Gardiner ZBA finds few options in its zoning code

By Katherine Donlevy
Posted 9/9/20

What happens when there’s a hole in the zoning code?The question was raised at the Town of Gardiner Planning Board’s Aug. 25 meeting while reviewing an application for a Minor Site Plan …

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Gardiner ZBA finds few options in its zoning code

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What happens when there’s a hole in the zoning code?The question was raised at the Town of Gardiner Planning Board’s Aug. 25 meeting while reviewing an application for a Minor Site Plan on McKinstry Road. The applicant sought to merge three lots into one, resulting in a single lot with two residential structures and three accessory storage structures on the consolidated parcel. Sterling Environmental Engineering reviewed the application as a Type II action and found that it complied with zoning requirements, was not subject to an environmental review and that a public hearing was not necessary, thus ending all action between the planning board and the applicant.

But Dave Brennan pointed out that the application doesn’t fit into the Site Plan category, per Gardiner’s zoning rules, and questioned why it wasn’t considered a Lot Line Revision instead.

“It’s a Site Plan because a Lot Line Revision only allows for an adjustment of a line between two lots. This application is to remove two lot lines to create one lot from three lots, so it wouldn’t fall into a Lot Line Revision category and there’s no lot line consolidation category in the code,” explained Andrew Millspaugh, the Vice President of Sterling Environmental. “ If it’s not a Lot Line Revision and it’s not a Site Plan, what’s the other option?”

After discussion, the board found that the code doesn’t offer a third option, and the application danced between the original two -Site Plans are necessary for properties with more than two single-family dwellings, whereas the applicant had only two, and a Lot Line Revision is applicable for the moving of lot designation between two land parcels, not the erasure of lines between three.

“It’s a round peg in a square hole because it’s just not in the code exactly,” said Brennan.

The applicant questioned whether it would be easier to apply to consolidate just two of the lots and return a month later to combine the final lot with the new, large parcel, but the board noted it wouldn’t save any time.

Ultimately, Brennan offered the idea to switch the application from a Minor Site Plan to a Minor Subdivision.

“At the end of the day, we’re approving a subdivision map to be filed at the clerk’s office and transmitting it to our assessor and our folks at town hall,” he said, though it notes the category is most often used in cases pertaining to driveways. “It kind of sounds like and smells like a Site Plan but at the end of the day it’s a subdivision where you’re looking at a subdivision rather than a vacant piece of land with buildings on that we don’t want to create problems with.”

The board agreed, and asked the applicant to switch his application to the proper category. The change did reverse Sterling Environmental’s original recommendation that a public hearing would be optional, however - the opportunity for the public to voice opinions on a Minor Subdivision is required according to the code.

The board unanimously approved the public hearing for its Sept. 22 meeting, including those who had been originally eager to forgo one.

“I don’t see a necessary reason to have a public hearing for this application. It’s a lot consolidation. That’s just my opinion,” Vice Chair Keith Libolt said prior to Brennan’s suggestion at changing the application.

Carol Richman had been the only opposing voice to waive the public hearing.

“I’m thinking it’s about precedent. If it’s something that’s sort of an anomaly in our code and we could rise again in an instance when there might be more of a reason why the public would want to comment. it just couldn’t hurt,” she said, before adding that no one would probably show up to the hearing anyway.

In other business, the planning board heard an application from Lumens Holdings 3, LLC, which has been seeking to build a two megawatt solar energy system at Libertyville Road in New Paltz for over a year.

“We have a checklist that is on our website and we are adamant that we are not going to accept applications prior to this checklist being provided. That’s first and foremost, that I respectfully request that it’s submitted, to conform to what’s required to move this application…this is technically not a complete application,” board Chair Paul Colucci told the applicant.

Pointed out in a memo by Sterling Environmental, the application lacked numerous points regarding the checklist, especially pertaining to its Site Plan Drawings.

Because the applicant had been attempting to move forward with the plan since 2019, the board momentarily considered adopting a resolution to declare themselves intent, but finally opted to have the applicant return with a completed checklist at its

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