After a lengthy time in the site plan process, the Lloyd Planning Board recently approved The Views at Highland, a mixed use, two building development project, each with two-stories on a 3 acre site. The top floors will have a combined total of 22 residential apartments and the first floors will have commercial space totaling 14,000 sq/ft. It is slated to face the slip ramp of South Chapel Hill off of Route 9W in the Highway Business District Zone.
The Ulster County Planning Board’s [UCPB] letter of 3/3/21, voiced support for mixed-use projects but pointed out that the project must conform to the Affordable Housing provisions in the town code that requires 10% of the residential units, in this case two, be set aside as affordable apartments units.
The UCPB also noted that the project, “has limited outdoor amenities available, not only to the proposed residents, but the businesses themselves.” In a 2nd required modification, the county wants the developer to expand sidewalk widths, create outdoor dining and outdoor public gathering space(s) and provide amenities for school-aged children and bike racks. The UCPB pointed out that these simple additions “might further enhance the livability of the project and serve as an attraction to additional visitors. The integration of landscaping (trees) into these community spaces should also be considered as a further enhancement.”
The project will have 10% of Affordable housing but the 2nd required modification by the county on community space was rejected by the Town Board as part of the zoning amendment process for safety and incompatibility reasons on these types of sites. The developer pointed out that the project already is at the maximum lot coverage allowed and there is not enough space on the site for amenities for school-age children. The developer urged the board to override the county’s required modification on the issue of outdoor amenities by a super majority vote.
Residents addressed the board during the public comment period. Larry Fogelman said he reviewed the supplemental traffic study, which made no mention of the proposed Silver Gardens senior community project or the Highland Estates project, which is conceptually a 4 story hotel project on Mack’s Lane.
Sheila Barelli, a resident of Meyer Drive for 47 years, sent a letter to the Planning Board but did not receive an answer on the possibility of an increase of ants, termites and rodent infestation once trees are cut and the land is disturbed. She wants a guarantee in writing that if this happens the developer of the Views will cover the extermination costs to mitigate this potential problem.
Jeffrey Anzevino, who is employed by Scenic Hudson, said he was speaking as a resident of the town. He said it looks like the board and the developer have worked to improve the look of the project. He urged the board to have the developer install sidewalks, not only on South Chapel Hill Road slip-ramp but for all of the projects that are being proposed in this area.
Anzevino recalled that a representative of the proposed nearby Stewart Shop called a sidewalk at their property a sidewalk to nowhere.
“If no one ever builds a sidewalk then there never will be a sidewalk to anywhere,” he pointed out. “If there is an opportunity to put a sidewalk on that ramp, I think it would be a good idea so people can come around the corner of Chapel Hill Road and get into this development or to other places up Route 9W when sidewalks get built there.”
Anzevino said the South Chapel Hill slip-ramp, “is really challenging because it serves as an extension of Route 9W and right now there are not a lot of signals to drivers that they need to slow down coming off Route 9W going 40 or 45 or more mph. They’re already on that slip ramp going too fast,” he said. “I wish there might be some consideration of a sidewalk on that front of the project.”
Anzevino wondered if the slip ramp could be used as a right turn only onto Meyer Drive and not go all the way down to Chapel Hill Road. Mrs. Barelli agreed with Anzevino’s concerns for sidewalks, calling the slip-ramp a “speedway...I’ve seen accidents, I’ve seen it all.”
Kenneth Newman, of Meyer Drive, said he lives on the corner across from the project next to the gas station. He said people are already having trouble with traffic even though the project has not yet been built.
“The DOT traffic study doesn’t really address the situations of the residents in the neighborhood,” he said. “It’s not a good location to get into and out of...and I think there’s not enough actual nuts and bolts to this in the location where it is.”
The board closed the Public Hearing, followed by Land Use attorney Paul Van Cott taking the board through the provisions of the State Environmental Quality Review, leading to the board’s approval of a Negative Declaration, meaning that this project will not have any adverse environmental impacts upon the town.
Attorney Van Cott already had a resolution ready to approve the project, which the board did by a unanimous vote. The resolution did not include any of the suggestions brought up by the public that evening: installing sidewalks for pedestrians, looking more carefully at the combined impacts of traffic from projects being proposed in the area, such as Silver Gardens off Argent Drive and the conceptual Highland Estates four story hotel on Mark’s Lane, questioning the projects actual location, pest infestation or having the slip ramp be a right turn only onto Meyer Drive.