New Paltz Historic Preservation Commission seeks public input on proposed code changes

A public forum will be held at New Paltz Village Hall on Wednesday, April 1 to inform residents about proposed revisions to the Village zoning code and solicit their input. The changes proposed by the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) to Chapters 9-16, 21, 23 and Chapter 86, Section 212 would expand the Commission’s mandate to provide guidance on design changes to properties within the Village, but outside the Huguenot Street Historic District and other existing landmarked properties.

According to a presentation that HPC chair Thomas Olsen made to the Village Board at its February 26 meeting, a disconnect exists between the protected status of downtown New Paltz on the State and National Registers of Historic Places and the limitations in the code of such protections to eleven landmarked buildings plus Huguenot Street. As a matter of public policy, the HPC is not necessarily consulted for guidance when a downtown building applies for a building permit, while applicants within the protected areas are required to obtain a Certificate of Appropriateness based on their planned designs and materials. As a result, buildings deemed eyesores by the public stand a greater chance of obtaining Planning Board approval, and HPC members end up with an earful of complaints. The code revisions would extend the requirement for applying for a Certificate of Appropriateness to developers and renovators in the entire Village.

Olsen made the case that, without such a process, downtown landowners will see their property values go down and residents’ quality of life will suffer as the Village’s historic character is eroded incrementally by small, poorly-thought-out changes. “Degradation occurs in tiny increments, not just by bulldozing,” he noted. He argued that contractors want guidance and clarity with regard to what is expected for the look of their planned projects, and that a certification process applied consistently across the board would take pressure off the Planning Board to answer aesthetic and historic preservation questions when it should be focused on core planning issues.


The HPC’s role would remain advisory under the new rules, and it would not impose limits on changes to interiors or surfaces not facing public thoroughfares, such as the rear walls of buildings. Mayor Tim Rogers compared the Commission’s mandate to a “consulting service to applicants,” noting, “We’re intentionally trying not to come up with a design standard.” “It’s subjective,” agreed trustee KT Tobin. “‘Appropriate’: What does that mean? We have to hit the sweet spot. I like our funky, shabby-chic aesthetic.”

There are 3 comments

  1. Margot

    Dear New Paltz:

    Prospect Street between Main and John Street is so brutally pot-hole butchered and has been, yet the town won’t pave the street.

    The town “code” and its approval process have kept a building and business owner from being able to complete their business on Main Street despite the fact that New Paltz is the party responsible for totally missing the details in their claim of exceeding the height restriction. This builidng sits empty, unfinished and sends a crazy negative message.

    The town “code” allows the Rock Yoga Building to have a hot mess of signage, yard “ornaments” and other stuff litering the visual landscape on Main Street.

    The town “code” allows the abandoned and grafitti covered diner at the Thruway to sit empty and be a drain on our local lack of tax revenue.

    The town “code” has held up CVS-Five Guys and the jobs, services, and tax revenue that we could be receiving from this property.

    The town “code” allows the old cup cake shop to sit empty, deteriorating, and holding up the prospect of new hotel rooms and a fresh building on that site.

    The town “code” doesn’t hold property owner accountable so we have acid-yello paint used on commercial builidings; we don’t encourage the China Restaurant to at least paint their building, and conceal the grease vents spraying the Chase parking lot with smoke and grease.

    Oh, and we do not have ANY reliable source of drinking water. For real.

    New Paltz needs to pull it’s head our of its ___________________ and stop blocking new positive projects; stop fighting the process that would benefit all of us…and yet they just choose to tinker and walk at a snail’s pace on historic review boards and PC nonsense.

    Where the hell is our leadership, our vision, and our future???!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!??!?!?

    1. Just Braying

      Prospect street between Main Street and john street is in the village, not the town. Prospect becomes town on the north side of Henry W.
      The former yarns on main street is in the village, not the town.
      The college diner is paying the same taxes now as it was before it was closed. It uses Sewer 6 district, which is town run and has nothing to do with the village’s sewer treatment plant .
      The proposed CVS store is classified by the town assessor as “wetlands” and is federally protected. That land used to be owned by the County, which paid no taxes on it. Now that land pays taxes, but cannot be developed without getting potable water from the Village, which is why a village landlord sits at the head of the Town’s planning board and is a town employee simultaneously.
      The cup-cake shop is still paying the same real property taxes it did before it was closed, and there is no reason for the owner to do nothing with his property if he so chooses.
      The China restaurant is in the village, not the town.
      In 1970, the city of new york water bureau announced that 50 years hence, all the 75 municipalities that get water from them should build a back-up water system by the year 2020. Of the 75, 74 did, but not the village of new Paltz.
      An historian is a prophet in reverse.
      If you need vision, see an optometrist. In the future, you can see the leadership at town board meetings, zoning board meetings, planning board meetings and village trustee meetings, village planning board meetings and village zoning board meetings. The Board of Assessment Review meeting is at the end of May, once a year, not held in public as required, by law but sequestered in a private conference room up at the buildings by the town dump. The village has no dump of its own, but does have spring and fall pickups, When the town tried an annual pickup, a local business dumped all its used tires out at 1 miller lane, and the cost of removing them was so high. it broke the budge and the town never had a spring pickup again.

      The village and town thrive on the confusion of the town and village taxpayers and that’s just how they like it in order to prosper for themselves.
      As they say in tag “You’re it.”

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