The Lloyd Planning Board set a public hearing for ‘The Views At Highland’ for February 25 at 7 p.m. The proposed development is a mixed-use project with 2, two story buildings. Each building will have 11 apartments on the 2nd floor for a total of 22 apartments and the first floor of each building will have 10,900 sq/ft of retail/office space for a combined total of 21,800 sq/ft. The project is located at 3715-3725 Route 9W and faces S. Chapel Hill Rd. and is the former location of the office of podiatrist Dr. Vanessa Darmochwal.
Attorney Alec Gladd, of Cuddy & Feder, said during December they made revisions to the plans and submitted their new work on January 8, 2021. He pointed out that the project has been reduced to two stories, instead of their original submission for three stories.
Gladd said they updated their landscaping plans that lessens the impact to nearby homes on Mayer Drive. He said there will be signage erected to restrict traffic onto Mayer Drive and only typical UPS, FedEx or small box truck deliveries will enter and exit the property and travel through the nearby neighborhood.
Gladd said their earlier traffic mitigation design to make South Chapel Hill Road two-way has been removed from the plan.
“What we’re doing is keeping the existing one-way traffic and proposing some traffic calming measures,” he said. Traffic Engineer Andrew Villari elaborated further on their traffic plans. He said South Chapel Hill Road actually functions as an off ramp for traffic traveling south on Route 9W. He said they are proposing to narrow the lane coming off of Route 9W from the typical 12 foot width down to 10 feet, “just to make it feel narrower for motorists and the reaction is for them to slow down. There are no physical restrictions that we’re proposing, its all going to be done with striping.” He said a series of new signs will call attention to the narrowing of the roadway that will work in conjunction with some enhanced features in the shoulders to bring visual attention to the road. There will also be a new stop-bar.
Villari said their traffic plans were submitted to Ulster County, as this small slip is under their jurisdiction. He said the county asked for a few modifications; making the lane width 10.6 ft instead of 10 ft and a slight lane re-alignment. He said the county also asked for a bike lane to be installed on the inside shoulder of the project. The developer is also proposing to provide additional room for motorists to make left turns from South Chapel Hill Road onto Chapel Hill Road that will not cause a backup of cars wanting to turn right at this intersection.
Board member Sal Cuciti said the county also asked for a restriction of traffic at the entryway to Mayer Drive, “so they could not turn left.” Villari believes the county wants to prohibit traffic going up Mayer Drive, which can be helped by more striping and signage.
Cuciti also asked about the possibility of a D Level of Service on the intersection of Route 9W and Chapel Hill Road, wondering how the amount of traffic to and from this project would factor into this calculation. A level D rating, according to the Highway Capacity Manuel and the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials, is defined as, “approaching unstable flow. Speeds slightly decrease as traffic volume slightly increases. Freedom to maneuver within the traffic stream is much more limited and driver comfort levels decrease. Vehicles are spaced about 160 ft or 8 car lengths. Minor incidents are expected to create delays.” Vallari said he was unsure if their reduced project size would keep the Level of Service at a D rating but he would address this point with the board at a later date.
The intersection of Route 9W and Chapel Hill Road has come under scrutiny because of the number of development projects that have recently been built and continue to be proposed in this area. Prior to the pandemic, residents in the Hudson Hills subdivision and many along Mack’s Lane spoke before the Town Board, warning that if these sizable projects continue without restrictions, the cumulative impact on traffic alone during peak morning and evening rush hours will severely clog the roadways in their area and adversely affect their quality of life. The intent of last year’s moratorium was to allow a town committee the time needed to revise the town code, not only on traffic, but on a variety of old code provisions that needed updating. Instead, code modifications were made to a few provisions in the Highway Business District but the majority of changes in the code favored residential retirement communities, especially by allowing higher densities.
Cuciti suggested that the Views move away from using bright colors on their buildings.
“I think red on the end is a mistake in Highland. I think it would stick out like a sore thumb as you’re coming up Route 9W,” he said. “I think it would look more high end if it was more uniform. The green metal roofing pops out at me as not really blending with the rest of the building...I think a different color scheme would help you and would help Highland.” The project representative said sample colors will be provided to the board for review.
Planning Board Chairman Scott McCarthy commended the project representatives on the evolution of the project.
“I tell you I think you guys have come a long way from the very beginning,” he said. “I can’t thank you guys enough for the presentation. As always you did a great job.”