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‘Big Mike’ offers new proposal for site

March 15, 2008
By KAYLEIGH KARUTIS, The Leader-Herald
JOHNSTOWN — Big Mike’s owner Mike McGrail said Friday he will approach the town Planning Board with a plan to create more parking at his food vending stand, an effort he hopes will bring an end to months of negotiations.

McGrail said he is willing to tear down a structure on his property to make room for 20 additional parking spots. McGrail has in the past leased the building to a shoe salesman.

“Personally, I would love to fight [the town], but from a business point of view, I have to take it down and go forward,” McGrail said.

At past Planning Board meetings, McGrail said he was willing to consider tearing down the structure but wanted to explore other options first. Now that he has decided to remove the structure, McGrail said, he is not happy about the decision but is proposing it because he wants to move forward with his business.

“Now I have to put a gentleman out of business and tear down a good home,” McGrail said.

McGrail originally was approached by town officials after he built a storage shed. He says he received verbal approval from the former code enforcer.

Current Town Code Enforcer Ryan Fagan in October said McGrail needed a permit. He issued McGrail a stop-work order and fined him $900, which McGrail paid.

Further discussion between the board and McGrail revealed parking was the main issue in dispute.

At a November meeting, the majority of the board said McGrail needed 23 parking spots. Board members cited safety issues as the reason for the additional spots.

Fulton County Senior Planner Sean Geraghty, who previously said several of the parking spots customers have been using do not appear to be on McGrail’s property, said he thinks the board will be happy with McGrail’s new proposal.

“If Mike is coming back with a new proposal that calls for the demolition of that residence and he can create a parking lot off of the public right of way, my belief is the Planning Board will probably be very pleased with that,” Geraghty said.

McGrail will present the fourth and latest version of his proposal to the Planning Board on April 8.

“I have no idea what I will do if they don’t accept this proposal. This has cost me a fortune for the engineers and lawyers,” McGrail said.

Neither Fagan nor Town Supervisor Roy Palmateer could be reached for comment.

Kayleigh Karutis covers rural Fulton County news. She can be reached by e-mail at

Article Photos

(The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan)

Mike McGrail, owner of Big Mike’s on North Pine Street in the town of Johnstown, poses for a photo Friday. McGrail is reluctantly proposing to tear down the building he owns in the background to make more parking space for his patrons.



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