The owner of the Diamond Car Wash, located on Route 299 in New Paltz, wants to replace that business with an apartment complex, because it’s never been a money-maker. Brian Tietje received a free pre-application review from Town of New Paltz Planning Board members at their January 25 meeting. The preliminary proposal is to build a two-story building with 22 units on the 1.61-acre parcel. The first-floor apartments would be built to be accessible to those using wheelchairs and other means of assistance.
Consultant John Sullivan told board members that Tietje purchased the business nearly ten years ago, and it’s “been a loss since.” Diamond Car Wash has been on that site since the mid-’90s, according to Sullivan. That the business is that old seemed to come as a surprise to board member Matt DiDonna, who lives on nearby Brouck Ferris Road. The parcel in question would have been the site of emergency access to a larger complex proposed at the end of that road, but Ferris Woods Apartments became impossible to approve when zoning in the eastern part of town was overhauled in recent years.
According to engineering calculations that have been done, 22 one- and two-bedroom apartments wouldn’t require as much water to operate as the car wash does. Tietje believes that the two existing wells would be sufficient to support the residents. Repurposing the sewer hookup is not something that would cause additional undue strain on the system, the owner told board members; an innovation being considered is to repurpose the water-reclamation system of the car wash into a gray-water system for the flushing of toilets to reduce the load.
Just as with the adjacent land that was proposed for the Ferris Woods development, on this lot wetlands are a concern. Some board members expressed concern that the proposal looked to be encroaching on the wetlands buffer. Building an emergency access road and drilling a well in the wetlands buffer were two sticking points when Ferris Woods was being considered, and it appears that current board members were signaling a similar reluctance to allow access to that protective buffer for any reason.
Member Amy Cohen praised the idea of offering wheelchair-accessible apartments, but also pressed Tietje on amenities that residents would have available. The developer hopes to put washers and dryers in the units and to provide outdoor spaces for congregation and recreation.
Other comments suggested the view that this wouldn’t be a very pleasant living situation. The project is adjacent to high-tension power lines, Lyle Nolan pointed out, and would dominate the view for at least some residents. The units are also not particularly large: 600 to 650 square feet for one bedroom, and 800 to 850 square feet for two. Calling that “a little snug,” Jane Schanberg expressed some surprise that this would include space for a washing machine and dryer.
“There are thousands of decisions to be made,” said Tietje. The discussion was cut off at about that point, as these free reviews are intended to last no more than 15 minutes. If Tietje pays the necessary fee and files an application after considering the feedback, board members — and, eventually, other town residents as well — will have ample time to provide additional feedback on the proposal. If recent history is an indicator of future behavior, quite a bit more will be said before any sort of decision is reached on this proposal.