Lake Hill reawakening

The old Lake Hill General Store (photo by Dion Ogust)

A proposal to build a new store and breakfast/lunch spot where the Lake Hill General Store, popularly known in its last incarnation as Murphy’s, once stood at the corner of Mink Hollow Road and Route 212, came under consideration at the Woodstock Planning Board meeting on May 3, as did more discussion of the Woodstock Way hotel and a request for a special use permit for a dog boarding and day care facility.

Lake Hill property owner Paul Fleischmann and architect David Minch presented a sketch plan of their proposed store at Mink Hollow Road, to replace a dilapidated structure that once was a store but has been closed for decades. Minch spoke about how the addition of two upstairs apartments, not for short term use, above the business would help ensure its stability, in lines with similar efforts around the area that have seen such mixed-use projects succeed where standalone stores and restaurants have often failed.

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“We admire the idea of your neighborhood commercial zones,” the architect added, addressing a little-used element in Woodstock’s zoning intended to keep its heritage rural hamlet areas alive. “We have the opportunity to make something successful here.”

Ensuing discussion noted the challenges of working within an idiosyncratic site that’s noticeably “a little squeezed,” while also pointing out the neighborhood commercial classification’s “latitude for setbacks” and other zoning liabilities.

The basic plan that Fleischmann is looking to get approved would be for a similar open-gabled building to what’s been at the Mink Hollow Road/212 junction for years, rising a bit higher in the back and with 16 parking spaces. Minch noted that he wants to “replicate the footprint” of what’s there, and work with and around an existing hemlock tree and large maple.

There would be 600 square feet dedicated for retail operations downstairs, alongside 500 square feet for a dining area serving breakfast and lunch. A commercial kitchen would be built to code, with the two single bedroom apartments upstairs hosting living rooms above that kitchen. The hope is to also replicate the original Lake Hill Store’s red siding and barn-like look, complete with vaulted ceilings in the commercial spaces downstairs.

Planning board members told Fleischmann and Minch to take their proposal to the ZBA, and then return once they’ve received all needed variances.

Woodstock Way waits for more public hearing

Attorney Ron Pordy, architect Brad Will, and project co-developer Jesse Halliburton came before the board to discuss the reopening of a public hearing on their proposal, brought forth last month, to add a hotel café, with alcohol sales, to their approved hotel plans. They noted how, since their last appearance, plans for a café patio had shrunk, hours had been limited to a include a 10 p.m. patio shut-off, and no outdoor music or amplified sound would occur. Pordy added that he was also answering a letter from a neighbor’s attorney.

Planning board member Paul Shultis Jr., who had previously recused himself from consideration of the Woodstock Way project because a company he worked for had been bidding for work with its developers, noted that it would be best not to discuss anything regarding the hotel project outside of a public hearing. He pointed out that since his company had not been hired by Woodstock Way’s developers, he didn’t feel there were any outstanding ethical issues that would require him to remain recused in regards to the project.

When Pordy said there was no legal requirement that items regarding Woodstock Way not be discussed, other planning board members backed Shultis in saying they’d be more comfortable showing respect for the project’s neighbors by holding off discussion anyway.

The developers were asked to take their proposal for a changed use in one of their buildings, from check-in and office to café/bar, to the ZBA. They were tentatively set for a June 7 resumption of their public hearing.

No SUP for dog day care

Lisa Bonk’s request for a special use permit to operate a dog day care and boarding operation at her property on Playhouse Lane met with near-unanimous opposition during a public hearing. Neighbors talked about the nuisance sounds of barking dogs, the potential stench of dog waste, and traffic challenges for a quiet neighborhood.

The planning board pointed out that Bonk’s property was directly across from a state regulated wetland area that was one of the challenges dealt with several years back when RUPCO won approval for its Woodstock Commons affordable housing development, whose main entrance is down the street off Playhouse Lane. With a stream running through Bonk’s property, they noted, it would be close to impossible to not affect those wetlands.

The board unanimously rejected Bonk’s application for an SUP.

In other planning board business, board members agreed to propose to the town board that the town waive usually-required parking fees for the Bradley Meadows complex, where Sunflower is currently undergoing expansion, due the property owner’s commitment of between $15,000 and $18,000 to put in rapid charging stations for electrical vehicles.

There is one comment

  1. John E. "Jack" Marquardt

    Paul Smart’s May 16 piece on the Lake Hill general store brought back fond memories of the 1930s and 40s when the establishment was called the “Trading Post,” and was operated by my great, great uncle, Julius A. Simpson. At that the, the general store and gasoline station was also the Lake Hill Post Office, with Uncle “Jules” as its Postmaster.

    Jack Marquardt
    Tokyo, Japan

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