Residents call for better regional planning in response to the proposed plan to build a CVS and Five Guys in New Paltz

These folks are spearheading the efforts to keep CVS and Five Guys out of the gateway to New Paltz. Pictured left to right are: Michael Zierler, Julie Lillis, Kevin Borden and Stana Weisburd. They are pictured at the location on North Putt Corners of the potential driveway into the site. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

These folks are spearheading the efforts to keep CVS and Five Guys out of the gateway to New Paltz. Pictured left to right are: Michael Zierler, Julie Lillis, Kevin Borden and Stana Weisburd. They are pictured at the location on North Putt Corners of the potential driveway into the site. (photo by Lauren Thomas)

Due to a death in the family of one of the consultants, the New Paltz Town Planning Board agreed at its meeting on Monday night to continue the public hearing on the CVS/Five Guys project until June 22. Board chairman Mike Calimano, who was not present at Monday night’s meeting, had previously expressed a desire to close the hearing at this meeting and move forward with determining if this project will require a full environmental impact statement, a step which the growing voices in opposition would like the applicant to take. Such an analysis would result in additional costs and delays for the project, and the applicant’s attorney has made it clear that he does not feel it is necessary. The number and complexity of open questions has led to the continuous call for the board to issue a positive declaration of impact, which would trigger requiring an EIS be prepared.

This is a project which would transform one of the most highly visible lots in the town, nestled between the Thruway and North Putt Corners Road. The Putt Corners intersection with Main Street constrains all traffic from the east, and is rated a “C” by traffic experts at best. Even without putting retail on this site, the state Department of Transportation is considering upgrades to the intersection, in part to accommodate a bike path that will connect the Hudson Valley and Wallkill Valley rail trails. Adding an entrance ramp to the site from Main Street has given DOT engineers the opportunity to ask that the dedicated right-turn “slip lane” with yield sign be replaced with a signalized turn onto North Putt Corners instead.


Preparing this long, narrow and sloped site for a 13,225 square-foot CVS and a 2,600 Five Guys Pizza and Fries would involve removing all the trees and other vegetation and carting in 1,600 tri-axle trucks of fill to level to property. That would make it possible to construct the entrance off Main, as well as an entrance and exit onto North Putt Corners. Parking would be in front of the two stores, one of which would have a drive-through lane. The proposal is at odds with a number of requirements and design standards, leading the applicant to ask for waivers of some rules, such as the one calling for every tree that’s 12 inches in diameter at breast height be noted on the site plan. In requesting that waiver, attorney Charles Bazydlo indicated that since all trees are to be removed, putting them on the map would be an unnecessary burden. Whether the tremendous amount of fill — the source and composition of which has yet to be determined — runs afoul of the town’s clearing and grading law has not yet been discussed by the board. However, parking in front bucks a trend in design, both in New Paltz town and in other municipalities around the region.

Despite being told by deputy chairman Lyle Nolan that no official record of any testimony would be made at Monday’s meeting, ten people chose to speak against the project anyway. Reasons range from moral questions which are not technically the board’s to consider, like the disparity of pay between CVS employees and its CEO, to concerns about the impact on area traffic patterns, air and noise pollution. The traffic study, and its analysis by Ken Wersted of consultant Creighton Manning, have been particularly lambasted as inadequate. During Monday’s testimony, however, it was revealed that Creighton Manning, and Wersted in particular, have worked on behalf of CVS projects in recent years. Resident Michael Zierler called for the firm to be immediately replaced and the analysis reviewed by an independent firm. In addition to those impacts, questions of community character are frequently raised, often referencing the size and unimaginative design of the buildings, and accompanied by requests for more representations of what the project will look like from a number of different angles, including approaching southbound on the Thruway. The one drawing thus far presented was described by resident Kevin Borden as being from the perspective of “a leprechaun standing in the Sunoco parking lot.”

There are 8 comments

  1. Debbie

    What makes this area worth living in and traveling to is not the corporate garbage people can find just about anywhere in the country. It’s our small businesses, our farms and farm markets, our preserves, our mountains, our historical buildings and cemeteries, our antiques shops, our local crafts and local breweries, our good schools, etc. that make this place distinctive and beautiful. Can we please remember this is the Hudson Valley and not Paramus? CVS and Five Guys are creepy vampires. Low-wage businesses like these undermine the local economy and turn us into ANYTOWN, USA. They invest the least amount they can because the CEOs live elsewhere. When these people say they’re “bringing jobs” to community, don’t forget that you are bringing LABOR; anyone getting excited about low-wage jobs has a screw loose. These entities do not value your family’s wellbeing; they feed on human souls and cut every corner they possibly can. The money doesn’t go back into the community because the workers are underpaid, the value of surrounding homes are lowered, and local resources are squandered–and all the problems that come along with their projects get passed on to the little guy. This has been the mega chain store M.O. since there were mega chain stores–when will we learn?

    And the same goes for Wildberry Lodge too. Pretty much all the problems (and more) opponents to CVS/FiveGuys brought up at the last board meeting can be applied to the clowny resort project. While other NY counties are designated local aquifers under “Critical Environmental Area” status, New Paltz will be letting Wildberry Lodge pump (by their own estimate!) 68,000 gallons of water–DAILY–to run their chintzy plastic playground (and that’s another company with a high worker turnover and history of bad management). So sad to see New Paltz selling itself short.

  2. MaryAnn Tozzi

    I would LIKE to see something built there — along the lines of a CVS/5 Guys. Currently, there is a huge hotel being built across the street from this proposed site. THAT ALONE is going to bring in traffic. There will be nothing special about THIS CVS and 5 guys that will attract “extra” out of town traffic. Building this will actually help alleviate some of the downtown traffic. I do not “fear” for our “local” pharmacy or restaurants. The people who patronize “big chain stores” will go out of THIS town to utilize those places – why NOT keep that money here, while creating jobs and easing some of the tax burden on the home owners??

  3. NewPaltzOK

    A couple of things – the way people’s comments read you’d think a 65-story building were coming. That is not true by any stretch of even the most vivid imagination. First, the Hampton Inn being build replaces a derelict, unused property that had no benefit to the communities tax base or provided jobs. It also isn’t “huge” as some say, it is fairly standard. Remember, we’re a college and tourism driven community, that means visitors and families and business people coming to town. We have NO hotels of any quality or value at the moment. So, that’s just hysterics and nothing more.

    Beyond that, CVS and Five Guys are just as valid on the economic landscape as is the health food store in the Stop and Shop Plaza. They hire people who I’m guessing are paid just about exactly the same and provide services that we benefit from having in town – thus reducing miles driven to those retailers in other locations. So that’s a bit of hysterics, as well.

    We are a diverse community that needs to be able to serve ALL residents, not just the gluten free, yoga crowd. There, i said it. We Are PC-ing ourselves to death here. We should be able to be intelligent grownups and see the value of all kinds of local business. If not, then there’s a far greater problem that is to doom any future evolution of New Paltz. Period.

    With regard to CVS/5G, I absolutely agree that specific corner is a tough sell. Frankly, I’d build these two new businesses on the Street-facing parking lot of the Shop Right shopping center, tear down the dreary/dead unused portion of that plaza. It is ugly, it is half-empty and poorly designed. A re-design of that shopping plaza could improve parking, landscaping, Shop Rite store exterior and put new productive businesses like CVS/5G on that already cleared and prepped site. Alternatively, I’d tear down the filthy 87 motel and abandoned diner, redevelop that site with CVS/5G facing the street, parking behind, then a new three or four story hotel behind it – that site footprint is already zoned, and just needs to be bulldozed no matter what – it is hideous and a terrible statement about what New Paltz is or wants to be. Also, very little clearing of trees would be required.

    If folks could align on a re-use/re-develop concept like that (which many towns are doing, by the way) we’d all be better off, we’d get new businesses and not be knocking down a ‘virgin’ parcel of land.

    On that – these leafy parcels that are currently undeveloped at Main + Putt need to be purchased by the town, put in a conservation easement and made off-limits for future plans. Eventually our local volunteers -readers of this paper and website can raise money and volunteer their time to put a low-impact nature park on that site to demonstrate their genuine care and concern.

  4. jeremy

    Naturally people will oppose this because young people having a place to work in new paltz has and always will be a problem. Not to mention the revenue that np has already missed out on and that lyod and highland has gladly taken. The fact that NP is a small businesses town is seriously a joke, granted that may have been true 20 years ago but now the place is hurting because of the older people who don’t seem to enjoy progress and prosperity. Backs get bent over to appease the college students but how about doing something for the youth that actually live here full time for a change. On a side note I’d love to know where my $6500 in property taxes go because NP still continues to lack anything whatsoever for the youth to do. Maybe people should focus on that instead of declining growth, opportunity, and prosperity.

    1. Debbie

      My god, are you seriously suggesting that New Paltz should model itself after Lloyd and Highland? Progress and prosperity?! As someone who had to claw my way out of poverty, I know what it’s like to work at minimum wage, low skill jobs and it’s a dead end. These corps pay you the mimimum amount allowable by law–which means they’d pay you even less if they could. These types of businesses undermine the wellbeing of families and communities. Why would you welcome a company that values you so poorly?

  5. Eva

    Better to have a CVS and Five Guys built there than have rif-raff and druggies hang out at the place (which has happened).

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