What happens if and when there’s a closing on the West Hurley School between the Onteora Central School District and Cedar Development East II, which has talked up plans for creating market-rate condominium apartments at the long-closed site in the midst of a quiet residential area?
Recent weeks have seen local residents express concerns to a Hurley town hall meeting at the West Hurley firehouse, and at an Onteora school board meeting, listing reports of slumlord charges against Cedar Development’s Kerry Danenberg from New York City tenants, citizen action groups, city building inspectors, and news publications while simultaneously asking town leaders to help them fight the proposed project. At that March 19 meeting Jana Martin, speaking for the West Hurley Neighborhood Association, presented lists of violations from properties that Danenberg owned in Brooklyn. She read quotes from city officials regarding building abuse, neglect and non-compliance.
Test drilling to determine water availability and quality at the site was also okayed by the school district, which has a contract with Cedar Development and undertaken by an Orange County firm hired by the developers.
Many in town have been speaking about meetings they’d heard the developers, including Brooklyn-based Danenberg and his Kingston attorney Michael Moriello, have had with town and county planners.
“We had a gateway meeting months ago but haven’t formally received anything as a proposal yet,” said Rob Liebowitz, Principal Planner and Referral Officer for the Ulster County Planning Department this week. “The meeting was mostly spoken, although they may have given us some very preliminary materials. They won’t return to us until their proposal has been deemed complete at the local level and a public hearing set. Only then does it return to us.”
In Hurley, town Code Enforcement Officer Glenn Hoffstatter said this week that his own preliminary meeting with Moriello and “another gentleman” was nearly a year ago now and focused on determining the number of units that the developers would be allowed to develop according to town zoning laws.
“A multi-unit development like they were proposing is allowed but would need a special use permit from the planning board. That’s based on a need for 40,000 square foot per unit on the property,” Hoffstatter said. “There’s been no formal application as yet.”
The code enforcement officer added that he couldn’t predict whether any variances would be needed for the development since such matters would “depend on the number of units proposed” among other things. Whenever the special use permit starts, so would a long list of necessities from environmental impact statements, SEQRA determinations, various traffic and other studies, public hearings, “and all kinds of wonderful things,” according to Hoffstatter.
No plans yet
The West Hurley School was first put on the market in the autumn of 2014, resulting in a an accepted bid from a nonprofit that didn’t pan out in the long run. After the school was listed with a different broker in the summer of 2016, the district went to contract with Cedar Development East II and a principal, Kerry Danenberg, in February of 2017.
When first announced last summer, the Cedar East/Danenberg development proposal was for a 46 unit multi-family apartment project in the 32,262 square foot Levins building and 11,282 square foot Ryan building, located on 36.3 acres on Cedar Street, that once made up the West Hurley school.
“I really haven’t seen anything,” Hoffstatter said. “I know they’ve run well tests at the property but that’s to see if there’s anything that will cancel the deal…There’s a lot of interpreting going on around the community.”
Calls and emails to Cedar Development East LLC and their local representatives were again not returned as we went to press. ++