Usually, the Woodstock zoning board of appeals offers up quiet meetings. After all, the ZBA is a judiciary body, of sorts, rendering decisions based on the town’s zoning law.
That sense of quiet was broken on May 24 when a public hearing was held on several legal questions regarding requested variances by Tannery Brook Real Estate LLC to shift its plans for Woodstock Way, the high-end boutique hotel being built behind the Center for Photography at Woodstock between Tinker Street and the former Hillcrest Ave., now Sgt. Richard Quinn Drive.
Expect a similar crowd, and expression of growing neighborhood disquiet, at this week’s June 14 ZBA session when the board may or may not render a decision on the Woodstock Way requests, per zoning board of appeals secretary Michele Sehwerert.
The case in question, #18-10, will consider a situation where one building was constructed too close to a lot line, to adjust several parking allowances, and most importantly to decide whether a side patio to one building can be utilized for public outdoor seating for an expanded café/beverage service function of the hotel.
Two weeks ago, and in previous planning board hearings, an SRO crowd of neighbors to the new hotel said that the proposed patio expansion was for a change in use, calling the new café a “bar” that would change the nature of the neighborhood. Many have pointed out how Woodstock Way is being built in a residential zone, just off a strip long designated as Woodstock’s commercial zone, as well as the fact that the hamlet now has 20 establishments serving alcohol, with three within a short distance of the new lodging establishment.
In April, a Neher Street neighbor of Woodstock Way whose property backs onto the new café, Chris Wanker, hired an attorney to fight the new shifts in Woodstock Way’s plans. That attorney, Victoria Polidoro, pointed out in a letter at the time various problems that the new site plan amendment could face with previous zoning board of appeals’ variances and her belief that the entire project’s environmental review might need reopening.
On Sunday, June 10, other neighbors met to form a new Woodstock Neighbors Committee and hire another attorney to make comments at Thursday’s ZBA meeting.
“By and large people are angry and highly suspect of the Waterfall Way project. Many feel that they have been fed half truths or outright lies by the developers,” noted the meeting’s host, Mark Antman, in an email on Monday. “It looks like there are two agendas, much like there might be two sets of books. One for the public where people are told stories that seem agreeable and innocuous. The other agenda is their private version of what the project should include with complete disregard for the town, its traditions and history, the adjacent neighbors, and the values that brought many of us here.”
The new WNC urged people to attend this week’s zoning board meeting at the Comeau Property’s town offices starting at 6:30 p.m. Thursday June 14, and contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
The attorney they hired, John Cappello, is a lead partner at Jacobowitz and Gubits, and considered one of the state’s leading land use specialists who has worked with both developments and environmental causes.
The Woodstock Way project’s request for a café/bar will head back to the town planning board after the zoning board renders its decision.
Other projects on the agenda
Also on the agenda at the Thursday evening ZBA meeting will be several lot line adjustments and other residential matters, as well as a public hearing for Paul Fleishmann’s Thirty North LLC project to rebuild the long-defunct Lake Hill store as a new store and breakfast/lunch spot with apartments, which needs setback decisions before it can move forward at the planning board for a public hearing. There will also be possible discussion of variances needed for the ongoing renovation plans at Bradley Meadows, where Sunflower Natural Foods is starting a major expansion and the Bank of Greene County is moving into the former A&P/Bank of America structure nearby.
Pending planning issues involving a redo of the old Gypsy Wolf restaurant on Tinker Street by Michael Cioffi of Phoenicia Diner acclaim have been in front of Woodstock’s Commission for Civic Design of late, where it was also noted this week that design choices for the emerging wine and bagel bars on Mill Hill Road were okayed earlier this year.
Meanwhile, James and Janet Nelson’s proposal to put up apartments in the NC-1 Zoning District located at the corner of the Wittenberg-Glenford-Mt. Tremper Roads in the western part of town, left pending due to market conditions after receiving their permits over a year ago, has started construction.
Still outstanding in the planning process are a new service station on Route 28 cattycorner to Stewart’s, which held one sketch plan review and hasn’t returned in months, and another boutique hotel idea for a longstanding apartment building on Rock City Road.