The developer who wants to construct a hotel, restaurant, banquet hall and offices atop two levels of underground parking on the 2.4-acre parcel along Hasbrouck Avenue in New Paltz that’s colloquially known as the “pit” has a bit more work to do before the site plan is ready for prime time. While Luis Martinez, principal of the Lalo Group, has agreed that it’s appropriate to draft an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the environmental review, New Paltz Village Planning Board members aren’t ready to move ahead with drafting a scope for that document. There are a number of details that need to be included before they will feel that they can understand the dimensions of the project. For example, no details have been included about the layout of the parking garage at all. Per the applicant’s attorney, John Capello, the hope has been to minimize the expense of engineering to develop more of the specifics. That’s a common hope among developers, but in this case they will not be able to hold the line.
Some members of the public are starting to ask questions about restrictions that may be in force on this property, and whether the proposed use would be possible under them. Planning Board attorney Rick Golden explained that it would be beyond Planning Board authority to enforce private agreements that result in easements and the like; the only standards that can be applied during an application review come from the zoning rules. The limits of Planning Board authority over the ownership and control of this parcel has been a topic of discussion for a very long time: it was raised at the meeting of January 19, 1973, when a different project was being proposed for the “pit.” This had largely been village land until a few years earlier, and not everyone was convinced that the sale was on the up-and-up. However, it’s noted in the minutes that the board attorney at the time advised that board members would not consider “assertions that the conveyance by which the applicant’s lessor obtained certain of the premises from the Village of New Paltz in 1968 was illegal.”
Capello is clearly aware that there are unanswered questions about the chain of title and what it means for this project. In addition to easements for parking spaces and a “paper road” called Vanderlyn Avenue, a 1968 deed includes stipulations that restrict building size on one portion to a fraction of the land area, with the remainder to be dedicated to parking and parkland. What Capello wishes to do is to address these questions in the EIS itself, using that formal process to explain why the applicant believes that this project should not be hampered by some of those old agreements. The attorney did not provide more detail at the meeting, preferring to wait for the opportunity to respond fully and in writing.
Among the details that Golden believes should be on the plan before moving forward are any and all easements now in effect, as well as the location of a stream that runs along on edge of the property. While the “pit” is often moist, it’s not a wetland; it became a dumping ground for runoff from neighboring properties before that practice was abolished under state storm water management rules.
Attorney Capello did speak more to the indirect economic benefits, saying that the principal of the tech company Sam Six is committed to leasing much of the office space, and some portion of the hotel guests would be coming to confer with employees of that company. The promise is for high-paying tech jobs in the village.