Despite threat of a possible lawsuit, members of the Village of Saugerties planning board voted unanimously at their July 13 meeting to grant a special-use permit and site-plan approval to Tom Struzzieri to use a building at the former Lynch‘s Marina on Ferry Street as a restaurant/special events venue.
Struzzieri apparently is wasting no time in opening the facility. He announced Tuesday, July 19 that the “Saugerties Steamboat Co., located at 2 Ferry Street in the Village of Saugerties, will open on Friday, July 22, as a restaurant, private event venue and recreational oasis. Formerly Lynch’s Marina, the 5,000 square foot property has undergone a detailed restoration over the last six months.” The release stated that the restaurant will be open Friday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
Prior to the vote, local attorney Lanny Walter, saying he represented a group calling itself Friends of the Saugerties Waterfront, stated he would go to court unless questions about noise and traffic from the proposed venue were addressed.
Walter did not say whether this group was associated with the Friends of Lynch’s Marina, which had also opposed Struzzieri’s plan.
Walter gave a lengthy summation prior to the board’s approval. Board members eventually stopped him, saying they had heard all the arguments at previous meetings.
Walter asked that all amplified music when a wedding is held at the venue be kept inside, with all windows and doors at the venue kept closed, and that the venue follow the village noise ordinance, which prohibits a noise level of more than 50 decibels from moving past a property’s boundaries.
Board member Mary Leahy asked Walter if he believed the board was giving Struzzieri special privilege. “I’m not implying anything,” Walter replied. If the approvals were not given that night, he said he’d happy to sit down with the board and Struzzieri and talk through the noise issue.
Walter also asked for a traffic impact study prior to approvals. “This is not a simple matter,” Walter said.
“If we pass this with conditions, do we still see you in court?” board chair Jeff Helmuth asked Walter. Walter did not reply.
Leahy said she had “trouble with idle threats.” “We have a rulebook to play by, and I resent your threats,” she told Walter.
Prior to voting, planners discussed a report on the project from the Ulster County planning board, which reviewed the project the previous week. Vincent McLaughlin, who represents Saugerties on the county board, said that every issue that Walter brought up had been “vetted by county planners.”
County planners said the county health department should see whether the building’s septic system was large enough to accommodate a venue that will be a restaurant and hold weddings. Struzzieri has said that at some point he intends to hook up to the village’s waste water system.
McLaughlin said the applicant has agreed to adhere to the village’s noise law. He said all the steps have been followed and that he supported giving Struzzieri approvals for the venue.
In granting its approvals, the village planning board added a number of conditions.
Struzzieri must make two parking spaces compliant with the federal ADA law and pave those spots as well as a pathway into the venue. He must adhere to the village noise law and not allow noise greater than 50 decibels to leave the property. There can be no amplified music after 11 p.m. (though they did not require that all windows and doors be closed, as asked for by Walter).
Under the terms of the site-plan approval, Struzzieri must also get county health department approval for the septic systen. He must get historic review board approval for the lighting outside the building and for signage for the venue.
To address traffic concerns, the planning board will ask village trustees to have a stop sign installed at the intersection of Mill and East Bridge to slow traffic from the venue. It decided there would not be enough traffic coming from the venue to warrant a traffic impact study.
After the approvals were given, Walter didn’t stay.
After the meeting, John Eickman, who works for Struzzieri, said the restaurant will be open Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It will have a limited menu. The food will be prepared at Diamond Mill, and sent down and plated at the new restaurant.
Eickman said the restaurant will open “soon.”
Eickman said he did not know when the first wedding would be held at the facility.