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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, September 3, 2009

Timothy Stanton

By Saranac Hale Spencer

NEW SCOTLAND — Making his first run for public office, Timothy Stanton was compelled to seek a seat on the town board when it appeared to him earlier this summer that all the candidates to be on the ballot this November would be like-minded on the issue of development.

“People needed a choice and there wasn’t going to be a choice,” said the long-time farmer.

“We don’t have a supply,” he said of the town’s water situation.  “We’ve got to work with what’s there,” he said, explaining that the town could drill wells and pipe the water to residents.  He cited the residential Tall Timbers project, which planned on drilling wells, as an example. 

Also, the town could continue negotiating with the neighboring town of Bethlehem, which owns a reservoir located in New Scotland, Stanton said.  Bethlehem has an agreement with New Scotland to sell water to parcels within a certain distance of its pipeline, but the decades-old infrastructure in some areas, like the hamlet of New Salem, is crumbling and neither town has been willing to take on the expense of fixing the system.

The town’s comprehensive plan doesn’t need to be redone, Stanton said, but it could be updated.

“We want to maintain the rural character,” but also encourage commercial development, he said of balancing the recommendations in the plan.  Of how he’d like to see the former Bender melon farm at the developed, Stanton said, “I almost want to say anything we can get, but I won’t say that.”

That parcel, located in the commercial zone, has been used largely as agricultural land but has been at the center of controversy since Cazenovia-based Sphere Development proposed building a Target-anchored shopping center on the land at the intersection of routes 85 and 85A.

Stanton cited Stuyvesant Plaza in Guilderland as an example of something that would work well in that area by creating a tax base without looking like the heavily developed Wolf Road in Colonie.  It’s a large piece of land, he said of the roughly 200-acre parcel, so a commercial development could be set back from the road.

“I would hate to limit it to just small things,” Stanton said.  He is opposed to a limit on the allowable size for retail stores in New Scotland — a defining issue among the candidates.

Agriculture should “definitely be promoted,” said Stanton.  He is a twelfth generation American, Stanton said, and he farms his family’s land in Greenville as well as the farm he has owned with his wife, Colleen, in Feura Bush since 1985.  He graduated from Kent, a prep school in Connecticut, before going to Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

The best way to encourage agriculture is to keep it in the agriculturally zoned areas of town, he said, without eating into the commercial zone.

“We ought to stick to what we’ve got,” he said of zoning in town.  Clustering development close to areas that have already been developed, like hamlets and the village of Voorheesville, sounds good in theory, Stanton said, but he concluded, “People like to drive too much.”

As for process, Stanton said, “Input from citizens is great [but]… we’ve got to be civil about it.”  Some of the meetings in New Scotland have gotten out of hand, he said, and “that’s what you can’t let happen.”

The town board is “answerable to the entire town,” Stanton said, not just to the people who show up at meetings.  Those who have been coming to meetings since the development controversy broke, and have been vocal in their disapproval of large-scale retail developments, are an element of the town, but not the whole of it, he said.

As for the planning board, Stanton said, its job is to work on planning and make recommendations to the town board.  The planning board is “more of a committee than a board,” he said.

Although Stanton is a Republican, he tells people to vote for him on the New Scotland FIRST line to send a message that people are unhappy with the Republican Party.  (See related story.)

“Political parties should have a platform and their candidates should reflect that platform,” he said of the role of parties.  In this election, the GOP has endorsed incumbent Republican Douglas LaGrange, who has also gotten the Democratic line.

Asked why he is seeking the Republican line in the primary, Stanton said, “I’m a Republican.  I’ve always been a Republican.”

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