The large development project called New Paltz Apartments, which would provide beds for 650 people just south of the college campus along South Manheim Boulevard, will require a massive amount of expert help if volunteer planning board members want to be thorough in their review. A number of professionals including engineers, hydrologists, wetlands experts and others will be interviewed during an upcoming meeting. Charges billed by such professionals are typically reimbursed by the applicant.
Applicant Michael Moriello also has a team of consultants, who have finalized a proposed draft scope for the environmental impact statement. It’s been agreed that an EIS will be provided for this project, and it’s up to planning board members to decide what should be studied as part of that document — the scope. However, it’s also common for the applicant to propose a draft of that scoping document to be modified during board meetings and in response to public input, according to board attorney Rick Golden, and that’s how it’s going to happen this time.
What makes this project particularly unusual is that a request for the land to be annexed into the village is part of the application. Town and village board members won’t get to decide on that question until after the environmental review is completed, and it was decided to let village planning board members handle it since they’ll have to finalize the project if the annexation moves forward. Annexing the property into the village does not in any way remove it from the town, as every square foot of land inside the New Paltz village line is also part of the town.
Planning board members will probably have a draft scope to look at during their next meeting. Once they make any adjustments they see fit, a public hearing on the scope will be held, during which residents can speak to whether they feel the right questions will be studied as part of the EIS. Once the scope is accepted, it’s unlikely that it would be amended to add anything new.