Area officials view Southside auto yard as potential turn-off to developers


Anthony Altieri, owner of Altieri’s Auto of Amsterdam, took a pragmatic view last week in regards to a recent citation of his auto yard by the city codes department, and said he is willing to work with city and county officials to come up with a solution. Alteiri runs an auto-body repair shop on Erie Street on the city’s south side, and also maintains a separate yard which contains approximately 100 autos just down the road. The yard is located between the banks of the Mohawk River and the Erie Canalway Trail bike path.

The property the yard occupies was in use for years before it was zoned as a waterfront area in 1993. Property owners had until 1996 to file for a special use permit if the property didn’t comply with the new zoning laws. Altieri said he was never aware the property was in violation and never got a complaint until now from any city officials.

Mayor Michael Villa said he initiated the move after hearing concerns from potential developers about the auto yard. He said that the yard is visible from the thruway exit, especially in the months when there are no leaves on the trees. He also suggested that the overhead view can be a factor in the initial impression a developer gets when researching an area.

Overhead view of Altieri’s auto yard from Google Maps

“Today when investors come and look at a site, they take the entire area into consideration,” said Villa.

Montgomery County Business Development Center CEO Ken Rose concurred with Villa’s view of the situation and said, “The mayor has been at a couple of site visits with our office when the automobile storage yard and a couple of other properties in that area were mentioned by the prospective developer as potential problem areas that need to be addressed.”

Villa said, “When they make statements like that, that’s what opened my eyes and made me say that we had to do something about this.”

Finding developers for the former Chalmer’s property has been a priority for Villa since taking office at the beginning of the year.

“We have to do what’s in the best interest of the city. And we can’t be our own worst enemy when it comes to economic growth,” said Villa. “With us investing all this money into the waterway to try to make us attractive, to try to turn the tide where we begin to see economic growth – the southside has tremendous potential – it was time for me to make that decision to send codes there.”

“I totally get where the city is coming from. I don’t want to dampen any future plans,” said Altieri. “I do want to see the southside grow in a positive way. And the city is in the process of helping me find a place where I could possibly relocate.”

Altieri said he would have preferred to hear personally from a city official before the citation was issued in July, a step Villa said in hindsight he wished he had taken. However Altieri said he holds “no animosity” in regards to the issue.

“It is what it is. It’s business. It’s just another obstacle I have to get around, and I’m sure I’ll get through it,” said Altieri. “I’m optimistic, I’m not negative in any way.”

The city planning board declined to issue a special use permit for the property at a meeting on August 18 because the owners had not presented a required site plan. The board gave the owners 60 days to come up with the plan, however Villa said he is doubtful that there is a case that would warrant the board issuing a special use permit.

Villa suggested that the property, once cleaned up, could be very valuable to the owners given it’s location between the Mohawk River and the bike path.

Altieri said he is looking at all his options, and may possibly submit a site plan, but said the most likely solution is to remove the autos from the yard.

Tim Becker

Tim Becker is the owner of Anthem Websites Inc. which publishes The Compass. He serves as both editor and a writer.