Plattekill Corners gas station clears hurdle

Posted 4/20/22

The proposed convenience store and gas station at Plattekill Corners cleared a big hurdle on April 14 when the Town of Plattekill’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approved five variances for the …

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Plattekill Corners gas station clears hurdle


The proposed convenience store and gas station at Plattekill Corners cleared a big hurdle on April 14 when the Town of Plattekill’s Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) approved five variances for the controversial project.

The ZBA voted 5-0, with one abstention by newly appointed member Helene Dembroski, to okay the variances sought by Newburgh Fuel Distributor Inc.

The owners of the proposed convenience store and gas station now head to the Planning Board to seek a Special Use Permit and Site Plan approval before they can tear down the former Plattekill Corners General Store and replace it with a new store and gas pumps.

Earlier this year, an online petition with over 25,000 signatures encouraged town officials to preserve the longtime general store located at the intersection of Plattekill Ardonia Road (Route 32) and Huckleberry Turnpike.

However, petition organizers didn’t attend any of the ZBA public hearings to press their case.

Several town residents complained during public hearings about possible traffic problems and concerns with buried gas tanks at the existing site.

Town Historian Libby Werlau also shared her concerns over access to a town cemetery that borders the proposed project. The cemetery dates back to 1793, making it one of the oldest cemeteries in Ulster County.

Before the ZBA voted to approve the variances, ZBA attorney Richard Hoyt pointed out that the board had previously granted a variance for the same lot in 1999.

“Those variances were never pursued and the matter has sat for 23 years,” Hoyt said.

According to the approved ZBA resolution, the 1999 variances also included setback variances for a canopy over the proposed gas islands similar to what is proposed by the new owners.

“The Board finds that the Applicant’s request for a variance to construct a Convenience Store with gas pumps will not produce an undesirable change in the character of the neighborhood and will not produce a detriment to neighboring properties,” the resolution said.

The resolution also pointed out that the new one-story store will be about half the size of the vacant Plattekill Corners General Store and will be much shorter than the two-story general store, which has been closed since March 31, 2020.

The ZBA also maintained in the resolution that the convenience store and gas station’s eight parking spaces will be adequate to handle the flow of the customers.

Hoyt said the applicants for the project “argue, and probably with some merit, that the four gas pumps also provide parking. I know when I go to fill up my car, I put gas in it and I run in the store. I’m not going to go to take a parking spot. I’m still at the pump.”
The variances are subject to a number of conditions, according to the ZBA, including that the Town Planning Board should ensure the adjacent historic cemetery is properly buffered, screened and protected and public access is provided.

The Planning Board should also ensure that all exterior lighting shall be “dark sky compliant” and the site shall be landscaped as directed by town planners.

Another condition that should be met is that there will be no seating areas within or outside of the store the ZBA said. The new owners have already said they would not allow seating.

“The Planning Board has full authority to decide how this thing is going to look,” Hoyt said. “And maybe the Planning Board will make it (be) dressed up a little bit, so it’ll be a benefit and asset to the town.”

Another ZBA condition to the variance was that the Planning Board shall ensure that the Ulster County Planning Board’s advisory comments regarding stormwater runoff, potential “hot spot” issues, traffic circulation and the historic cemetery all are addressed during the Special Use Permit and Site Plan approval process.

The five ZBA members voting to approve the variances were Chairman Larry Lindenauer, Vice Chairman Bruce Jantzi and members Joseph Egan, Judy Loertscher and James Fazio. Sis Morse was absent.

The ZBA members made no comments before approving the variances.

Newburgh Fuel Distributor’s site plan application was forwarded from the Planning Board to the ZBA for a Dec. 9 meeting. A public hearing on the application was first held on Jan. 27 and continued through March 24.

In other news, the ZBA continued the public hearing on a variance for Obstacle Wonderland, a running course on New Unionville Road.

According to town code, any property structure must be 150 feet away from the property line. At the Feb. 24 ZBA meeting, it was determined the closest obstacle on the property was 39 feet to the property line.

A public hearing was held on March 24 to discuss the variance. Most of the hearing, however, was devoted to complaints from members of the neighboring Bethlehem Rod & Gun Club of trespassing on their property from those running the obstacle course.

Gabe Capobianchi, owner of Obstacle Wonderland, denied those claims. At the latest meeting, he said he hoped to meet with gun club members to work out the problems.