East...west...or both? On Wednesday, the Stewart's Shops controversy will be settled. The Utica Common Council meets at 7 with the hopes of ending the debate. But some feel there are still unanswered questions.
Since February Stewart’s has been interested in a property on Culver Avenue in east Utica. But that plan didn't go over smoothly. Some residents and businesses displaying signs protesting the east Utica location. But some west Utica residents asking why not their neighborhood. Both residents from east and west joined together to protest at a common council meeting on May 7--their voices were heard loud and clear.
“I applaud them for being out here. I support them. I will be leading the charge. I will be next to, behind and in front of them,” says Councilman Joe Marino, 4th ward.
The common council passed a non-binding resolution to keep east Utica residential and to support bringing some type of convenience store to west Utica. The decision then went to the city planning board meeting on May 14. Stewart's Representative Chuck Marshall announcing Stewart’s plan to not only build in east Utica but also on state and court street in west Utica.
“This is breaking news. We will go through and survey the property, develop plans similar to the ones on Culver Ave. And we hope to submit for the June planning board and go through the processes simultaneously,” says Chuck Marshall, Stewart’s representative.
The planning board voted to recommend both locations to the common council. But with the west utica location now on the table...questions began to surface. Would Stewart’s come to west Utica if the east Utica location is voted down?
“I wouldn't say contingent but it was our intention to go through the process simultaneously for both locations,” says Marshall.
For some involved in the debate, the proposed west Utica location doesn't change their platform.
“We don't have to damage a residential neighborhood for Stewart’s to succeed. We can succeed. We can have Stewart’s being a success and we can have our residential neighborhoods being preserved,” says Tim Trent, of west Utica.
The common council will vote on the auto overlay rezoning in east Utica on Wednesday.