Cucina OK: Planning board says so

The Woodstock Planning Board passed a lengthy resolution on Thursday night, September 6, that granted approval to plans for the renovation of the old Riseley barn structure into a catering hall at 105-109 Mill Hill Road, next to Cucina Restaurant…with conditions. Four members of the board approved of the measure with two absent and one member abstaining. The action apparently ends months of back-and-forth regarding building permits, certificates of occupancy, and zoning jurisdictions over the matter.

Specifics in the six-page resolution, first approved without final detail on August 30, date back a year to a series of notes submitted by town planner Alan Sorenson following a conceptual meeting about Cucina’s renovation plans last summer, as well as a September 12, 2011 response to those notes from town Zoning Enforcement Officer and Building Inspector Ellen Casciaro.

Further documentation cited in the resolution includes a 1990 Zoning Board of Appeals variance granted for ten parking spaces on the property’s front yard; a 2005 memo from previous Zoning Enforcement Officer Paul Shultis Sr.  that granted a waiver to The Emerson, a previous restaurant on the location, for a similar renovation job within the same structure, and documentation of the back-and-forth arguments on the part of the Woodstock Zoning Board of Appeals from may into August that saw Casciaro’s original Building Permit for the Cucina proposal okayed, overturned, reheard, and then referenced as a reason for reversing a temporary Certificate of Occupancy issued by Casciaro last month.


In its lengthy reasoning, planners calculated that Cucina has 67 approved parking spaces on site at 105-109 Mill Hill Road, and 64 are required. Town zoning basically requires one space for every three seats in a restaurant.

They also noted that all of the building’s renovations were occurring within the old Riseley Barn construction, and that the catering use proposed for the renovated building is in keeping with the use of the property under Cucina’s management.

“The relationship of the subject site to other sites in the G-O (Gateway Overlay) District is not changing as a result of the proposed action,” the resolution reads, after noting that no major exterior or use changes will be occurring because of Cucina’s changes to the barn. “The previous use in the barn was two retail businesses with no relationship to the restaurant on the site. The catering facility will now provide a single, allowed Eating and Drinking Establishment commercial use for the site provided the business relationship between the restaurant and catering facility does not change. The use is compatible with the objectives and other uses in the G-O District.”

Cucina, and property owner Cyrus Adler, were directed to apply for a Building Permit within 12 months, and a Certificate of Occupancy within two years.

“The resolution speaks for itself,” said Casciaro of what was passed some four months after her original Building Permit was rescinded by the Woodstock ZBA. “I knew what I was doing back when this all started.”

Asked if what ensued was as convoluted as it appeared, the ZEO and building inspector replied “Only to the lay person.”