Last week the Village in the Hudson Valley modified their request for a waiver and is now asking the Town Board to allow them to construct only part of their project- a 135 bed Assisted Living Facility- instead of moving forward with the entire senior housing development project. The Assisted Living facility is proposed close to Route 9W, just north of Mayer Drive.
Project attorney John Furst, of Catania, Mahon & Rider, addressed the reasons of the revision.
“This will allow the applicant [Owen Mark Sanderson] and the Planning Board to work together on the design issues during that Planning Board review process,” he said, pointing out that, “Assisted Living facilities are permitted by a Special Use Permit in the zone and site approval from the Planning Board.”
Furst said the facility provides tax rateables, full time jobs in the health and administrative fields, construction jobs, “and high quality medical supervision for area residents.”
Furst said a traffic light would be installed at the intersection of Mayer Drive and Route 9W and the developer has designed a wider route 9W in front of the facility to allow turn only lanes. Since Route 9W is a state road the Department of Transportation would have to weigh in on any change to the roadway.
Furst said the project is targeted for people with an annual income of $60,000, which is the median income in Ulster County.
“So they’re trying to control the costs and essentially any further delay on the Assisted Living facility will price it out,” he said.
Furst noted that Comprehensive Plan Committee plans to allow this type of project in their final document.
In a previous letter to the town, Furst wrote that not only is the project seeking a waiver from the moratorium, but to, “any prospective zoning amendments which would negatively impact the project.”
Furst has pointed out that to date Sanderson has invested approximately $650,000 in application, escrow and consultant fees. If a waiver is not approved the, “pending financing application with HUD [Housing and Urban Development Agency] will be lost. The delay will result in new fees and reports as well as substantial delays in construction. This in turn will require an increase in the projected monthly charges to potential residents of the Assisted Living facility.”
Furst has stated that the monthly charge would be $4,250, or $51,000 a year. If an individual’s income is at the median $60,000 mark, only $9,000 is left to the individual for other expenses.
Furst said they are proposing the building at two stories, but quickly amended this, stating that they are actually proposing a 35 foot maximum height.
“I think the height limit in the Residential ½ acre zone is 35 feet but we’d be willing to go higher if need be, but we can work within the 35 feet,” he said.
If the 35 foot height level is approved, the Assisted Living facility will be nearly identical to Sanderson’s self storage project that he built just to the north. Residents and some Planning and Town Board members have sharply criticized this project, pointing out that the Assisted Living facility, along with the Self-Storage and The Views (if approved] would, in essence, create a ‘wall of concrete’ that will run along Route 9W and define the Town of Lloyd’s central corridor.
In subsequent interviews, Town Board members commented on this new amended proposal.
Supervisor Fred Pizzuto said if the developer just wants the Assisted Living component, he was under the impression that, “everything else gets wiped off the table...I perceive that they’re coming before us again for the nursing home as a stand alone unit [and] anything after that would be a new application.”
Pizzuto said he wants to see a rendering of the building.
“Before I can say yes, no or maybe, I need to see it in a perspective, unlike unfortunately with those storage units, with somebody standing next to it or something to give me some idea what this thing is, what it’s going to look like,” he said.
Councilman Mike Guerriero said, “The way I feel, I’m not positive yet, but I’m leaning more toward them getting the waiver than not right now.”
Guerriero said it is not a bad project and it will provide revenue for the town and the density of traffic would not be a problem with a two story building.
Guerriero understands that the developer would at some future date seek approval for the rest of the project.
“But the moratorium would be over by the time they come back and they would have to start all over and everything’s going to change [such as] the density and the setbacks,” he said.
Councilman Lenny Auchmoody favors granting the project the requested waiver to proceed with the Assisted Living portion of the project. He is not against a four story building but if the project has to meet the height restriction, they may want to make the building longer in order to keep the bed count at 130.
Auchmoody said timing is an important issue for the developer in obtaining the HUD money.
“I’m going back to having the project in our community,” he said, adding that he is even more in favor of the project if the Urgent Care facility is also built.
Councilwoman Claire Winslow, who also sits on the Comprehensive Plan Committee, said if and when Sanderson returns for the rest of his project the new Comprehensive Plan will be completed.
“We’re looking at the height and the density so they’re not going to come back with crazy density and overloading Route 9W; that’s everyone’s concern,” she said.
Winslow is unsure about allowing the Assisted Living facility to proceed.
“I’m mulling it over in my head, I’m just not sure. Always my biggest fear is that if we give them something will they follow the rules; that means the Building Department has to follow the rules.” She said if she votes yes on the waiver she will “stay on top” of building Department Director Dave Barton to ensure that Sanderson follows the rules.
“Things seem to slide by him [Barton],”she said.
Winslow said the Villages project is not going to be released from any new code changes or Comprehensive Plan provisions.
“I am aware that they keep crying about their money, they cry about they’re going to lose funding, I don’t care if they walk out of the town. They’re going to follow the letter of the law and by giving them the waiver for the nursing home and now restricting the height and how many beds can go in there, as far as I’m concerned, that’s huge,” she said.
Councilman Joe Mazzetti said he is pro business and wants jobs, “but I want to also make sure our community maintains a high quality life for our townspeople and for people who come and visit.”
Mazzetti wishes to see the new project plans.
“I want to see what guarantees are put in place before I vote yea or nay,” he said. “I’m cautious to make sure I can make the best informative decision that benefits our community and residents. I’m not going to make any haphazard decision under promises of grandeur that turn out to be a nightmare for our residents.”
Because of the significant change to the original proposal, the Village in the Hudson Valley is set for a new public hearing on Wednesday, March 18 at 7 p.m. at Town Hall, 12 Church St, Highland.