If all goes as planned, a Starbucks restaurant could open across from the CVS Pharmacy in Saugerties in the mall officially called Grand Union Plaza on Route 32/212. The plan shows a 2,500 square-foot building with a driveway that roughly circles it, with an outlet to the parking lot that serves the plaza.
It may be some time before the new restaurant opens, as the developers must complete the approval process before the Planning Board, but will also need a ruling from the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) on the driveway plans for the store.
An earlier plan, presented to the Town of Saugerties Planning Board in March, raised some concerns, including parking, traffic patterns and the “stacking” area in front of the drive-thru window, said engineer Khattar Elmassalmah at the planners’ meeting on May 18. The result is a more traffic controlled layout, with the driveway wrapped around the perimeter, allowing for more cars in the line waiting for service without affecting the movement on the site, Elmassalmah said.
Planning Board chairman Howard Post said he could see the major difference in the newer layout; “you only have the one-way traffic going past the parking lot and up to the drive-in window where you order,” he said. There’s also a bypass lane that leads to the parking area, Elmassalmah said. “I can stack at least 14 cars.”
“It’s a much better plan,” Post said.
The plan doesn’t show landscaping or lighting, Elmassalmah said, because this will be worked out with Starbucks to meet their standards and also hopefully to meet the town’s standards.. The reason for bringing the plans in for the May 18 meeting was to lock in the basic plan and be sure the Planning Board would be agreeable to it. He hopes to have the landscaping and lighting on the plan for the next meeting.
Board member Ken Goldberg said he recalled the store in the application is for 2,000 square feet; the new plan shows 2,400. The improved layout required a bigger store area, Elmassalmah said. “This looks good to me; I like this,” said board member Carole Furman. “It’s not just good, it’s excellent,” said board member Mike Tiano.
One problem with the design is that if the side of the building facing the highway were to be designated the front of the building, the required zoning setbacks from the entry road to the plaza would cut through the building. “That’s the only real hiccup in this, unless I can consider that this building has two frontages — one facing the highway and one facing the entrance to the plaza,” the engineer said.
The board’s planning consultant, Adriana Beltrani, said the developer should apply for a determination from the. “The conventional wisdom is that your frontage is the main roadway; I’ve never heard of an access road being a front yard,” she said. “If we assume that your front yard is where a front yard [usually] is, you would need a variance.”
Post suggested that the Planning Board could refer the matter to the ZBA, while at the same time Elmassalmah could see whether building inspector Alvah Weeks would agree to consider the side of the building facing the entry road a front yard.
Another possible problem is that “you don’t quite have the parking you need,” Beltrani said. The plans show 14 parking spaces provided and 24 are required. “I’m using a previous precedent that actually this board allows them to do in gas stations and banks, Elmassalmah said. “We’ve always counted the drive through as parking space because it allows cars to be waiting, or …” “There’s nothing in the code that states that, so I would defer that to the board on that. There’s not a very defensible waiver provision, so unless you want to share parking …” Beltrani responded. “The owner of the lot is the owner of the plaza, and I have already consulted with them and they don’t have a problem; they say I can share parking,” Elmassalmah said.
“There’s a huge parking lot back there,” said Furman. “It seems crazy not to use it.”
“I can get some kind of agreement that X amount of parking would be shared; there’s no problem with that, Elmassalmah said.
The board voted to send the matter to the ZBA. The next step would be the submission of a more complete plan at the next board meeting.