Village Planning Board members seemed wary of a proposal for an AutoZone branch at 298 Ulster Ave., questioning developers on how they would design the building to fit into its suburban surroundings and whether the site’s driveway would worsen traffic conditions in its proximity. Whether or not the addition would jeopardize the “harmony of the village” was discussed at length.
“We really need to see how big this is going to be and how high up it’s going to be,” said board chair Mary Lahey. “For me, that’s a big concern, how it marries with what’s there now. [Considering] the mass of the building and the lighting, I’m just concerned with how it’s married to its environment.”
The storefront of the building would face Ulster Avenue where Route 212 and Route 32 converge, while the CSX railroad tracks bisecting that road would run along its left side and Railroad Avenue would lie to its right. To the right and behind the building are two suburban homes, the latter being taller than the auto parts store’s proposed height.
“People slow down so much to go over the tracks,” said Lahey. “If you’re sitting there, now you’re waiting for the westbound traffic but as you’re waiting all of these people coming from the eastbound almost come to a roll to go over the tracks. It’s congested right there.”
A vehicular study of the area in 2007 determined that about 35 trains and 12,000 cars pass through the area each day. Twenty years ago, the state Department of Transportation suggested a grade separation, a method of aligning two pieces of road at different heights, to prevent accidents and lessen traffic delays.
Board members were also concerned that the proposed building would look out of place with the taller residential home that would loom above it; foliage options to screen adjacent properties were discussed at length, but the project is not far enough along for developers to know what types of trees would be planted. The prospect of five-gallon shrubs and two- to three-foot trees, which would eventually grow taller, was brought up. Planning board members said that 18 accidents had taken place in the area within six and a half years. Board members said they were concerned about where the site’s driveway would be located, saying that a front-facing one would result in visual obstructions for drivers turning left out of the parking lot.
Copies of the application and plan can be viewed at the village clerk’s office, and the opportunity for
the public to voice their support or concerns for the project is available until the board’s next meeting on June 12, when the project will be discussed next.