New Paltz planners consider “boutique lodging facility” proposed for village

A new hostel/inn is being proposed for 12 Plattekill Avenue to be used by the new owners of the Village Tea Room. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

The new owner of the former Village Tearoom property at 12 Plattekill Avenue wishes to convert the home on the New Paltz property to a “boutique lodging facility” dubbed The Vanderlyn. According to the application submitted on behalf of owner Claire Hussain to the village planning board, there will continue to be a restaurant on the property, and the staff there will keep an eye on things in the house next door, where guests will use the existing kitchen to fix themselves meals.

A four-room “boutique lodging facility” falls between definitional cracks in the zoning code. It’s not a hotel, which has at least ten rooms, and the owner of a bed-and-breakfast must live on the property. Building inspector Cory Wirthmann decided that the place should be considered a hostel, which according to the village zoning code is defined as “a place of transient lodging for recreational and educational travelers which provides dormitory-style sleeping accommodations and common communal areas, including a kitchen for use by guests.”

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Board members reasoned that “dormitory-style” could include individual rooms. They were skeptical that this application fits all the standards for hostels, particularly that “there shall be continuous staff supervision at the premises.” Would employees next store — albeit on the same property — meet the standard of “continuous supervision?” 

To John Oleske, not having staff in the building at all times made it simply a rooming house. Chair Eve Walter told Willingham “a really solid management plan,” not cameras and on-call personnel, would be needed.

Willingham was confident that enough parking for the guests would be achieved by removing two of the planters in front of the restaurant. When Village Tearoom owner Agnes Devereux was interviewed in March, she said that putting in the planters had saved the copper beech tree which is now a prominent feature of the property. The planters are in the tree’s drip line, an area arborists recommend reserving for water and nutrients, not building or parking.

Walter called the parking situation a “a beast,” but found hope in the possibility that guests could use the paid village lot, or the owner could pursue leasing village spots long-term. The prior owners were a one-car family. Board member Tom Rocco believes at least one more space could be added to the lot by simply reconfiguring the existing spaces.

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