Town Board seeks guidance on plan for building halt
NEW PALTZ >> The Town Board will guidance from the town Planning Board and the Ulster County Planning Department on a proposed moratorium that would temporarily ban new development along a section of state Route 299 east of the village.
Approval to move the moratorium language forward came in a 3-2 vote during a board meeting Thursday. Councilmen Jeff Logan and Marty Irwin voted “no.”
Town Supervisor Neil Bettez said the proposed moratorium is being considered because residents have asked for zoning regulations to be revised in the “gateway” area from the Thruway toll plaza to the village line.
“One of the things that the towns are uniquely allowed to do is control their own zoning,” Bettez said.
“We have a right as a community to decide what we want our towns to look like,” he said. “We do that through zoning, and ... it’s not up to the Town Board to decide what the town looks like. We do that through feedback, and, if we do pass a moratorium, during that moratorium, the process will go through many public hearings and the people of the town of New Paltz will have a say in what they don’t like about the current zoning.”
Under the proposed moratorium, town officials would not be allowed to review any site plan, special permit application, area variance, use variance or subdivision except for residential development of five units or less and nonresidential structures of 2,500 square feet or less.
Logan spent nearly 17 minutes reading a list of problems with instituting a moratorium, followed by another 15 minutes spent trying to argue those points with board members.
“What the supervisor is asking us to do is to submit a law that we have not discussed in public, a law that we have not discussed with ... our building inspectors, we have not discussed this with our Planning Board chairman,” he said.
Tension between Logan and moratorium supporters was evident after he pressed them to cite their reasons for seeking the moratorium.
Councilman Daniel Torres particularly objected to being harassed into the type of discussion that often has Logan interrupting responses and criticizing positions without letting other board members finish statements.
“I’m not going to play Jeff Logan ‘Jeopardy,’” Torres said. “Nobody ever wins that game.”
Torres said he supports considering a moratorium because there has been significant discussion about it at board meetings and it has been recommended by a committee.
“We consistently have these conversations, time and time again, about projects that come before our community, where we have community members who come to rally against things,” he said.
“What we want to do is finally be proactive about these projects, to be able to identify what kind of things we want here,” Torres said. “... What we’re looking at doing is hit the pause button and to re-evaluate those areas, find something that we think is better suited for our community today in 2016, and to stop that continuing rally approach.”
The moratorium is being proposed in response to community objections to an application for development of a CVS pharmacy and a Five Guys Burger and Fries restaurant at the intersection of state Route 299 and North Putt Corners Road.
An ad-hoc town committee concluded that much of the proposed development in the gateway area was not anticipated in the town’s 1996 Comprehensive Plan, which is the foundation of the local zoning code.
“This area is the primary gateway to our community,” committee members said. “Virtually all of us who live, work/commute, go to school and visit New Paltz routinely navigate the Route 299 corridor from Ohioville to Putt Corners [roads]. Simply put, how this part of our community develops affects us all.”
A public hearing on the proposed moratorium is scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 20 in the community center on Veterans Drive.