With the town’s gateway development moratorium in its final weeks, Wildberry Lodge was back on the New Paltz Town Planning Board agenda on December 11. The purpose was to hash out details of how to approach the application as well as to reacquaint board members with those details.
Originally planned as a water park, the Wildberry Lodge proposal is now a more modest, phased project, with the first portion centering on a 90-room “contemporary modern barn” hotel designed by local architect Rick Alfandre, and a butterfly conservatory of 3-6,000 square feet that would also be suitable for catered events. The facility would also house event space for 150 with a demonstration kitchen, a “local merchandise and craft shop” and spa facilities. The 57-acre property, where both Walmart and Crossroads were once proposed to be built, is located between the Thruway, Rt. 299 and South Ohioville Rd.
An environmental impact statement is necessary for this project, and what guides the content of an EIS is the scoping document prepared after hearings on that topic. That scope was prepared with a water park in mind, but that’s not going to derail the process. An EIS is supposed to include alternatives to the proposed development in a separate section. Most developers pay lip service to that requirement, but in this case it will be central to the document, because the alternative presented to the water park will be the butterfly conservatory. The water park idea was nixed when it was discovered that the aquifer underneath that property, which is large enough that it was being considered as part of the community’s backup water supply, was discovered to be unacceptably salty
Board members will be asked to look at what’s considered the preferred alternative on paper as the actual project, satisfying the requirements of the scoping document.
What remains in flux are the code changes which are expected to result from the work of the ad hoc committee, which was created to define zoning rules for the gateway area of town near the Thruway, where both Wildberry Lodge and the CVS/Five Guys plaza proposals are located.