There will be no drive-through lane for the restaurant to be built next to the Thruway, and the buildings must have second stories. That’s what the New Paltz town board decided in reference to a request for waivers on the Trans-Hudson Management project for the property between interstate 87 and North Putt Corners Road along Route 299.
The zoning passed for this gateway zone requires that commercial buildings have a second story that is usable and forbid drive-through lanes. These can be waived during the planning process, but if the planning board vote is not unanimous — as in this case — the final call is made by the town board.
In denying the request. “Common sense dictates that no retail/commercial tenant can make sufficient use of, or seeks to lease two occupiable stories and therefore a waiver is requested,” the board explained. The applicant had failed to demonstrate any practical barrier to following that part of the law. From the resolution: “The second floor could be used for office space or studio space, among other permitted uses in the district. The applicant has not provided any evidence supporting its assertion that a second occupiable story for any use is impracticable.”
As for the drive-through, the applicant argued — and some planning-board members agreed — that it’s a matter of public health during the current pandemic. The purpose of the zoning passed last year was to make the area more amenable to pedestrians, according to the resolution. In addition, the pandemic, while serious, will be temporary. In the meantime, any business owner signing a lease to open a restaurant on the site “could easily repurpose proposed parking spaces for curbside delivery programs, which meet the needs of customers to remain in cars while allowing vehicles to be turned off while waiting. Smart phone apps will continue to evolve to make curbside ordering more convenient.”
With the Empire State Trail to run through or around this property, there is also a concern about pedestrian-vehicle conflicts. In addition to the applicant not providing much in the way of practical issues or alternatives, council members point out the very purpose of this zoning — increased density and reduced vehicle use — would be disrupted by granting these waivers.