Town Board seeks guid­ance on plan for build­ing halt

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Wil­liam J. Kem­ble news@free­manon­

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.


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