New Paltz Thruway area development freeze likely to expire without any changes to zoning

The intersection of Route 299 and Putt Corners in New Paltz. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

The moratorium on development in the gateway area of town near the Thruway in New Paltz is likely to expire before any new zoning regulations are passed, because Town Board members agreed last week to close the public hearing with no intention to vote on the code as written.

During the hearing, planner Liz Axelson of Morris Associates went over a set of lengthy objections prepared by herself and attorney Charles Martobano to the proposed changes. She appeared on behalf of the Panessa family, members of which are seeking to develop a project they’ve dubbed Ferris Woods. It would be 60 two-bedroom senior citizen apartments built in a wetland-dappled property between the end of Brouck Ferris Boulevard and the car wash on Route 299.

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The Ferris Woods project is dependent upon the existing zoning, while the new rules would shunt the property into the same R-1 zoning which covers the only street by which it could be accessed, Brouck Ferris Boulevard. The Panessas’ consultants raised a considerable number of objections, but many of them boiled down to a need for much more detail in the required environmental review. Axelson suggested not only a more detailed analysis of the zoning, but a lot-by-lot inventory in which would be laid out the specifics of exactly what would be possible under the new code.

Axelson argued that the pedestrian focus of the gateway plans could be imperiled by the lack of sufficient housing in the area, and said that rezoning in this manner would be a “missed opportunity” to reach the critical mass of local pedestrians needed to really draw in retail business owners. A community housing study could be conducted to bear that out, she maintained. In addition, Axelson told council members that the rationale for rezoning the Panessas’ land “is not there.”

Council members also heard that the wetlands and town-mandated buffer zones would be “left undisturbed.” The backup well locations identified are within the wetland buffer, as is the proposed entrance via the Diamond Car Wash property. That entrance as designed would use existing pavement, but the plans show a “proposed car wash pavement expansion” which would extend into the buffer.

Supervisor Neil Bettez acknowledged that some of the points Axelson raised were valid, and recommended closing the hearing to allow the town’s attorney and planner to review the comments. “It’s not physically possible to get all this done before the end of the moratorium,” he said; applicants who wish to move forward at that time, however, would be risking the possibility that the rules could change before final approval is granted by Planning Board members.

There are 4 comments

    1. Villager 33

      30 days from the time the planning board, zoning board and town gives approval. If nobody attends each and every meeting of those three boards to tell the news of the projects approval, you will never know until its too late. On top of that, the town lawyer is also the zoning board lawyer, so, even now, the fix is in, Federal and State wetlands protections not withstanding. Even the tax bill says that land is “wetlands” and that didn’t stop Mulberry Squared, Wetland ponds, the Hampton In, Victorian square, you name it. Even Zero Point on Mulberry Street is wetlands, and those 30 days already passed.

  1. Pritzker Prize

    This is just total New Paltz Nonsense!!!
    The ineffective leadership from planning, to highway department, to zoning, is bizarre. How are these people in capable of developing a plan in 12-months?! (Maybe this is why driving on Main Street is like going off-road in an atv.)

    Had they taken the lead and just gotten on with it here’s the logic to a smart plan.

    Regardless of PILOT reguests and all of the other things desired by developers and argued by localities.
    New Paltz should assign a 10% Fee (no matter what) based on the construction-development costs on any
    development construction costs moving forward – that go directly into 2 funds to be implemented locally.

    Further, New Paltz + Ulster + NY State need to start developing revenue-sharing projects. Virginia does this,
    for example, and towns and cities get everything from exit ramps to redesigned streets based on local and
    state money raised through means like this. Go there – the roads are immaculate, well designed, and service as infrastructure should. (Excess taxes are not raised to pay for these things!!! Revenue sharing and developer contributions do it! And it works.)

    FUND 1: Initially, pays for fast-track design and construction of a parallel trail running on the North side of 299 from Ohioville, behind the gas station, crossing 87 on a steel truss bridge (similar in style to the Mohonk trail bridges but obviously designed to cross the Thruway; Cross Putt Corners and connect to existing sidewalks. This would include solid and crushed stone pathway; access to business sites; low-leve lighting and would remove ALL pedestrians from traffic flow accept at regulated crossings. Safe and unimpeded pedestrain and bike traffic for several miles!)

    FUND 2: Pays into street paving and sidewalk maintenance town-wide.

    It could have begun with construction of the Hampton Inn…and be attached to all large projects moving forward…Wilberry Lodge; Redevelopment of the abandoned and graffit strewn old 87 hotel site; the 5 Guys site; and if Shoprite Plaza (dear god, please) could be redeveloped to bring it into the 21st Century; Zero Place, and all new development.

    Towns do this all the time and have extensive pedestrian friendly trails that are not hindered by traffic.

    Beyond this, I would have in place the pre-agreement to approve a new, energy efficient, Smaller footprint Bus Station building set along the sidewalk frontage of Main Street with three bays for buses located behind…solar, landscaping, sidewalk frontage and tables for the cafe. The current station is 30% larger than it needs to be because the space is wasted inside.

    I would located a 2-story parking structure at the Thruway bus stop, fitting exactly on the current surface
    parking lot; solar, landscaping and storm watercontrol included. Bus passenger pick-up/drop-off would be
    covered in Level 1 and we’d pull even more traffic off the roads by having twice the parking for commuters.
    (The rush hour gridlock here IS US, NOT TOURISTS…just to be clear.

    I would take the current surface lot behind Starbucks’ building and build a 2-3 story parking structure (the land profile would literally conceal 2-levels from current street level, with one actually rising above. Fronting the sidewalk would be 2-3 retail spaces; and above would be new office and a few condos. This would triple parking downtown without actually increasing street-level scale.

    THERE’S GOT TO BE A COHESIVE LONG-TERM PLAN THAT LOOKS AT THESE SITES > RE-USES THESE SITES WITH BETTER DESIGN AND LAND-USE PLANNING. It should be the town’s responsibility to lead this without alot of red tape!!

    It would pull the gaps in pedestrian flow, the lacking housing, the transportation together in a very planned, efficient and effective manner that benefits everyone; gets the projects built that allow us to prosper without having to rely on outward suburban old-style development.

    It is called IN-FILL and DENSITY – and the most successful, growing towns are doing it.

    Those, like New Paltz, that push and fight every step of the way to block anything new are the towns that suffer because that attitude does not sustain population, jobs, taxes, and open-space…without planning its all just piecemiel like New Paltz is today.

  2. Localgal

    Dear Prize,

    I agree with you, though we both know everyone reading your ideas shook “no way will this happen.” There is nothing and never will be nothing “new” about New Paltz. There are tears and moans everytime a street bulb is changed.
    To be clear….your ideas are genius!!!!! I looooove them!!!!! If only!!!!!!!!!

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