At the last Lloyd Planning Board meeting, attorney John Furst, of Catania, Mahon, Milligram and Rider, accused the board of discriminating against his client’s project, the Village In The Hudson Valley.
Furst said owner Owen Mark Sanderson is proposing to build a Continuing Care Retirement Community consisting of 212 ‘independent living’ cottages for 62 years of age and older. The cottages will be privately owned but the pad sites will be leased. In addition, he is seeking to build an Assisted Living facility on the site with a total of 125 beds as well as an Urgent Care component.
Furst criticized the Planning Board for not having them on their agenda for the November 21 workshop because he was told the project would not be discussed. Planning Board Chairman Fred Pizzuto [now Supervisor] responded, “There was a reason for that,” but he was quickly cut off by Building Department Director Dave Barton who said, “we’re not going to get into that now,” and motioned for Furst to continue. In a subsequent interview, Pizzuto said he was about to discuss a Moratorium that is under consideration by the Town Board before being waived off that topic by Barton.
In a letter to the Planning Board, dated 12-4-19, Furst did address the impending moratorium, saying it unfairly targets his client.
“It appears the town is attempting to manipulate the situation and trap my client in a moratorium and potential code changes, when a moratorium has not even been adopted yet,” he wrote.
Furst said because of the meeting misunderstanding, his client was, “denied an opportunity to move forward with the application. That same night many other applicants had public hearings scheduled, some of them didn’t even have representatives here...I don’t know if it was an accident but it felt like we were singled out and discriminated against.”
Pizzuto asked Furst for further clarification, “What are you trying to say?”
Furst suggested the board schedule a special meeting just for the Village project in the very near future, “so we can get back on track and fall in line with the other applicants that were all heard at the workshop. We’d like to catch up to everyone else and be treated fairly and equally.”
Board member Scott McCarthy said he felt, “uncomfortable with the way this is going. I feel we’re being put on notice here” by the applicant.
Pizzuto said the Planning Board will have to confer with their counsel and the town’s Building Director in order to arrive at a solution, “and we’ll let our counsel contact you whatever the decision is then made.”
Lloyd’s land use attorney Rob Stout informed Furst that prior to scheduling a public hearing the issue of a zoning change has to be addressed concerning the proposed Continuing Care facility because it does not presently meet the town’s criteria. In addition, Stout said there are also a number of additional details that the owner will have to comply with before a public hearing is set.
At the end of the meeting the Planning Board unanimously approved a motion to be lead agency on this project.
Furst told the board that the owner is working with the New York State Department, “to get around that Article 46.” He said the state may be in the process of amending Article 46 of the Public Health Law concerning Continuing Care Retirement Communities. He claims this law, “has been such a disaster to implement...and is so onerous.”
In a phone interview, Furst explained that Article 46 is one of many types of certificates and licenses that the Department of Health grants to applicants seeking to operate Continuing Care Retirement Facilities, like the Village in the Hudson Valley.
Furst said last year the New York State Assembly and Senate both passed amendments to Article 46 aimed at, “relaxing some of the standards and make it easier because there are a lot of hoops to jump through in order to get this Article 46 from the Department of Health.”
Furst explained that Gov. Cuomo vetoed the measure late last year.
“I believe his thinking was for a complete overhaul of these regulations. He wants to revamp everything and the proposed amendments were kind of tweaking and changing things here and there,” Furst said. “He felt the changes weren’t enough and he wanted to do even more to make it easier to apply for this Article 46.”
Furst said it is uncertain how long it will take state officials to revamp the process but, “they’ve got to go back and start from scratch.” He said he will proceed with the project as is before the Planning Board and, if needed, they will seek to obtain the Article 46 as it is in its current form.
Pizzuto said the veto came a few weeks before the Planning Board’s November meeting. He said that he and the Planning Board had not heard about this Article 46 from the applicant, from Dave Barton or from attorney Rob Stout.
“My argument is why should the town proceed paying for the lights, the heat, the people upstairs in the Building Department and everybody to work on this as if it’s maybe going to happen and now it hasn’t happened; why would we proceed and spend five cents until they get this approval?”
Pizzuto said Furst and his team knew the matter had been vetoed and he still came before the Planning Board pushing his project. He believes the Village project actually needs a Special Use Permit instead of a commercial site plan along with some zoning changes.
“They carry on as if there’s no problem, everything’s a slam dunk and everything is going to be just fine. That might have been the way it used to run,” he said.