The July 16 Town of Crawford Board Meeting was held in the Crawford Senior Center to allow for socially distant seating as well as anticipated increase in community attendance due to speculative Facebook posts and heightened concern about the rumored possibility of a high density housing development being planned in the Town of Crawford.
The public hearings for the introductory local law regarding a Mixed Use Floating Zoning District and the Designation of Mixed Use Floating Zoning District 1 were the primary focus of many attendees.
Supervisor Charlie Carnes read a statement reminding the public of the lack of tolerance for any comments related to race, religion, and other unacceptable remarks. A summarized history of the Town’s 15 year ownership of a 7.75 acre parcel of land located across from the high school on State Route 302 and bordering Black Hawk Road on one side was provided. The same piece of land borders a 2 + acre lot with a well, and a 1.65 acre lot which houses a water and cell phone tower. The Town has $2.4 million dollars earmarked in grant money toward solving Crawford’s water needs, and the Board identified the sale of this parcel at $795,000 would offset the additional $2.3 million dollars required to complete the project.
Carnes outlined the proposed project as a Mixed Use meaning it will include no more than 54 apartments consisting of equality division of one and two bedroom units and may also include general retail space up to 20,000 square feet with option to have offices for general business, medical, personal service, banks, and restaurants.
Members of the community questioned: the impact of the sale price would barely reduce the remaining funds needed to solve the current water problems, increased need for water creating a larger deficit, increased traffic, concerns for the decreasing number of open business on Main Street, a lack of jobs for residents, the need for Economic Impact and Environmental studies, increased population in the school district, the definition of affordable housing, and imploring the Board they are, “headed in the wrong direction.”
When asked how the public could be reassured the seeming similarities to the Bloomingburg Chestnut Ridge development of high density housing was not happening in Crawford, Carnes replied, “What happened in Bloomingburg included illegal activities and people ended up in jail. We will have a contract of sale that will include a restriction of no more than 54 units.”
Following the reveal of an artist’s conceptual drawing of the proposed apartment complex, the crowd had an audible negative and disappointed reaction.
Mike Conklin commented, “That picture is absolutely appalling,” to which Board Member Rory Holmes responded, “This is a rendering. The applicant will still have to go to the Planning Board.”
The Board stated the applicant and developer Moses Schwartz has built a similar project in Maybrook. Carnes stated the current contract with Schwartz is subject to approval and no deposit has been accepted by the Town, but added, “If the property is not zoned multi-use Schwartz will walk away, and if we do not grant 54 units, we will have to lower the price.”
Before closing the public comment portion of the meeting, Carnes said, “We are trying to do what is best for the water district.”
Board Member Dan Flanick implored, “I want to make it perfectly clear - we do not have any secrets. If you have questions, ask.”
Next on the agenda were discussions surrounding the steps needed to form a coterminous town and village. Carnes identified the advantages of being both the Village and Town of Crawford as having no duplication of government, no high-density zoning which is in keeping with the Town’s Master Plan and preventing various villages from being formed.
“We run a thrifty government in my mind, and we control the Town taxes,” said Carnes.
The Town cannot be the lead agency in the actions needed to start the process. Volunteers from the community would be seeking signatures of support from registered voters in the Town of Crawford on a petition identifying the desire and support for forming the Village of Crawford. Immediately following this discussion, a few attendees offered to circulate petitions in favor of forming one Town and one Village of Crawford.
Following the meeting, Carnes stated he felt the meeting went well and that the Board will continue to receive and review comments up to and including the August 20 Board Meeting with the public hearing continuing at 7:30 p.m. He acknowledged understanding the people’s concerns and fears but feels the priority is to do what is right for the water district. Regarding the change in zoning to Mixed Use, Carnes said, “It is kind of a transition zone right there and is touched by Pine Bush Equipment as well as residential.”
Regarding timing of the proposal Carnes indicated he would like the board to make a decision regarding the Multi Use Zoning at the August meeting.