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Wednesday, 24 April 2013 22:59

Owner Plans to Convert Former Troy, New York, Auto Body Shop into Snack Shack

In our January issue, we published “Troy, NY, Rejects Repeated Request for Use Permit for Former Body Shop Location.” Search www.autobodynews.com/ northeast-news. Here’s an update on the story ...

The zoning board in the city of Troy in New York repeatedly rejected a special use permit for a local tow operator to open an auto repair shop at the location of a former body shop called Ward’s Auto Body off Fifth Avenue.

Instead, owner Jack Cox Jr. wants to open up a take-out food restaurant and ice cream stand on the same plot of land and call it “Jack’s Snack Shack.”

Jack Cox Jr. presented his plans to the Planning Commission to open the restaurant, which will serve fast food and ice cream, even though he said he doesn’t even like the idea. He still believes an auto body shop would be the right thing for the area, the Troy Record reported.

“We don’t really like it,” Cox said, who presented the plans on behalf of his father. “The bottom line is, the City of Troy tied our hands. With the automotive industry, we think it’s the best fit for the community at this time. It brings diversification to our base in the community.”

The project is being brought before the commission for site plan approval, according to Planning and Economic Development Commissioner Bill Dunne, who said this time around, the Cox family has come with a proposal that is allowed under the current zoning for the area.

“The code is the code,” Dunne said. “Either you’re an allowed use or you are not an allowed use. In what he previously wanted to do, it was not an allowed use, no matter what way you want to try and spin it.”

In January, Cox presented his plan to open up an auto body shop to the Zoning Board of Appeals with the hopes of also doing towing for the Police Department. Eventually, the board unanimously voted down the proposal.

The area in Lansingburgh is inundated with food service, according to Cox, which was why he believes it would not be a good idea to open up a new restaurant in the area. But he wasn’t concerned about his business so much as he was for the others in the area.

“If the city is comfortable with sacrificing a bunch of these smaller food and beverage industries then we are more than happy to go in that direction, but we feel it is a huge mistake,” Cox said. “We feel we will offer a better facility with the same food but at a better price.”

The plan for the restaurant is to have outdoor seating with picnic tables and potentially having a portion of them covered so people can still come during rainy days. The proposal states removing fencing to make room for vegetation. There will also be room for 15 offstreet parking spaces.

John Murphy, owner of Snowman Ice Cream and neighbor to the proposed Snack Shack, isn’t too worried about the competition, adding Cox would also be up against Chubby’s and Jimmy’s Pizzeria.

“[Lansingburgh] is saturated with food places but, hey, what’s another one?” Murphy said. “We have a loyal following with people out of the area as well. A business doesn’t survive on just one area.”

Murphy was very supportive of the Cox idea, even saying it was “a great idea.” He also complimented Jack Cox Sr., calling him, “One of the hardest working men” in the area.

“I wish him luck,” Murphy said before adding he was going to keep doing the same thing he does every year. “We’re just going to keep putting out a good product and good customer service.”

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