Trustees set two public hearings related to the Village of New Paltz’s Historic Preservation Commission, both for April 27. One of these would focus on redesignating this as a Design Review Board and Historic Preservation Commission, leveraging the expertise of these volunteers by ensuring that they provide input on planning applications early in the process. The other is on the question of whether to create a second village historic district, this one encompassing slightly more area than is part of the state and federal districts along Main Street.
Commission chair Tom Olsen and Mayor Tim Rogers have been exploring ways to provide feedback on building and renovation designs early in the process for some years. The intent appears to be to prevent the sort of public outcry that arose when members of the public saw what the new structure at 51 Main Street looked like, by providing suggestions to developers that would improve how a particular design fits in with adjacent buildings before a lot of money is spent fleshing out those details, particularly in terms of what’s visible from the road. This type of review is presently required for projects within the only historic district in the Village, but it’s optional elsewhere.
The second historic district is being sought because federal and state designations provide no assurances whatsoever that the historic character will be preserved, but local code does provide for that sort of oversight. An example of what this would look like is the hotel/restaurant proposed for 184 Main Street: the developers voluntarily sought feedback from commission members, and the design for that building reflects that input.
Per the usual practice, Mayor Tim Rogers anticipates that both of these hearings will be left open for a number of meetings to allow for as much feedback as possible. Additionally, the mayor promised that letters to the editor and posts on social media would be used to encourage input from members of the public who are interested in the outcome of these hearings.