Market pulls plug on New Lebanon

Hannaford cancels plan for new store citing costs

NEW LEBANON – The Hannaford supermarket chain has withdrawn its applications for permits to build a new store here. The surprise announcement came Tuesday morning, September 13, a few days before the company was scheduled to appear at the town Planning Board meeting for final site plan approval.

The decision means the town still has no supermarket after a privately-owned market closed almost two years ago.

The company is also in the permitting process for a market in the Town of Livingston near the Bells Pond intersection of Routes 23, 9, 9H and 82. Michael Norton, a spokesman for Hannaford, said Tuesday that the decision to withdraw from New Lebanon was “specific to that location” and would not affect plans to build the store in Livingston.

Hannaford, which is owned by the Belgian multinational food retailing company Delhaize Group, has 47 stores around New York State.

Mr. Norton said the decision to abandon the New Lebanon project resulted from the company having developed “more detailed information on the required level of investment” for the store. “We did not take this position lightly,” he said. He added that no single factor led to the decision and that the company appreciated the local support it had received.

Town Supervisor Margaret Robertson learned of the decision Tuesday morning from company representatives. She said she was in that meeting with the company when news of the decision was published online.

Ms. Robertson praised the company, saying, “Hannaford went above and beyond what other companies would do,” specifically in attempts to accommodate requirements of the state Department of Environmental Conservation and the state Department of Transportation. The DOT in particular demanded changes in the plans for the store that were only resolved when elected state officials stepped in.

Although the store project had many supporters, not everyone is praising Hannaford. Ken Mooney, who owns the lot where Hannaford planned to build, said the supermarket chain had been “misleading” him and his wife, for two years. He said he had been doing “everything possible” to make the project possible, estimating that it had cost “probably a quarter-million dollars in lost revenues” and technical fees to pursue the plan, under which the couple was to lease the land to Hannaford for 50 years.

Mr. Mooney and his wife, Susan Brauser, as Brauser Group #4, have owned the property for six years. Other Brauser Group companies are also listed online as owning commercial parking lots and buildings in and around New York City, but Mr. Mooney said those ventures, “That’s another side of the family.”

“I travel up there all the time,” said Mr. Mooney. “We know the town needs a supermarket.” With Hannaford out of the picture, he said, “We’re going to look for somebody else.”

Shortly after the news broke online that Hannaford was withdrawing its applications for permits to build the market Assmeblyman Steve McLaughlin (R-108th), who represents New Lebanon, issued a statement expressing his disappointment that the company is pulling out and sharply criticizing the role of state government in the permitting process. “Once again, a potential employer has been scared away by New York’s high taxes, job-killing regulations and overall hostility to business,” McLaughlin said in the release. When transportation department requirements stalled progress on the market he lobbied the agency to obtain approval, and the assemblyman said he plans to work with other retailers to use the site so that “New Lebanon will no longer be considered a ‘food desert’ by the USDA.

“Families in New Lebanon shouldn’t have to drive 34 miles round trip to buy groceries,” Mr. McLaughlin said.

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