The May 29 town of Newburgh workshop meeting featured two major senior housing development presentations before the town board.
The Gardiner Ridge development offers a senior housing component with a preliminary approval of as many as 144 units. There are two sites being considered for the affordable senior development, either of which would have provisions made for a community resource center on site specifically for seniors. All units would be built to be handicap accessible.
The developers first need to discuss with New York State the potential of a tax exemption program in order to afford the project, such as a PILOT (Payment in Lieu of Taxes) program. Since it is still in its early stages, there was not enough information for the town board to make any decisions on the project besides wishing to be informed of the state’s comments on the two proposed site options.
“I’m willing to have them go to the state; I’d like to definitely hear the feedback,” said councilwoman Betty Greene. “Just about everything the state tells you, we want to know.”
“You have to remember, whatever the decision will be, if it’s going forward we are not only looking out for the town now, but the future town boards that will have to live with this down the road,” added Greene.
The Polo Club Senior Housing project would consist of as many as 256 units off of Route 300, located just south of Jeanne Drive and north of Gardnertown Farm. At least 28 units would be specifically set aside for senior residents, the rest would be market-rate apartments. The complex as proposed would offer a mix of one and two-bedroom apartments. According to a 2018 published article the non-senior apartments would cost between $1,500 - $1,800, for single and two-bedroom apartments respectively.
Some town board members questioned the need for so many new senior residencies. One senior housing complex located on Stewart Avenue has a waiting list of 70 people. But, councilman Scott Manley discovered, those were for single bedroom apartments, with two-bedroom apartments left available for rent.
“The problem is nobody wants the two-bedrooms. Most of the people on the waiting list are still trying to sell their house, and they want studios or one-bedrooms. They can’t rent the two-bedrooms,” explained Manley. He added, “I don’t know when this ends, because almost every single apartment complex seems to be asking for the same thing.”
Attorney for the town Mark Taylor responded that the town board had set a precedent for approving similar applications on such zoned sites. The board could change the zoning laws, but he stated that wouldn’t be fair to this particular applicant.
“That is part of a larger zoning picture, as to potentially amending the code and its incentives for this particular project,” said Taylor.
However, other councilmembers agreed that there is a need for senior housing in the town. “We have more senior citizens in the town of Newburgh than any other municipality in Orange County,” said Greene.
“The time is right, and there is a need for this type of project. I have the financial wherewithal behind me to complete,” stated David Weinberg, Polo Club project applicant.
The Polo Club has already been before the planning board for several years, and is currently in the process of obtaining a SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review Act) for the federal wetlands located on the site.
The town board decided to ask the planning board for more information before moving forward on the project.