Building ban finds support at speak-out
Speakers favoring a proposed moratorium on new development on state Route 299 east of the village clearly outnumbered opponents during a public hearing on the proposed nine-month ban.
The session on Thursday included eight people who wanted reviews of projects halted while new zoning regulations are developed.
“This section of town is a vital location for bicyclists and pedestrians, and it serves as a main entry point for those entering the town from the east,” said Peter Kaufman, chairman of the New Paltz Bicycle-Pedestrian Committee.
“Currently, those who traverse this section on bike, foot, wheelchairs and skateboard are confronted with dangerous and unfriendly conditions,” he said. “These conditions will not improve and they will ... deteriorate if any development is approved without careful attention to infrastructure that supports nonmotorized transportation.”
Under the proposed moratorium, about 25 parcels would be included in a “gateway” area covering slightly more than a mile of Route 299, going east from the ShopRite plaza. Town officials would not be able to review any site plan, special permit application, area variance, use variance or subdivision proposal, except for residential development of five units or less and nonresidential structures of 2,500 square feet or less.
The moratorium is being sought in the wake of an application to construct a CVS pharmacy and a Five Guys Burger and Fries restaurant at the intersection of Route 299 and North Putt Corners Road.
The moratorium was opposed by only one speaker, but town Councilman Marty Irwin also read a letter from a resident against the proposed moratorium.
Among proposed projects that would be affected by the moratorium is the Wildberry Lodge water park and hotel, which has property on South Ohioville Road. Owner Steve Turk said he was upset that his application for site plan approval might be put on hold after nearly 2-½ years of reviews.
“During the past 12 months, our team has been interviewing capital investment partners to participate in the Wildberry Lodge project,” Turk said. “In May, the early drumbeats of a moratorium were heard. The drumbeats were loud
enough to elicit concern from my investment community . ... Now the drumbeats have grown louder, and my investors have fallen off one by one.”
Turk said his own investment has included purchasing the 56-acre property and spending nearly $750,000 to develop plans.
Several people at Thursday’s hearing noted there is no specific goal cited in the moratorium proposal.
“I think if we’re doing it for nine months, we’ve got to set some goals up front about all you can accomplish in that time period,” said town Planning Board Chairman Michael Calimano.
The hearing has been recessed until Dec. 15.