Despite enormous support from fellow business-owners, Family of New Paltz and members of the community at last Tuesday night’s Village Planning Board’s Public Hearing on Moxie Cupcake’s application to move to 184 Main Street, the Planning Board shut down any action on the pending application once again.
Josie Eriole, owner of Moxie Cupcakes, a fair-trade, organic cupcake Mom-and-Pop store that has turned into a regional cupcake and coffeehouse empire, thought that she was doing a good thing for her business by expanding it from the small shop at 215 Main Street to the vacant building on Main Street that was the longtime home of the sports store Peak Performance, then for a short while a controversial hookah bar, which closed shortly after it opened. Instead she has had to pay upwards of $5,000 for her application and review by the Planning Board’s engineer and attorney of her site plan.
Village Planning Board chair Maurice Whiteman refused to move forward until Eriole paid another $1,600 into an escrow account for the village’s “consultants to review” her latest revisions.
“You know what their consultants asked me to do?” she said after the meeting, surrounded by friends and family who were aghast that a local business was being treated in this manner. “Five things: show that I put a planter in; that I removed five parking spaces; remove a curb-cut that was in existence since the Jack-n-the-Box drive-up days [of the 1970s]; and to note my electric on the site plan. They need $1,600 to review those changes? Five educated people can’t look at the plan and the site itself? The village planner was there, and he could certainly take a look at it. There is no new construction at this site. None! We’ve only made cosmetic changes. This is having a huge financial impact on my small business, and sets a terrible precedent for other small businesses that want to stay and grow in this community.”
Eriole was hardly alone with her sentiments on the Planning Board process and cost. Guy Visk, former confidential secretary to the town supervisor and a New Paltz resident, was one of many who encouraged the Planning Board to approve Eriole’s Special Use Permit, which is required because a cupcake shop/coffeehouse is not listed as a permitted use in the outdated zoning code in the B-1 District. “I’m thrilled Moxie Cupcakes is going to move to a much larger site,” said Visk. “It’s a beautiful site that brings her wonderful business into the heart of the village, where more people can see it and walk to it. This is exactly the type of business that New Paltz needs and should support and encourage. She makes her money here, spends her money here, is deeply invested in the community and is enormously philanthropic. Please approve her application, and thank you for your volunteer service.”