New Paltz’s newly configured Village Board held its first meeting on June 10, picking its way through a long agenda with few actions taken.
The most significant decision of the evening was to form an ad hoc committee to revisit recent changes in zoning law as it pertains to the B-3 Gateway District for North Chestnut Street. The action was taken in response to recent memoranda from the Planning Board and village planner David Gilmour requesting clarification of some of the wording that seemed to them contradictory or where the previous Village Board’s intent or “expected standards” was not apparent.
Gilmour said that, since the code was changed, the Planning Board had found itself contending with a flurry of applications for site plan review for minor modifications that previously would not have needed a permit, including construction projects that would bring a site into better conformity with the code. Mayor Rogers agreed that “the legislation ended up being too broad,” and made a motion to set up a committee to “tighten up the code” for the district, “not just to look at the law but to make recommendations.”
The motion passed 4-0, with new board member Don Kerr excused from the meeting. Mayor Rogers and trustee Tom Rocco will represent the Village Board on the committee, which will also include Gilmour along with Planning Board members Michael Zierler and Liz Harshow.
Much of the discussion at the new Village Board’s first meeting was devoted to public comment, with many residents from Prospect Street and other streets in the vicinity of the Adirondack Trailways station in attendance to air their objections to the proposal by the Ulster County Transportation Council to expand the station and build a 100-car parking lot behind 123 Main Street to accommodate bus commuters. In addition to the concerns that residents of Prospect Street have already raised about the impact of increased traffic on their quiet residential street and the safety of their children, several people pointed out that the cars already using the 123 Main parking lot create a public nuisance to those whose properties border on the lot, with late-night noise, exhaust fumes and headlights shining into the windows of residences. Orchard Heights resident Christina Carp and Barbara Youngman of Village Gardens both pointed out that proposals for the redevelopment of the lot have been shot down before due to anticipated negative impacts on neighbors, and have “never been approved by any board,” according to Youngman.
While a number of Prospect Street residents continued to urge adoption of the alternate identified potential bus station site on North Chestnut Street, combining the Park & Ride across the street from Stewart’s and the adjoining lot where the STS building recently burned down, they were reminded at the meeting that the Route 32 corridor also abuts residential neighborhoods. “Many residents who live behind the rail trail are concerned, even though we have a buffer,” said Andrea Russo, who lives on Huguenot Street. “We have similar concerns about noise and air and light pollution.”
“I take your concerns very seriously,” the new mayor assured the residents who spoke out, adding that he had scheduled a meeting to discuss the bus station issue with head county planner Dennis Doyle. “There are no final plans.” trustee Rebecca Rotzler, who is continuing in her role as deputy mayor, also hastened to reassure anxious neighbors. “The folks from the county who conducted the meeting — it’s not up to them what the final decision is. It’s up to the town and village.”