An Ulster Park based company Leprechaun Ventures, represented by Charles Wesley, has applied for two area variances with the Lloyd Zoning Board to construct a 2,400 sq/ft warehouse for the storage of construction materials at 436 Upper North Road in Highland. The lot is a long and narrow sliver that lies between Route 9W and Upper North Road.
Wesley came before the Zoning Board seeking relief for his parcel on lot size and for a rear yard setback because the Dimensional Table in the Town Code Chapter 100 Attachment 2 requires that in the Light Industrial Zone lots must be 1 acre and Wesley’s lot falls shy of that by 11,108 feet. In addition, 35 feet is required for a rear yard setback and Wesley has only 20 feet.
Wesley said they are providing a 40 ft turnaround area for truck deliveries and an area in the front for parking, which he said could be designed instead for the northern side of the lot if needed. ZBA Chairman John Litts pointed out that as the layout is presently configured, cars would be backing out onto Upper North Road and combination trucks coming onto the property may have difficulty due to their size. Wesley said any combination vehicle would enter the lot and pull to the north and back in to the loading dock.
Building Department Director Dave Barton reminded the board that this lot has its challenges.
“This is a tough site and I appreciate someone coming in to try and do something with it,” he said. “In my opinion, not to sway the board in any particular direction, the proposal is about as good as we’ll ever get on this site.” He said this proposal may bring the lot more into conformance with the town code. He encouraged ZBA members to visit the site so they can better visualize the applicant’s proposal.
Litts asked Wesley for more clarity of truck movement in and out of this site, noting that problems with large truck deliveries have happened at Dollar General in the main Route 9W business corridor in Highland.
“I don’t want to make that mistake again; not that we made that mistake, but I think we should be looking at that [with this application],” Litts said.
The record, however, does not back Litts’ statement. It shows that the ZBA was involved in that project, having granted a variance to Dollar General to allow parking on the side of the building and the Planning Board permitted the entrance to be on the 140 ft side of the building, resulting in the shorter 70 ft side of the structure to face Route 9W along with a faux window frontage. These allowances violated key provisions in the then newly approved Walkway-Gateway Zoning District. The site layout of the Dollar General is what has caused issues with truck deliveries that Chairman Litts referenced. A Highland Fire Department report, dated 9/6/19, detailed a Mazda crashing into the side of a large Dollar General truck that was turning into the store’s parking lot to make a delivery.
Wesley said due to the high elevation of his proposed warehouse there would “absolutely” be no interaction with Route 9W. “The access would have to be from Upper North Road,” he said.
Litts stressed that he is primarily concerned about safety when getting on and off the property, especially with trucks. The only mention of the lots shortcomings in size and with the setback was in the meeting agenda that was read aloud at the start of the meeting.
“I just want to make sure that we have enough access for them to be able to do that safely and that a truck is not blocking Upper North Road so people can’t get by because that’s what’s happening at Dollar General,” he said.
Board member Russell Gilmore questioned Wesley on how visible the warehouse would be to the residents just across from the site.
“They built their homes in a rural area and are we going to have a large warehouse that they’re going to have to look at?” he asked.
Wesley said his layout was drawn up quickly in order to meet a deadline, but said the building would be about 1.5 stories in height. He said he would provide the ZBA with exact elevations of the structure for their review at their next meeting; “I’m sure you’d want to see those.”
Wesley seemed willing to install some form of visual screening of the warehouse for his neighbors. This issue would be covered by the Planning Board during the site plan review.
The ZBA set a public hearing on the requested relief for March 11 at 7 p.m.