Half a dozen residents spoke at a public hearing on a proposed zoning change for a section of Teetsel Street off Route 212. The hearing preceded the regular village board meeting on February 19.
Richard Rothe has proposed a change in the zoning on a part of Teetsel Street from B-2 (business) to R-2 (single and two-family homes). The change would allow him to seek a special-use permit to build twelve townhouse units on the property. The R-2 zone does not allow townhouses, which are attached row houses rather than free-standing one or two-family structures. The village planning board approved a subdivision of Rothe’s 2.5-acres into six lots in 2006, but the zoning precluded construction of townhouses on the lots.
The speakers opposed the proposal, with most citing traffic problems for residents attempting to merge onto Route 212. Pointing out that the current zoning would allow for up to six two-family houses, Rothe said the zoning change would not create more traffic than the current zoning already allows.
Mark Imhoff, who lives on Teetsel Street, would not like to be told how he could use his property. However, “the infrastructure on Teetsel Street is not such that we can handle any more traffic,” he said. The street was so narrow at Route 212 that “if a truck is delivering fuel oil to someone’s house you have to wait till he’s done so you can get out.”
Imhoff also cited the sewer system, which is 100 years old and cannot handle the current waste, let alone additional waste. The village water supply could not handle the additional demand, either..
Mayor William Murphy corrected Imhoff on one point. The current demand for water is 800,000 gallons, while the system can provide 1.28 million.
Bill Washburn, also a resident, said the current zoning “would work out perfect on that street.” Townhouses wouldn’t. “It’s just too much,” he said. “You guys are going to have to cite eminent domain. You will have to widen that road.”
Washburn seconded Imhoff’s assertion that the road is so narrow that the road would be blocked if an emergency or service vehicle were parked on it.
John Livermore, who does not live on Teetsel Street, said he sympathizes with the residents. His main concern, he said, was his belief that Richard Rothe does poor quality work, based on one experience.
Rothe later described the projects he has constructed around Saugerties as evidence that he produces quality structures. “I employ local people,” he added, “and I spend my money and donate my time here in my community.”
Other speakers elaborated on the inadequacy of the road to handle the additional traffic and the sewer to handle additional effluent. Mayor Murphy said the village was working on street and sewer-line improvement. Trustee Donald Hackett said money has tentatively been set aside for sewer-line improvement on Teetsel Street.
Not changing the zoning would not mean that nothing could be built on the lots he owns. “Right now, as it stands, we could put a factory in there,” argued Rothe. “We could put a bowling alley. I just want people to understand what we’re hearing tonight.”
Rothe defended townhouses. “Mr. Washburn said he would be okay with two-family units. I don’t understand the logic behind the difference between six two-family unit and twelve townhouses,” Rothe said. “I threw the number twelve out there because it is no more than what could be developed there with nothing more than a building permit.”
Rother noted in a prepared statement that he was a lifelong resident of the town as well as a local businessman. “You may be familiar with some of the projects my company has performed over the past 15 years: Paraco [gas] Building, Bella Luna Restaurant, townhouses located behind Stella’s, and the interior renovations we recently completed at the Ohana Café. My engineering company also designed and gained approval for the Boys and Girls Club located adjacent to the village hall, a 100 percent donation to the youth of Saugerties.” Rothe also listed a number of activities in which he is involved.
Rothe noted has been paying taxes for a decade on this property. “If I can develop it in a way that provides taxes for the town, decent places for people to live and generates some income for me, everyone wins,” he argued. “I’m simply asking you to look at this proposal with an open mind.” The land uses permitted in the current zoning of the property are not appropriate for the neighborhood, he said. While he would be allowed to build the same number of units in free standing two-family houses, the townhouse design would allow him to cluster all the houses on the most buildable portion of the property.
Murphy said the board would probably make a decision at its next meeting on March 4.