The Lloyd Town Board pushed two development projects off to their June 17th meeting. The Village in the Hudson Valley is seeking to build an Assisted Living facility and the Commons at Highland (formerly the Views) is looking to construct a mixed use residential/ commercial project. Both of these projects are proposed for the southern part of town, on the western side of Route 9W, just north of Chapel Hill Rd.
Supervisor Fred Pizzuto opened last week’s meeting by making a motion to adjourn these two development projects to the board’s June 17 meeting. He explained his motion, saying, “there is substantial public interest in these projects and because of this we are not confident effective public participation can be assured by remote meetings; the Governor’s Executive Order to postpone public hearings for the months of April and May and provide for but do not require hearings to be held remotely.” Pizzuto said the current Executive Order is in place through June 6, after which the town will receive an update from the state.
The Town Board approved the motion 5-0.
Because a building moratorium is currently in place, attorneys for the two projects have been seeking waivers from the Town Board to be allowed to proceed to the Planning Board. To date, the board has not granted them waivers.
Attorney John Furst, who represents the Village in the Hudson Valley, objected to the board moving his client’s request for a waiver to June 17 and asked to board to reconsider their action.
Furst pointed out that there have already been four public hearings prior to last week’s meeting for this project and in early March, prior to covid-19 and at two others, there was little or minimal public comments made or submitted.
“I don’t understand all of a sudden now there is this huge concern about the public not having access,” he said. “Our application has been posted on the town’s website for weeks now and as per an email from the Town Clerk this morning, nobody from the public has submitted any comments on our application. I think we’re getting lumped in with the other project [the Commons] that just submitted their application and now we’re going to be further delayed. I believe it’s unacceptable and I implore the board to hear me out tonight and honestly we are ready for a decision.”
Pizzuto told Furst that he would send him the legal basis on what the board based their decision upon. Though Pizzuto referenced a decision, it is not clear if he had the decision at last week’s meeting to read into the public record.
Furst said the continuing delay by the Town Board, “is embarrassing to the point that I will have to go back to my client (Mark Sanderson)...This is unfair and unjust. My client has been very compromising with you guys and you guys just keep turning around and add another list of objectionable items where you just keep jerking us around.”
Pizzuto stressed that, “we didn’t make this up out of the blue, this is coming through our attorneys based on what we are getting from the Governor’s office also.”
Attorney Alec Gladd, representative of the Commons at Highland, joined in the objection made by Furst of adjourning these matters to June. He said virtual meetings are being carried out to allow town business to continue and so the public can join in to voice their comments.
“I would argue that it makes it easier because they don’t have to get up, leave their house and go down to Town Hall. They can offer comments from their couch in the comfort of their own homes, so I don’t see any issue continuing this,” he said.
Gladd said the Governor’s order prohibits holding a public hearing only through April and May, “unless it can be held in a virtual forum, which is going on right now.” He voiced his strong objections and asked that the board at the very least schedule his client’s project for June 3rd instead of June 17th. The board did not amend their vote that moved these projects to June 17.
Before the close of the meeting the board unanimously approved another resolution that would allow them to extend the building moratorium, if needed beyond July 16, for 3 months, “given the uncertainties of conducting government business during the covid-19 pandemic, and to provide the Town Board sufficient time to consider and adopt amendments to the Zoning Code consistent with the purposes of the moratorium.” The resolution will be sent to the Ulster County Planning Board for their review and recommendations, pursuant to general Municipal Law Section 239-M.