Bowing to community sentiment and fiscal reality, a committee of Woodstock residents and officials on January 31 agreed to dissolve, thus ending the group’s examination of proposals to alter the Gateway Overlay zoning district at the eastern entrance to town and quelling a budding controversy.
The committee — an informal, untitled entity that succeeded a Town Board subcommittee chaired by councilwomen Cathy Magarelli and Terrie Rosenblum — reached a consensus to disband at the end of an hourlong meeting at the town offices on Comeau Drive. In doing so, the committee chose one of two courses of action that Magarelli deemed available; the other option was for the town to hire a professional planner, in tight budgetary times, to analyze various proposals to rezone the Gateway Overlay (GO) district.
With the GO district zoning review abandoned, Magarelli predicted that the Town Board would decline to take follow-up action on a resolution that it adopted on December 29 and forwarded to the Ulster County Planning Board for comment. The resolution related to the defining feature of the Gateway Overlay designation, which permits commercial uses in residential areas, provided the commercial activity involves or supports a cultural facility (see Woodstock Times, January 12 and January 19, 2012).
“I don’t foresee that the Town Board will consider the resolution further. The board will let it die,” said Magarelli in an interview after the meeting. The resolution relaxed a zoning law restriction on the sale of takeout food in the GO district. According to Magarelli and committee member Nancy Adler, the measure’s fate will not affect the expansion of Cucina restaurant, now under way, to include a catering facility in the adjacent “red barn” building at 105-109 Mill Hill Road.
The 105-109 Mill Hill Road property is owned by Nancy Adler and her husband, Cyrus Adler, who in a 2010 letter asked the Town Board to change the parcel’s zoning from its current status, Residential 1.5 (“moderate density residential”), to Hamlet Commercial. The change would eliminate the “cultural facilities” requirement of the Overlay designation.
Even in its current form the zoning law permits the establishment of a hotel with a capacity of 40 rooms in the GO district. Cyrus Adler said in a recent interview that he would support an effort by Cucina, his tenant, to operate a hotel if the restaurant’s owner pursued such a plan. Adler’s sentiments inflamed some residents of the district, who accused him or seeking preferential zoning treatment and generally recoiled at the prospect of a hotel or other large commercial enterprise near the scenic intersection of Routes 375 and 212.
The previous Town Board adopted the December 29 resolution. The current Town Board, which took office at the beginning of the year and does not include Rosenblum, declined to renew the former Magarelli-Rosenblum subcommittee, which had undertaken a systematic review of the zoning law, beginning with the GO district. The board agreed, however, to allow Magarelli to complete the assessment of the GO district. With the committee’s dissolution, that process is concluded.
Committee members and others attending the January 31 meeting included, in addition to Magarelli, Rosenblum, and Nancy Adler, councilman Ken Panza; town assessor Marc Plate; Planning Board members Lorin Rose and Paul Shultis Jr.; residents Jane Kelly, Joan Schwartzberg, and Alan Shapiro; local business owner Linda Tiano; and community activist Iris York.++