With the Lloyd building moratorium about a month old, representatives of eight development projects are seeking waivers from the Town Board to allow their clients projects to move forward. Last week, after receiving letters from each of the projects, the Town Board scheduled public hearings on them for February 19 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall, 12 Church St, Highland. These hearings are open to the public and will allow residents an opportunity to address any of their concerns to the Town Board.
The moratorium, which was passed by the Town Board on January 15, 2020 by 4 yes votes to 1 no vote, states that it is designed to temporarily halt large scale development projects for a period of 6 months, with the possibility of two, 3 month extensions, if needed. The wording of the moratorium allows the Town Board to grant waivers at their discretion.
The Town Board said the reason for the moratorium is to allow the town the time to update and refine their Comprehensive Plan [last done in 2013] and to consider amending portions of the town’s zoning code. The board has stated that the idea for a moratorium was sparked by a number of proposed large development projects that are mostly targeting the southern end of town near the intersection of Route 9W and Chapel Hill Road.
A common thread that all of the developers cite is that a 6 month moratorium would cause them “extreme hardship,” their business would be “substantially harmed,” and they would suffer a “devastating loss of income and ability to grow business.” The developers also claim there would be a “loss of jobs,” a need to “see return on investment” and “practical difficulty in the anticipated construction schedule of the project.” They all point out that they have paid significant amounts of money into escrows as well as for experts they have hired.
The eight proposed projects seeking waivers are: an Auto Zone store, D & D Auto Parts [a 3,600 sq/ft storage building], Joyful Moments Childcare, RTH Holdings LLC [a home staging warehouse], Michael Torsone Memorial Funeral Home [a 40’ x 50’ addition], P WE Holdings LLC [restaurant/catering facility], the Village in the Hudson Valley [a senior continuing care retirement community], and GlidePath [a battery storage facility].
One project, the Village in the Hudson Valley, is not only asking for their project to be exempt from the moratorium for similar economic reasons but also does not want to be subject to, “any prospective zoning amendments which would negatively impact the project.”
Town attorney Sean Murphy said the Town Board has been very consistent in their reasoning, stating they enacted a moratorium in order to give the town time to review their zoning codes, to update the town’s Comprehensive Plan and to make sure that it is consistent with zoning. The board said that a moratorium allows the town to accomplish these goals.
Murphy pointed out that once the town approves their Comprehensive Plan, with expected changes and updates, the town’s zoning codes have to be amended so they are in agreement with it.