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Residents voice concern over proposed Stewart’s Shop in south Utica

Thomas Caputo
Staff writer
Posted 9/15/22

A proposal to build a Stewart’s Shops gas station and convenience store in south Utica has raised concerns with local residents.

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Residents voice concern over proposed Stewart’s Shop in south Utica


UTICA — A proposal to build a Stewart’s Shops gas station and convenience store in south Utica has raised concerns with local residents.

The proposed location would be taking over the site of the former Raspberries Café, 2634 Genesee St., establishing competition with the Speedway gas station and convenience store directly across the street. The proposal would also purchase and tear down a residential property on the corner of Genesee St. and Woodlawn Ave. West to create a second entrance and exit to the location.

Residents in south Utica have defined their district as a place with distinct character and fear that by adding another gas station, it will start to become more commercialized. At the Utica Common Council meeting held last Wednesday, Sept. 7, residents took the opportunity to voice their concern with the council during the public comment period.

“In the past month, we’ve collected, within the footprint of the proposed Stewart['s] gas station/convenience store, over 300 signatures,” said south Utica resident Michael Brigano. “Those 300 signatures are basically in opposition to the Stewart’s [Shop].”

Elaine Hage, another resident of south Utica, questioned why the neighborhood would potentially receive another gas station.

“There are so many other places in Utica that are begging to be developed, so why would you want to erode a residential area,” Hage asked.

“We voted for you and we are in your custodial care,” Hage added, reminding the council. “We want you to make the right decision and that’s why I’m here. I’m here because I just think there’s a better decision.”

Third District Councilor Celeste Friend, who’s district includes the proposed Stewart’s Shop location, has been listening to the concerns of her constituents and has introduced legislation to amend the city’s zoning ordinance to disallow new gas stations in neighborhood mixed-use districts, like south Utica.

According to Utica’s Code of Ordinances, neighborhood mixed-use districts, or NMU’s, allow for a mix of residential dwelling units, commercial services, parks and community facilities. This district reflects the walkable and historic nature of Utica’s neighborhoods. Commercial uses in the NMU district compliment the dense residential neighborhoods in the adjacent residential mixed neighborhoods.

Charles Marshall, a real estate representative from Stewart’s Shops, spoke after Brigano and Hage during the public comment period to defend their proposal and to question the timing and legitimacy of Friend’s legislation.

“I’m concerned about the surprise of this, having just submitted our application and subsequent supplements,” Marshall said.

“I just find it problematic that we submit an application and then a subsequent application comes in to eliminate the project by uniformly changing the zoning,” Marshall added. “We did seek those properties via fair arm-length transactions. Those are willing sellers who entered into our contracts knowing the process that was involved.”

Both the Utica Common Council and Stewart’s Shops will soon be appearing before the city’s Planning Board. The council needs to seek the board’s opinion before they can vote on Friend’s legislation and representatives from Stewart’s need to request a site plan approval from the board before they can continue with the application process.

While Friend believes that Stewart’s Shops is a good company, she takes issue with them establishing a presence in her district.

“I don’t think that gas stations belong in residential neighborhoods and this is a residential neighborhood,” Friend said. “This is an NMU designation. I think that we should not be building new gas stations in residential neighborhoods.”


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