Neighbors of a proposed apartment complex on Jeffrey Court in Saugerties have a long list of reasons to oppose the development. They cite fire danger, traffic, crowding of roads and the incompatibility of two apartment buildings in a neighborhood of single-family houses.
Engineer Khattar Elmassalemah reviewed the plan at the regular meeting of the Town of Saugerties Planning Board on Tuesday, April 20. Jeffrey Court Properties LLC plans to build two, three-story apartment buildings with a total of 24 apartments on Jeffrey Court, a lane off Village Drive. While the parcel contains about 8.5 acres, the total area of disturbance would be less than the one acre that would require a site plan review, Elmassalemah said. The two buildings would be about 120 feet long, each of which would contain 12 apartment units of two bedrooms each. Elmassalemah further explained that access would be through the end of Jeffrey Court and that the project is served by public water and sewer. The buildings are three-stories high and the height to the roof peak is approximately 35 feet. Landscaping is profiled and lighting would be contained within the site with no spillage onto neighboring properties.
In opening the meeting to public comments, Planning Board chairman Howard Post asked that people not repeat questions that had previously been asked. He noted that the hearing would almost certainly be kept open.
Karen Deruyter said she had a list of questions, starting with the type of tenants the complex would likely house. “Is it low income, is it senior housing, is it working class?”
“There is no classification on it; it is not low-income or senior housing. It is just 24 apartment units,” Elmassalemah said.
“There will be a number of children in this development. On your plan there is no recreation for these children,” Deruyter said. “Where are these children to play? What schools are they going to? Currently the children in this development are going to different schools because the schools can’t handle the entire influx.” She also asked about snow removal, commenting that the town generally pushes snow on Jeffrey Court to the end, which the new development would block. Apparently, the only place would be federal wetlands, she said. “I could ask a lot of questions and we could go back and forth, but we have narrow roads, the height is 10 or 20 feet taller than the rest of the buildings, and this was a single-family development.” Deruyter said that when she signed her mortgage, it stated in the bylaws “that there were to be no multi-family buildings. How can it happen that there could be multi family here in a single-family development?”
Despite what Deruyter may have been told, “this is a high density residential,” Elmassalemah said. “The Town of Saugerties laws allow for this type of development. The maximum building height in this zone is actually 42 feet. This project is within the town zoning law.”
Where will the children play? “There is a recreation fee these developments pay and it goes into the expansion of the existing recreation areas in the Town of Saugerties. So they will have a place to play,” Elmassalemah said. He did not have an answer for where children living in the development would go to school.
“You bring up some valid points,” the engineer said. “I will be happy to look into them and try and give you an answer the next time we have a hearing.”
Planning consultant Adriana Beltrani suggested that with the long list of speakers, it might be better to let all of them ask their questions or make their comments, rather than try to answer each question as it comes up. Questions could also be submitted in writing, she said.
Ray Mendock of Canterbury Drive said the plan is not to scale, so it is difficult to tell just how far from his home it would be. He also questioned the potential effect on a nearby brook that would carry any contamination from road salting and snow plowing to the Hudson River. Mendock said he is also concerned that the upper stories of the buildings would look directly down on Canterbury Drive. Even if the developer screens the property with trees, “can you plant green giants that high to keep our privacy at somewhat of a normal level? Mendock asked whether the local fire department had a ladder truck that would reach the third story of the proposed buildings.
Bob Milson said his property is far more affected than that of others who spoke; he lives on Jeffrey Court. “We’re immediately adjacent to the last property on Jeffrey Court,” The proposed building is tall enough and close enough so “if it were to fall sideways, it would literally land on my house,” he said. “Privacy is not guaranteed,” Milson said, but he asked the planners if they “would work with the proposal in order to modify it to the point where there is transitional space between such wildly divergent types of housing, from single family to multi-unit.” He suggested that the board require at least 100 feet between the proposed apartments and the nearest house, preserving 75 feet of wooded space, reducing the number of stories to two and bringing the area of disturbance above two, so an environmental impact study would be required.
Michele Wright said the street is too narrow to allow parking on the street for residents and it would be impassable after a snow storm. She also told the board that an earlier proposal for three-story buildings had ultimately been rejected because the Glasco Fire Department said it did not have a truck that could deal with the height.
Tom Francello, who lives in Glasco and nowhere near the project, said he has spoken to several residents of Canterbury Drive, Village Drive and Jeffrey Court. “While talking with these clients, they talked about screening, but I put the brakes on with them because I told them that in the zoning law the parking lots and roadways need to be screened from any adjacent neighbors, which I don’t see in the proposed landscaping plan. I assume that’s something that’s going to be added down the road.”
Francello questioned whether the buildings will have gutters and if not, would the water runoff present a problem for residents of Jeffrey Court. But if they did, where would the water drain?
Agnes Laquidara said she is concerned about trucks delivering materials during construction, since when FedEx or UPS make deliveries on Jeffrey Court, they have to back out because the road is too narrow for them to turn around.
Altogether, 13 people spoke. Chairman Post said the hearing will be kept open to next month, “which will give Khattar a chance to answer your questions” and give the board further time to review the issues.