The Village of New Paltz Planning Board is still considering a special use permit for the opening of a marijuana dispensary at Zero Place, a mixed-use building at 87 North Chestnut Street. The potential business avoided being referred to the Ulster County Planning Board last week, but is still in limbo while awaiting a traffic management plan from a municipal consultant.
Net-Zero Development, LLC is seeking approval for a retail use not currently listed in zoning for Zero Place for approximately 4,000 square-feet of retail space, plus an additional 800 square-feet of office and storage space. The property is listed in the Neighborhood Business Residential zone, and in addition to ground floor retail space, also has 25 two-bedroom and 21 one-bedroom units across three stories.
The dispensary is likely to open as an appointment-only business for an indeterminate period of time to ensure the parking lot isn’t overwhelmed and unusable for residents and other retail tenants. At a Planning Board meeting held on Tuesday, July 16, David Shepler, a partner at Zero Place, but not one of the dispensary applicants, addressed a series of traffic and congestion questions previously asked in writing by the Planning Board.
To begin with, the appointment-only system would mean no walk-up business, and Shepler said anyone coming to the dispensary without an appointment would be directed to visit the business’s website to make one.
At the time, Shepler also called sending customers to the nearby Moriello Pool parking lot during overflow conditions a “contingency on a contingency”
During a follow-up discussion about the dispensary at a Planning Board meeting held on Tuesday, September 6, New Paltz resident Jane Schanberg spoke out against the idea of the parking lot at a public pool being used by a business.
“I would like to say, I think that the optics of this are really very, very poor and that it’s a very poor idea in the same way that having overflow parking for a bar or an adult store at the Moriello Pool…during daytime hours would be,” Schanberg said. “I think it’s also bad public policy and it sets a bad precedent that one resident or business could use public parking space where others aren’t allowed. It’s really the same as residents like myself not being able to use, or my guests not being able to use parking spaces at SUNY.”
Last week, Shepler said that Moriello was no longer on the table.
“We made, I think pretty clear arguments…for why we don’t need extra parking,” Shepler said. “This was just to give you extra assurance from this kind of notion of, oh my gosh, maybe people show up without appointments and they’ll wander the streets aimlessly, or want to pull over somewhere and try to get an appointment, and all these kind of hypotheticals. Um, but what’s clear if you talk to people like (consultant) Phil Grealy, is that appointment-based systems are used all over the place to manage surges.”
Shepler said the plan was to provide the village with weekly appointment reports while appointment-based shopping at the dispensary is in place.
“There’s lots of checks in here, and we don’t even need to talk about this notion of overflow,” Shepler said.
How long the appointment-based shopping would be in place is still undetermined, and Shepler posited that it could be lifted during hours that are seen to be slower while further monitoring is done during busier hours.
New York State, which legalized recreational use of marijuana in 2021, just began taking applications for retail dispensaries last week, with licensed sale expected to be underway by early 2023. While it’s unclear if and when a dispensary will open at Zero Place, the Planning Board recently focused its attention on traffic.
During a meeting of the Planning Board held on Tuesday, July 16, Carlito Holt, a planning engineer and partner at DTS Provident, discussed the hurdles in conducting a traffic study for a type of business that isn’t currently in operation anywhere in the state.
“Unfortunately, you’re dealing with a use that not yet exists in the state of New York, so it makes it a little trickier,” Holt said.
Last week, the Village Board felt strongly enough that the pieces were in place to schedule a public hearing on the special use permit for the dispensary at their meeting scheduled for Tuesday, October 4.
“We are going to state that we do not believe that there’s an increase in parking spaces that will be required,” said Planning Board Chairman John Litton, adding that the Board would reach out to its traffic management consultant to ensure that the study is received in time for the public hearing.
The next meeting of the Village of New Paltz Planning Board is scheduled for Tuesday, September 20.