Planning board approves auto dealership permit

Thomas Suydam of Johnstown, standing, addresses the Johnstown City Planning Board during a public hearing on an auto dealership application Tuesday at City Hall. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — A permit application for a new retail pre-owned auto sales dealership on Route 30A was approved by the city Planning Board Tuesday, despite some concerns expressed about traffic.

The board approved Carol Harper’s retail dealership project — Route 30A Jumbo Lot 2 — at 111 S. Comrie Ave. She runs a similar Montgomery County “Jumbo Lot” retail car operation in Nelliston. She will initially stock and display about 30 pre-owned vehicles in Johnstown, ranging from 2005 to 2015 models.

Thomas Suydam of 601 S. William St. — who owns property at 105 S. Comrie Ave. — expressed some concerns at a public hearing. He said he wasn’t against Harper’s project.

“I don’t want to jeopardize Mrs. Harper’s plans to go forward,” he said.

Suydam outlined some concerns as the owner of property for which he said he will be a “neighbor” of the new car lot. He said his property is on the north side of the Johnstown Moose Lodge driveway. He said exiting that driveway is “always tricky,” especially going left.

“It’s a hard driveway to get out of, especially when there’s crappy traffic,” Suydam said. “I don’t look forward to having a lot of people. I’d like to be able to get in and out of that Moose driveway in one piece.”

Suydam’s other concerns included high snow banks as a traffic hazard, wetlands in the area, and a hope there isn’t more traffic because he already rents a lot to nearby James Chevrolet.

Harper thanked Suydam for not trying to block the project, but noted she has no control over traffic.

City Fire Chief Bruce Heberer said there are state-designated wetlands in that area, but they don’t affect Harper’s project.

Board member Fredrick Franko asked about lighting for the dealership.

Harper said an existing building at her site will have lighting.

“I don’t think we need [additional lighting],” she said. “I think that’s going to be sufficient.”

Franko urged Harper to stay within plans for the number of vehicles.

“I’ve got a problem with a proliferation of all these gypsy car lots all over the place,” Franko said.

Board Chairman Peter K. Smith mentioned car “sprawl,” but added, “There’s nothing illegal about selling cars in the city of Johnstown.”

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Chad Fleck

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