The New Paltz Town Planning Board voted unanimously to grant the controversial Trans-Hudson project on State Route 299 near the Thruway a request for a waiver from a requirement that 50 percent of the walls facing the street be glass.
The requirement orders the ground level of new buildings in the Main Street Mixed-Used District to have at least a 50 percent glass surface vertically oriented on the side of the building facing the street.
In arguing for the waiver at Monday night’s Planning Board meeting, the project’s attorney Katharine Zalantis, noted this request was in line with the Town’s Zoning Board of Appeals previously granting a waiver from a two-story requirement in the Town’s zoning code.
These zoning codes seek to create more of a traditional neighborhood feel and higher density in future developments in-lieu of suburban-style strip malls fronted by a sea of parking. Town officials have said such regulations will help to rein in suburban sprawl and preserve open spaces in outlying areas of the Town.
“This specific standard prohibited franchise architecture,” Zalantis said, arguing for the waiver. She said more glass would only serve to move the development further away from a traditional look and make it look more like the form architecture favored by fast-food chains across the country.
This project has been in the cards since 2013 and has undergone a number of revisions, including the removal of a once-proposed 13,000-square-foot CVS Pharmacy from the proposal after the chain pulled out.
In the discussion, board member Lyle Nolan said he’d like to see windows on both of the building facades that face the street, keeping in line with zoning requirements that call for such a design.
Planning Board attorney Rick Golden said even after the 50-percent glass requirement was waived, the board could still require windows on each side of the building by a majority vote.
Board chair Adele Ruger said requiring windows on both sides of the building facing the street didn’t have to do with this applicant’s request.
Board member Jane Schanberg said she likes the more colonial-style architecture the developers have brought forth in their latest proposal and she added it does lend to somewhat smaller windows. Schanberg said she wants to ensure there would be ongoing collegial opportunities to discuss tweaks to the design after granting the waiver.
She feels that a helpful working relationship around the design of the project will help ensure it’s the best all-around. “We can do this very smoothly and achieve the best result all around,” she said.
Zalantis reassured the board that granting this waiver would not stop the board from suggesting ongoing tweaks in the proposal.