Bart Panessa, who first proposed to build Ferris Woods on his family’s land off the end of Brouck Ferris Boulevard in 2014, is “feeling very discouraged” by the proposal to rezone the possibility of a senior-living facility out of existence. Liz Atcheson, a consultant on that project, shared those feelings with New Paltz Town Board members at their March 21 meeting. Neighbors had objected to the potential traffic on what is now a quiet dead end, and questions have also been raised about being able to cram 60 apartments onto a parcel riddled with wetlands. Atcheson noted that a new, scaled-back version of the proposal with only 48 units is soon to be unveiled at the Planning Board, and that in her view this “compact design” has “not that many environmental features being affected anymore,” and would nevertheless be less impactful than building a single-family home per acre in her view. She additionally called out that one of the proposed zones would allow for more intense use; that’s the floating resort zone which appears to have been tailored to the property for the proposed Wildberry Lodge.
“The moratorium has been over since June,” noted Town Supervisor Neil Bettez; he was suggesting that had Panessa submitted his redesign ten months ago, concerns about rezoning may have been moot by now.
Later in the meeting, council members set a public hearing on the new zoning for April 18. Discussion at the table included a focus on design standards: should they be broad or narrow? The wording in the draft included referents like Mohonk Mountain House, but council members thought that might be overly broad and difficult for planning board members to enforce. Pictures of specific example buildings got a warmer reception.
Michael Zierler, who has been helping coordinate review of the zoning changes, told council members, “I’m mixed about making it look like 300 years ago,” and thinks creating an “umbrella” of what fits in the community look is a better approach.
Another question is whether buildings in Ohioville should be allowed up to three stories, or be restricted to two. Three would be a change, but one which in theory could make room for more affordable housing. There’s hope that a law like the one in the village, requiring ten percent of all units to be affordable, might be passed for the remainder of the town. Builders are allowed to increase density to offset that affordability commitment. Allowing taller buildings might facilitate such an effort.
While it’s not required, council members agreed to send a mailing to all owners of property in the proposed zones, as well as owners of property adjacent to the borders of the new zones.