The Village of New Paltz Planning Board briskly covered a two-item agenda last week, discussing one residential application and one commercial plan.
The commercial application covered during the virtual meeting held on Tuesday, February 1, was a site plan amendment for a restaurant and bar called Lemon Squeeze. The business, at 107 Main Street, would modify the former Murphy’s Restaurant and Pub, which closed last year after 34 years in operation.
Little is known of The Lemon Squeeze beyond the information on the application, including whether it’s named after the popular Mohonk Mountain House hiking trail. The applicant, Ed Carroll of Huntington, was not in attendance during the virtual meeting.
The application has been before the Planning Board before, and was classified as a Type-2 Action under the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) act during a meeting on Tuesday, December 21. The Ulster County Planning Board has also deemed that there is no county impact from the proposal.
According to Planning Board Chairman John Litton, the New Paltz Historic Preservation Committee (HPC) asked that one window be moved, which was agreed to by the applicant. But board members agreed that there were still too many unanswered questions to be able to sign off on the application, particularly whether the applicant was the legal owner of the property, or was authorized by the owner to undergo work on the property.
“It’s not unusual for county records to be behind the curve a bit as far as having things updated on the electronic server for them as to record owner changes,” said Attorney Rick Golden. “But I don’t think that’s the situation here. I think it’s simply that Lemon Squeeze is not the actual owner, but simply a DBA (doing business as) or maybe the lease holder. But there’s no owner authorization from other than Lemon Squeeze, and Lemon Squeeze doesn’t look like it’s the owner…You can approve it, but you shouldn’t be signing any site plans until that is rectified.”
The board opted to await further clarification on ownership and other issues before approving the amended site plan, and may bring it up again at their meeting scheduled for Tuesday, February 15.
“There’s too many things that are outstanding and we need to have all of those resolved and in front of us, and presented, and approved, including the movement of the window that the HPC made a note of before we go with a draft resolution,” said Litton. “That’s just my personal feeling. I don’t want anything to be left out, and I want to make sure that we have all of the details taken care of and no loose ends. Because if there was a loose end, then it could cause the applicant to have to come back once more. To be fair to the applicant and to be fair to the Village, we need to have all that information together.”
The other agenda item was a review of an application for a new 2,000-sq. ft. three-bedroom house on a 1.913-acre plot at 27 Millbrook Road for Alex Peh, an associate professor of piano at SUNY New Paltz and 2021 Fulbright Global Scholar.
During the meeting, Litton read a letter from engineer Dennis Larios of Kingston-based Brinnier & Larios, P.C., indicating that a 300-sq. ft. rain garden is appropriate for a single family residential lot as a means of mitigating stormwater, but suggested a change of capture from the house roof to the garage entry and driveway area.
“Treatment of the runoff from this area will have a greater water quality impact than from the roof area,” read the Larios letter.
Denis McGee of the Planning Board said he was impressed with the plans, particularly the rain garden, which according to the plans will include arrowwood, winterberry, rhodora, switchgrass, cutleaf coneflower, swamp goldenrod, red milkweed, blue flag, fox sedge, cinnamon fern and New England aster.
“I thought it was really well done,” McGee said. “I was really interested in the rain garden and I thought Floyd (Kniffen, of Kniffen Builders) spent a lot of time on it, as well as the people working with him. It’s a very interesting concept, and I liked it a lot.”
The board approved the application subject to conditions such as a gravel-only driveway, compliance with the Ulster County Department of Health for well and septic locations, receipt of other approvals, and payment of all fees.