Unlike most of its recent meetings, the Woodstock zoning board of appeals rendered its decision regarding Tannery Brook Real Estate LLC’s requested variances for its Woodstock Way hotel complex as its last agenda item on August 9, rather than its first. They also opened up a “rehearing” to allow all of the project’s opponents on hand a chance to speak their concerns.
In the end, the ZBA approved all of the remaining area variances on the table before them, without discussion. But before the vote, board chair Maria Mendoza read a statement from Woodstock Way developers Ryan Giuliani and Jesse Halliburton which noted that they were not pursuing their variance request for the creation of a café with alcohol service in one of their buildings “at this time.”
“We’re here for everyone to get it out of their systems,” Mendoza added as she opened the public rehearing to two lists, one of contiguous neighbors and the second for “others.”
Chris Wanker, whose home abuts the building where a café/bar had been proposed, called for the issuance of stop work orders based on problems he saw with the Woodstock Way’s adherence to wetlands and waterways permits. His attorney suggested that any construction started towards a café/bar use should be removed.
Mark Antman, who helped put together an ad hoc committee in opposition to Woodstock Way’s recent changes, read a statement: “Our stand hasn’t changed from what was specifically agreed upon in 2016…Any consideration about a restaurant, a café, selling alcohol, a bar or using the location for events, conferences or catered affairs requires going back to the beginning and a new permission process would have to be undertaken,” he read from prepared notes.
He added his surprise at the level of support and conviction the town had shown his group on the issues, pointing out both how, “to live in a town where our shared heritage and values and pride in our town results in a commitment to protect it,” as well as the ironies involved in the way Woodstock Way’s developers are using “exactly these values” to publicize their business.
Terry Funk-Antman said the town should form a commission of some sort to look into the issues raised by the bar request and other effects of Woodstock’s “boom town” atmosphere of development.
Aileen McNally questioned the intensification of use at Woodstock Way, hinting at possible legal actions, as well as the bar/café materials she believes the developers have on site, regardless of their abandonment of recent plans.
Kristen Eberhard spoke about the number of variances such developments take to work their way into existence, and matters of precedence moving forward.
Former town supervisor Jeff Moran talked about his sense that “Woodstock is not a town that wants to grow…that’s the secret of our success.” He also warned the ZBA about starting to hand out use variances the way it’s been granting area variance, calling such things “a slippery slope.”
Olivia “Tinker” Twine brought up the fact that the developer’s attorney Ron Pordy had trained the zoning board, calling such things “swampy” and something the town board should address.
The board then voted, without discussion, to pass all the Woodstock Way area variances involving parking spaces and other setbacks where things were inched several feet closer to the property’s edges.
“This case is now closed,” Mendoza said.
Approval at wine bar and bagel shop
In similar fashion, earlier decisions okaying variances for higher-than-usual fences and a larger-than-okayed deck at the new wine bar and bagel shop being developed by Doug Ballinger were approved, without discussion. As were several other pending cases.
That of Paul Fleischmanns, for a revived store, restaurant and apartments on the site of the old Lake Hill store at the corner of Route 212 and Mink Hollow Road, was tabled… again without discussion, and just a unanimous vote.
After the meeting, Halliburton and Giuliani were asked what their plans were, next. Halliburton turned away and Giuliani said, “We have a hotel to open.”
He added that they were planning to have at least the first half of Woodstock Way up and running by Labor Day.