A Public Hearing to consider a building moratorium in Lloyd was held last Wednesday evening at the Highland Firehouse. It was attended by a large number of town residents as well as attorneys representing several substantial development projects that have recently been proposed for the southern side of town, near the intersections of Mayer Drive, Route 9W, Mack’s Lane and Chapel Hill Road.
At the outset of the hearing, the Town Board made it clear that they would keep the public hearing open until their December 4 meeting at 5 p.m. at the Town Hall. Written comments would also be accepted by the Town Clerk and entered into the record.
Erin Hazen, representing GlidePath Power Solutions, is in the midst of a $30 million proposal to build a clean and safe energy battery storage facility behind the Park & Ride facility at the intersection of Routes 299 and 9W. Hazen said the proposed moratorium, “in its current form” would jeopardize their project that has been under review since 2015, pointing out that their project would be a good fit and a “net asset” for the community.
Attorney John Furst represents Mark Sanderson, who is proposing the Village In The Hudson Valley on the west side of Route 9W, opposite the Bridgeview shopping plaza. The project consists of 212 independent living homes for ages 62 and up; a 125 bed Assisted Living facility and a medical office building containing a 24/7 Urgent Care component that is open to the public. He said this project is allowed in the zone, but added by Special Use Permit.
“In short we oppose this moratorium because it’s overly broad, far reaching and completely unnecessary,” he said. “If adopted, as is, it’s unconstitutional and illegal...There is no clear purpose, issue or concern identified in the proposed moratorium. It’s not a response to any dire necessity or crisis.” He said his client has spent $84,000 in fees and for consultants and that it should be exempt from the moratorium as well as any subsequent zoning amendments.
Attorney Taylor Palmer represents the proposed Views mixed-use project, located behind the Sunoco gas station and north of Chapel Hill Road. He is also seeking an exemption, pointing out that it has been under review since 2018 and has entailed significant monetary expenditures in consulting and application fees. He said a moratorium, “is not a dire necessity and is certainly not a crisis condition.”
Jane O’Connell, a resident of Mayer Drive, said any one of these projects by itself may not be a problem but, “there’s so many concentrated in one area and I’m sure that is an issue.” She recently was driving on Route 9W at 5:30 p.m. and witnessed traffic backed up all the way to the Mid Hudson Bridge. She said if all of these new projects are approved, “they are really going to impact our way of life.”
Ebony Cook is uncertain how a moratorium will affect her proposed child day care facility. Her current business is located on South Street where she has 12 staff members who serve 65 children but is moving to another location in town.
Hudson Hills resident Lindsey Decker and her fellow neighbors favor a moratorium, pointing out that the increase of traffic alone will ‘trap’ them in their development.
“This would seriously hinder our ability to travel locally. As it stands now it is almost impossible for us to make a left hand turn out of our development onto Route 9W,” she said, adding that she is skeptical that a second traffic light is the answer to this serious and dangerous situation.
“By approving a moratorium there will be time to look at the zoning codes for smarter development. This is in no way against building and growing our town. We feel there can be suitable development in the area but at the same time the concerns I have stated should be appropriately addressed,” she said.
Interior Designer Cathy Hobbs has proposed to construct an interior home staging set in a green technology, passive warehouse on Upper North Road. She asked the board if her project could receive an exemption from the other larger, more controversial projects proposed for the opposite side of town.
Resident John Fraino pointed out that from January through October 2019 the town has received $430,000 in fees associated with building and development in Highland; up from $107,000 in 2018. He asked if the Town Board has factored in any loss in revenue if a moratorium is put in place.
Fraino said a moratorium signals to developers that Lloyd is not open for business.
“Is that the message we want to have in Highland? A blanket moratorium is the wrong approach,” he said.
Gordon Hamilton, who lives on Mack’s Lane, said these simultaneously proposed projects in such a concentrated area, presents significant challenges to the Town and Planning Boards.
“We do need to step back a minute and look at this unprecedented situation and not be forced merely to go ahead because that’s the way it’s always been done,” he said. “Please bear in mind, we’re talking about quality of life. To do things right away are going to be permanent. Once something is built, once a bad situation or a good situation is in place, it’s there, it’s not going to be changed readily.”
Life-long resident Herb Litts III believes a blanket moratorium is not good for the town.
“We need to have smart growth and a balance of commercial rate-ables and residential. That is the only way our town can progress and the only way we can all stay here and pay our taxes,” he said. “It seems to be a few hot spots in town that these issues are revolving around.” He added that developers should be required to do a corridor study to address the impacts to the local community.
Dominick Roberto warns about what has already been approved and what that portends for the future.
“You can’t go down Route 9W, its Mad Max The Thunderdome and your coffee’s going to get cold trying to get out onto Route 299; we need to look at this a lot,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with growth and making money but let’s look at what’s happening; it’s dangerous to live in this area...Let’s do this moratorium; it’s for six months, it’s not forever and let’s look at our zoning laws in this town.”
Attorney James Horan represents the Hudson Valley Wine Village project that is proposed for a 400 acre plus parcel at the end of Blue Point Road. Though for quite some time, Horan said they worked with the Town Board for 3 years, especially clarifying traffic and density issues with the project. The project consists of a hotel, a light industrial component and approximately 800 housing units, mostly of townhouses and some individual homes, coupled with a 20 year build-out. He asked that this project, which is subject to a full environmental impact statement and findings that have already been done, be exempt from the moratorium. If they are not exempted, he asked that his project and others be allowed to go before the Planning Board to seek conceptual approvals.
Resident Susan Lindauer thanked the Town Board for formulating a moratorium.
“All I want is consideration for wise and smart building. With the moratorium in place I think that gives you time to breathe and with six projects I think you need it,” she said.
The Ulster County Planning Board [UCPB] recently submitted comments to the Town Board on items they must address. The town needs to tie the moratorium to a “credible effort” to review and change the [Comprehensive] plan and to establish a clear outline of the steps the town will take moving forward.
The UCPB recommended that the town reduce the “breadth” of the moratorium by exempting certain districts; the Blue Point Overlay District, Traditional Neighborhood Development, Mixed-Use Development Overlay Districts and the Walkway Gateway District as well as solar facilities and blighted/underutilized areas.
The UCPB stated that if the town approves a moratorium that projects currently before the Planning Board be allowed to proceed “at their own risk,” especially if they are in “alignment with the goals of the town’s proposed zoning amendments...This offers the opportunity to receive shortened decision times once the moratorium lifts.”
The UCPB also called for the town to demonstrate the need for a moratorium. In addition, if an extension of time of the moratorium is sought, the town must show to the UCPB and to the public that progress has been made and that a clear direction the town is going in is shown, “with respect to regulating the types of use in question.”