Dave Barton, the building department director for the Town of Lloyd, was pleased at the turnout for last week’s informational meeting on the so-called “Village in the Hudson Valley” development off Route 9W adjacent to the Hudson Hills community south of the entrance to the Mid-Hudson Bridge. 311 notices had been sent to neighbors, and the community room at the Highland firehouse had few empty seats. What’s more, the people who did attend “will talk to their neighbors,” ensuring a high level of public input for this large project proposal.
The current version of the project is its third for the gated, age-segregated project on 53 acres. It calls for 130 individual cottage-like residences, and two four-story multi-unit residential buildings, which would have a total of 82 units between them. An assisted living facility would have 135 beds with varying levels of skilled care available, allowing residents of this development to remain there for the remainder of their days. An urgent care facility on the site will be the only portion of the project open to the general public.
Although the project property has frontage along both Routes 9W and 44/55, neither is suitable for access due to limitations of the topography. Traffic engineer Ken Worsted called it a “big nut to crack.” One alternative which was discarded was connecting to 9W at Argent Drive, but engineers didn’t find a safe way to integrate the new point of entry. Instead, the main entrance will be on Mayer Drive a short distance from the state road with the necessary secondary access off of Apple Lane. A traffic light, synchronized with the one at the Argent Drive corner, will be installed on Route 9W at Mayer Drive to facilitate access. A dead-end road will also be built to preserve the possibility of connecting to Phoenix Gables. Interconnected developments are now considered desirable by planners, but in this case, the neighboring property owner declined the invitation.
Worsted explained the methodology used in such traffic studies, which draw upon a number of models. Data from similar projects are used to anticipate that flow, and it’s added to baseline traffic found at the site and tweaked to show any expected increase over time. Vehicle flow all the way to South Gate was considered, he said, and projections for other projects now being considered or constructed was also factored in. A discussion with state transportation officials about cumulative impacts will also be scheduled.
Lindsey Decker wondered if drivers from the project on Chapel Hill Road might choose to avoid a light by cutting through Hudson Hills as traffic increases, but with 27 new stop signs being installed at intersections there, Brooks believes that “maybe they’d do it once if they think they’re going to save time,” but would then be disabused of the notion.
Architect Don Petricola spoke to the appearance of the project, which he said will be “a lot of people’s last home.” That thought inspired some care given to appearance, with pre-cast stone providing a “continuous thread” through cottages and larger buildings which will otherwise largely be either tan or gray. The cottages will be built to the specifications of their first owners, who will get to choose either the gray or tan color scheme, if the entrance is on the long or short wall of the rectangular building, and whether to include a dormer. Some of the cottages will have a mother-daughter style with connected garages. The four-story assisted living facility along Route 9W will be connected to the adjacent urgent care facility and have similar gables and dormers to provide a continuous visual impression for travelers along the state road. A clubhouse and pool house will also be tied into the theme.
There will be gardens and recreational facilities on the site, which may reduce the likelihood that any residents will choose to “wander” onto neighboring properties, which was a concern neighbor Regina Russell raised. In addition to fencing, the intention is to retain as much as the existing buffer of trees and vegetation as is aesthetically convenient and replace the rest.
This meeting was held early in the process, even if it feels fully fleshed out to some. Planning Board members have signaled their intent to become lead agency, giving them the authority to conduct the environmental review and coordinate the work of any group with the right to grant permits, but they haven’t assumed that status as yet. That review is used to determine if a detailed — and expensive — environmental impact statement is needed to address impacts and propose suitable mitigation by measuring against thresholds of impact in a variety of categories including noise, emissions, traffic and more amorphous concepts such as community character.