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N.H. board denies zoning change

Alexis Manore
Staff writer
email / twitter
Posted 12/10/22

After a lengthy public hearing, the New Hartford Town Board has denied a request to change Sangertown Square’s zoning from strictly commercial to commercial with a residential overlay.

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N.H. board denies zoning change


NEW HARTFORD  — After a lengthy public hearing, the New Hartford Town Board has denied a request to change Sangertown Square’s zoning from strictly commercial to commercial with a residential overlay, which would have allowed for the construction of an apartment complex on the property. 

David Aitken, director of government affairs for Pyramid Management Group, and Luke Condon, director of operations for Pyramid, gave a presentation prior to the public hearing to provide further information to attendees. 

Pyramid has constructed apartment complexes at other malls, like Crossgates in Albany and Kingston Collection in Kingston, Mass. 

Aitken said that Pyramid is branching into non-retail options at malls because of the changes to the shopping mall and retail industries. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a huge increase in e-commerce sales, which has led to less in-person shopping, like at malls. 

At Sangertown Square, two of its anchor stores — JC Penney and Macy’s — closed amid the pandemic, leaving Target and Boscov’s. Aitken said potential locations for the apartments would be at the empty Macy’s or JC Penney stores. 

Aitken said that many of the complexes are highly amenitized, with dog parks, pools and high-quality amenities. He said that the proposed apartments at Sangertown would be aimed toward young professionals and empty nesters.  

Town Supervisor Paul Miscione provided further information about stormwater management measures that are taking place in areas around the mall property, which Sangertown is helping to fund.   

“These projects for stormwater are not affordable without everyone working together as a partnership,” Miscione said. “I just want everybody to know where we are, and that Sangertown is working with the town on stormwater.” 

He said the proposed building locations are already on pavement, which means that they will not exacerbate any existing stormwater issues. 

“We’ve invested the last six or seven years into all these projects, spending millions of dollars. We wouldn’t take on something like this if it didn’t help,” Miscione said.  

Public Support 

One resident said that the apartments would be a place where her son, who is a Utica University student, would like to live.  

“I thought it’s a win-win, when I first heard about it,” she said. “I thought about how it’s exciting for the future. … “My son, who is 20 at Utica [University], I want to keep him in the area, I want him to use his education locally, this is something that would be attractive to an up-and-coming college graduate.”  

A long-time vendor at Sangertown said he is for the proposed apartments because he thinks they will help the mall. 

“I’ve been there for 20 years, and I’ve seen a lot of changes,” he said. “Malls aren’t thriving like they once were, so if we can do anything we can to help them out, these apartments would be great.” 

“If something happens to the mall, where are we going to go, Destiny, Crossgates? He asked. “I think it’s important to the area that we have an indoor place to shop, dine, and enjoy life.”   

Another business owner at Sangertown said he supports any project that will help Sangertown. 

“Any project that will fill those big, empty stores in the mall will be better,” he said. “Nobody wants to live near an abandoned mall. We need something to fill the empty space.”  

A resident pointed out the issues that malls all across the country have had, which has forced many to close. He said he supports this effort to keep Sangertown from closing. 

“Let’s not destroy this community,” he said. “The only thing [Pyramid is] asking is, ‘What can we do to increase revenue, increase sales?’ And I understand everyone’s concerns, I have kids, I have my parents, of course I’m nervous, but we can’t just let another mall shut down.” 

Public Opposition 

Many of the dissenters live in the area by Sangertown, and were concerned about increased noise, crime rates and were afraid that the project would cause the value of their homes to decrease.  

When questioned about the potential of increased calls to the police and fire departments, Aitken said the New Hartford police and fire departments have examined the plans and have not had any issues. 

Miscione said that there would likely be more crime and theft at the mall if the empty JCPenney and Macy’s were filled by other stores. 

Another resident asked what could be done to keep the neighborhoods surrounding the mall more safe and private if the apartments were to be built. 

Miscione said that the zoning could be capped to allow only a certain number of apartments, and that at the planning stage, Pyramid could be required to put up fencing between the mall and nearby homes and to add outdoor lighting around the mall. 

“I live one house from the mall, and we have a lot of noise, a lot of car alarms that go off, people steal from the mall and run through our neighborhood, my property value is going to go down,” a resident said.   

Other residents expressed concern that the apartments would disrupt the neighborhoods by Sangertown. 

“When we first moved here, it was a nice place to live, it was all senior citizens,” a resident said. “Now it’s Section 8. And I’m afraid that this project, down the road, it could be 20 years, it could happen too. If you go down our road, people throw bottles, they throw their trash, and we have to go pick it up. It’s not fair.” 

Ward 1 Councilor James J. Messa said he would rather see the empty anchor stores filled by other stores or restaurants. 

Condon said that Pyramid has been speaking with retailers that have been growing, like Trader Joe’s, but that having two anchor store spaces that have been vacant for two years is challenging to attract potential tenants. 

Following the end of the public hearing, the board voted 2-to-3, ultimately denying the zone text amendment request. 


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