UTICA, NY (WUTR/WFXV/WPNY) – In August of 2022 convenience store and gas chain Stewart’s Shops applied to build a new location at 2634 Genesee Street in Utica.

“Since then, there have been appearances at the scenic historic preservation commission and the zoning board of appeals the zoning board of appeals did render favorable decisions in each of the variances that were requested we are optimistic with a site plan that is appropriately zoned and dimensionally meets the requirements that we will be considered for a vote,” said Chuck Marshall, Land Development and Permitting at Stewart’s Shops.

However, the proposed project has had some push back from the community. Third District Councilperson Celeste Friend says the vast majority of her constituents do not want this in their neighborhood.

“People are worried about environmental concerns of gas in their neighborhood people are worried about the traffic implications,” said Celeste Friend, Utica Common Council.

Celeste explains she’s in favor of another Stewart’s in Utica, but not at this site because it will change the character of the neighborhood.

“You’re going to be able to see a gas station from several blocks away as you drive south on South Genesee Street,” said Friend.

Right across the street from the site, a speedway gas station, causing residents to question why another one is needed, with some stating that Stewart’s should buy the Speedway, however Marshall explains that is not possible.

“That’s a non-conforming use its actually inappropriately zoned for where it is so Stewart’s couldn’t actually acquire it and couldn’t go through the process of changing that zoning,” said Marshall.

As of right now, it is not likely that the company will look at another location here in Utica, but Marshall tells me residents voiced similar opposition was shown when attempting to locate in East Utica, and he says the Culver Ave site is a success from their perspective and hopes for the same outcome on South Genesee Street.

Despite the debate the Utica Planning Board has the final say. The issue is on the agenda for their meeting Thursday Jan. 19.