Saugerties AutoZone approved

AutoZone developer John Joseph at a recent meeting of the town planning board. (Photo by David Gordon)

The Saugerties village planning board has given the green light to AutoZone’s plans to build a store near the intersection of Railroad and Ulster avenues. The ten-page approval motion, which passed 3-0 with one abstention, includes a number of conditions as well as the board’s findings of fact both for site-plan approval and a special-use permit.

The zoning is complex, as the property lies in four different zones. It straddles the I1 (industrial) and R-1 (single-family residential) districts in the village and the MDR (moderate density residential) and GB (general business) districts in the town. The applicant had to receive variances from the zoning board to operate at the site.


The site plan calls for a 64-by-115-foot building. The size and the potential for increased traffic in a busy area had aroused controversy. Developer John Joseph had argued that nearby buildings, even some that are somewhat smaller than his proposed store, appeared bigger because of their position and immediate proximity to other stores. The Saugerties Plaza shopping center is a short distance west of the proposed site.

The planners examined traffic, aesthetics, lighting, ingress and egress and other factors with an eye to “maximizing harmony with the neighborhood and neighboring properties; and ensuring the public health, safety and welfare.”

The board members went over the resolution carefully to be sure that the provisions were exactly what the board had decided. Over the months of discussion, the plan had been amended several times, and board members wanted to be sure the resolution was based on the final version of the plan.

For instance, planners questioned the height of the roof, which they had discussed lowering. Planner Scott Roeber said he recalled the board’s deciding to ask for a reduction in the height of the roof. However, after checking the minutes on his phone, Roeber reported that the board had discussed changing the roof’s height, but had not decided to require the change. 

Village attorney Benjamin Neidl provided the board with two versions of a resolution approving the site plan and permit, one which laid out a general conclusion and another that specified what the board had decided should be in the site plan.

Questions of lighting included whether the board had demanded shielding and a provision that the outside lights had to be turned off no later than one hour after the last employee left the building. Joseph noted that some lights would be left on inside the building for safety reasons, but the provision for turning off outside lights remained. 

Roeber looked up minutes of previous meetings where lighting was discussed to determine whether the board had voted to require shielding on the lights. “It was discussed, but I don’t see that we came to a resolution,” he said.

There was discussion about the colors of the building. Board members said they did not favor the usual AutoZone red and black. While the sign in the final illustration is red and black, Roeber said the red was a less dramatic shade, and the white was less stark than is usual on AutoZone buildings. 

As between the two versions of the resolution, Leahy said “I like the details, but I appreciate that having a catchall phrase is very helpful.”

The board voted to adopt the more detailed version, and the motion also included payment to Mazer Consulting and delivery of a document that Joseph had on his cell phone. He showed ot to the board members. The board did not, however, have a physical copy of the document.

In a related matter, the board granted a lot-line change proposed by Joanne Ostrander, the current owner of the property John Joseph’s company, Southern Realty and Development, will purchase once the details of its proposed AutoZone store are approved. The change helped  two neighbors who habitually used but did not own small land areas at the site.
The town planning board had earlier approved lot-line changes for the section of the property that lies within the town. That portion does not contain any part of the proposed store.