stewart's site

WARRENSBURG - For many weeks, the issue of whether Stewart's should be allowed to construct a new convenience store with four gas pumps on Stewart Farrar Ave. has been debated at length in diners and in local residents' dining rooms.

The opinions - of whether the relocation is an encroachment into an historic residential district and poses pedestrian safety hazards, or it's merely a progressive change - have been aired for months before government panels and amongst neighbors.

Next Tuesday at 7 p.m., the issue will go before the Warrensburg Town Planning Board, and it's not unlikely that the issue will be settled one way or another. Their decision may result in the uptown neighborhood's character changing permanently.

Stewart's Shops plans to build the 2,568-square-feet convenience store - about the size of its existing one on lower Main St. - in the middle of the plot that extends from Main to Elm Streets off Stewart Farrar Ave. The store's fuel island would be positioned diagonally near the Main and Stewart Farrar intersection. A total of 32 parking spaces would surround the store and the former Hudson Headwaters Health Network administration building, which will be retained to host offices for another enterprise.

Stewart's site plan was submitted to the board last week. Its present version depicts a boxy store with merely a few straightforward columns as architectural details, differing from the earlier proposals in front of the town board. Stewart's representatives said earlier this year the store would resemble the Adirondack-style store that was built about a year ago in Lake George, but the new plans don't reflect that.

This week, members of the Warrensburg Historical Society met with interested citizens and legal counsel to see how they could halt the use of the plot for a convenience store.

A substantial number of residents have aligned against the store relocation, citing that the move would mean a commercial operation in a historic district, as well as causing traffic, safety, litter and noise problems in a primarily residential neighborhood.

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