Developers of a proposed three-story restaurant and hotel at 184 Main Street in New Paltz last week were unable to secure a variance of half of a required ten-foot rear yard setback from the Village of New Paltz’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
First proposed by Milton residents Violet and Ahmad Jamal in 2019, the 3,586-square-foot three-story building would include two floors of hotel rooms atop a ground floor restaurant, with a roof deck, plus a 25-space parking lot. The project is designed to look like a converted brick factory, but would be completely new.
The project has already had to overcome a variance hurdle due to its height exceeding the zoning regulation of a maximum of two-and-a-half stories, as well as the need for a special use permit for restaurants in that zone.
Local residents differ on the project’s impact on their homes. During a meeting held on Tuesday, August 9, Zoning Board Chairman Anthony Saracino read a letter from Belayet Khan, a resident who lives at 43 Center Street, that said they have had no concerns about the setback variance. But another letter from Will Hermes and Anne Galperin of 33 Center Street expressed multiple concerns, including worries about drainage.
“Center Street has major drainage issues that a development of this size seems very likely to exacerbate, and a smaller setback requirement could aggravate further,” read Hermes’ and Galperin’s letter. “We have regular flooding in our yard after moderate to heavy rains, as do our neighbors, some of whom have sump pumps in their basement.”
Hermes and Galperin added concerns about noise and parking, particularly when SUNY New Paltz is in session.
Representatives of the developers outlined their plans to address drainage concerns, including adding two dry wells and upgrading the pair of existing dry wells, also pitching parking to the north, thereby directing stormwater to Main Street.
“It’s important to note, with respect to Mr. Hermes’ concern that the site currently drains towards the northwest, which is the direction the existing dry wells and new dry wells would drain,” said Rick Alfandre of Alfandre Architecture. “Any over-storm overflow will be heading towards Main Street, not towards Center Street.”
Zoning Board member Sean O’Sullivan was unconvinced that this would work.
“I’m confused about how a dry well that’s going to pump water right into that area is going to alleviate someone’s basement problem,” O’Sullivan said. “It seems like it’s going to make the problem worse.”
Saracino said he didn’t understand why developers were seeking a setback variance rather than revisit their plans and find the space there.
“Why can’t you get five feet out of this building? I stayed in Manhattan last week and that room was a heck of a lot smaller than these rooms,” Saracino said, further suggesting that the developer consider reducing the size or number of the guest rooms.
“I know it’s going to be a little tighter, I completely understand that,” Saracino said. “There is smaller furniture that you could put in that room. I’ve seen that done. There are ways to design this.”
Saracino rejected the idea that the Zoning Board should consider what changing the scope of the project would mean financially.
“We don’t want to get into finances,” he said. “Because if you want me to start to base this on what you’re going to make off this hotel, stop. Even if this was ten rooms, you’ll do very well.”
Board members declined to vote on the variance, instead suggesting that developers go back to the drawing board.