New Paltz business owner wants to bury propane tank near Main St.

The building at 51 Main Street in New Paltz.

Yet another problem of Epimethean proportions now plagues the slow-speed construction of 51 Main Street in New Paltz, and for this one owner Dimitri Viglis is seeking intervention by village trustees, requesting the right to install an underground propane tank within three feet of a village-owned parking lot.

The problem is that there just isn’t enough room for everything on the lot; Viglis has maximized the height and coverage requirements for the lot, but still needs a way to provide cooking heat in the proposed restaurant. He wants to bury a propane tank around back, underneath where cars would park, but the property line is so close that to do that he will need to secure a right-of-way from the adjacent village lot.

Trustees and the mayor were skeptical.

Mayor Tim Rogers was not convinced by the information about propane tank safety Viglis provided. He noted that a village-owned oil tank right outside Village Hall passed a regular inspection shortly before a leak was discovered; cleaning that mess up has cost taxpayers $50,000 and counting.

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“Propane just disperses,” Viglis explained, rather than remaining in the ground like oil. Still, Rogers noted, there remains a combustibility risk, one which the mayor feels could be heightened by parking cars atop the tank. Plans to build a sprinkler system did not appear to ease his concern.

The tank cannot be simply placed in the back, because Viglis needs that space to comply with parking requirements. The original plan was to site the tank on a neighboring property, but Viglis explained that when he tried to get that understanding in writing, it was “like it never happened,” and most of his calls to that property owner were not returned. Rogers was unsympathetic to his plight, as he made the assumption about tank placement without securing a written agreement.

Viglis tried comparing his propane tank to the much larger gasoline tank buried at the Mobil station across North Chestnut Street, but that’s on private property, and does not encroach into the setback as this one would. The proximity of such a tank would likely reduce the value of the village property, if it were ever sold; Rogers and others feel that would be a disservice to taxpayers.

“Then you won’t get my property tax,” Viglis said.

Trustee Don Kerr, “trying to get to yes,” even went as far as suggesting that some parking could be waived in the densely-packed village core, where spaces are at a premium and business owners grumble about them not being available for paying customers.

At one point Viglis claimed he was being treated unfairly because he wasn’t born in New Paltz. “I wasn’t born here either,” said deputy mayor KT Tobin.

Rogers questioned Viglis’ long-term plans, saying, “You told people you wanted to get a [certificate of occupancy] and sell” the building, rather than open any business there.

Viglis refused suggested alternatives such as putting in an oil tank inside to reduce the size of the required propane tank; instead he claimed the only alternative would be to “dynamite Main Street” in order to put in a natural gas line. Rogers later noted that generally such lines are installed using lateral drilling, rather than explosives.

“It’s not our job to brainstorm this,” said Tobin, although she agreed that bringing this project to a conclusion after some four years of construction would be preferable. “The oil idea is a good one.”

The conversation ended with Viglis storming out of the room.

There are 19 comments

  1. Ed Norton

    First it was the creation of the village, then came the sewer plant, PCBs all over the campus, no more than a12 firemen member force. Utility companies die to put in new equipment, any where, any place, any time. If a developer gets charged with blasting dynamite without a permit and splitting the village-town pool apart and a second developer blow dynamite without a permit 6 ‘ from a live gas line all flagged out in cloth of black and yellow with a total fine of $1,000 to the municipality, what’s a little propane tank on Main Street?

    Speaking of Main Street, the only time we ever ventured there was for this guys falafel. Nice clean place with that Mediterranean diet the Greeks got from The Israelites.

    Take the gas pipe.

  2. Exhausted by This

    Gotta be real honest – this is all in New Paltz’s lap and they need to simply create a variance for the height and put the propane on the roof. There is ABSOLUTELY NO WAY NEW PALTZ SHOULD HAVE ISSUED PERMITS for construction and then leave a business owner holding the bag with an unfinished building!!! INSANITY. Clearly the Town/Village did not read the design plans? The heigh and the lot where clearly designed into them…and they ignored it, allowing money, time, and construction to take place in a fashion that the site can’t be completed!!! INSANITY! Our highly selective approval-disapproval-judgement in New Paltz is mind-melting. We kill new business while we do absolutely nothing about requiring existing businesses to live up to code.

    Our jumble of old, abandoned, and out-date properties litter Main Street and Route 32; We can’t even improve the entrance and exit lanes feeding Main Street at Top’s Center and Dunkin Donuts – an illogival squeeze of road that should have longer and wider turn lanes as well as thru-lanes.

    We have abandoned grafittied properties at the 87 Hotel Site; the old cupcake cafe site; the hideous
    monstrosity of a building with antiques and noodles; China House; a woefully outdated bus station…even the town can’t take action on consolidation of offices — a years-long conversation.

    New Paltz should be planning a parking garage with mixed us retail.
    New Paltz should have long approved the new hotel and parking at ‘the pit’.
    New Paltz should have paved Main Street from the river to Putt Corners this Summer…didn’t happen.
    New Paltz should be working actively and aggressively with the owners of the derelict Shop Rite Plaza to
    get new facades installed; new lighting, and reconfigure the parking with more native landscaping.
    Nope.
    Nada.
    Nothing.
    New Paltz gets an F-.

    Come on! So you waste your time targeting a business owner who’s trying to bring a newly built, modern
    facility to Main Street.

    WHAT
    A
    JOKE.

  3. Steve Greenfield

    Interesting choice by Terence Ward to open this article about a Greek man, trying to deal with a “law of unintended consequences” bundled with what may be a Catch-22 built into conflicting zoning laws, with what could be perceived as an ethnic insult. Epimetheus was not just any Titan, but specifically the god of afterthought and excuses. Very clever, sir, in assuming that your editors and readers would not catch the reference. New Paltz Times, I think you owe Dimitri Viglis and Greek people a prompt apology and a change in the text for your online edition.

  4. FunkieGunkie

    What kind of planning board let this happen in the first place. The building does not fit the architectural aesthetics of the neighborhood and is a complete eyesore. It’s been vacant for almost two years with no improvements happening and has major issues with height restrictions being overlooked in the plans. Now this!!! Oy vey!!!

  5. TAXPAYER

    When the mayor worked finance down in the city he helped ruin lives and the economy in ’08.
    Ten years later he still ruining lives and the local economy.

  6. Richard

    The village should never have granted any waivers to that monstrosity and should do no more for this self-entitled owner. His attitude towards regulation and the community standards are to whittle them away with tiny cuts as they arise, rather than having done the job of evaluation during the design phase.

  7. Your Local Assessor

    this guy still has to pay real property taxes. If we use the income-capitalization method, then zero income divided into no-revenue would mean to taxes at all. Except for the Gardiner library district tax.

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