The Village of New Paltz Planning Board last week approved an application to change an existing single family residence into a two-family residence, but some neighbors are concerned about what the change might mean for the neighborhood.
The 2,238 square-foot house owned by Jon Lazar sits on an 0.38-acre lot at the corner of North Manheim Boulevard and Henry W. DuBois Drive. In the submitted plans, the two levels of the house would be separated into a pair of units, with a garage for each.
The first floor would include a three-bedroom unit with two bathrooms, a kitchen, dining room and living room, and would include access to an existing nearly 213-square foot deck.
The basement level would be turned into a one-bedroom unit with a living room and small kitchen. Construction of a new 1,071-square foot bluestone patio at the basement level is also in the plans.
Between each of the attached single-car garages in the plan and an existing two-car garage at the edge of the driveway, there is enough covered parking to accommodate four cars, one each for the amount of proposed bedrooms. A further two parking spaces in the driveway are also possible.
The project has already been before the Ulster County Planning Board, which saw no impact at the county level. But two neighbors of the 38 North Manheim Boulevard property shared their concerns about how approving the house being divided into a pair of rental units would impact the nearby homeowners, particularly in a college town.
“There is no ordinance that says you cannot, as far as I know, rent to students, but the ever increasing student population is becoming quite burdensome for a number of factors,” said next door neighbor Lecia Zulak. “Noise level, parking issues, just overall I would call it disarray. Garbage is oftentimes left out…non-maintenance of the property.”
Nearby homeowner Barbara Holt shared similar misgivings.
“I really don’t like the idea of a very nice family-style house that two people really work on to make nice being turned into a multiple dwelling, and I don’t think there’s any reason for that,” Holt said, “I’m not sure what the balance is of families versus students on our block at this moment, but whenever possible we would like to turn the balance more towards families. It’s kind of a well-known fact that student houses are not kept up as nicely or rental houses in general.”
Holt added that parking on the street, where there aren’t any sidewalks, is already tough on local residents who have to navigate traffic on walks.
“I am firmly against changing this lovely home into a two-family residence,” Holt said. “I don’t know what his plans would be, whether he’d Airbnb it or what, but I don’t approve of that.”
Zulak added that she was concerned that drainage from the bluestone patio would send water toward her property, but said she’d spoken to Lazar and was assured it wouldn’t be a problem, not only with the eventual design, but also with the edge of the patio being 25-feet away from the lot line.
Later in the meeting, Lazar stressed that he would be willing to consider amending the patio plans, including what it’s made of, to ensure it wouldn’t present a drainage issue for neighbors.
“I don’t have a decision at this time, but if it would help the application then, you know, we’re willing to do something that’s…less impervious, as well as the gravel under the bluestone. We’re indifferent to this as long as the pavers are bluestone.”
Planning Board members agreed to conditionally approve the plans in part with the stipulation that potential drainage from the patio is satisfactorily addressed with the inclusion of a permeable surface of gravel beneath the bluestone pavers to assist in the drainage.
“If it’s not going to be a hardship on the applicant, then more drainage is better,” said Board Chairman John Litton. “I think this will also be very helpful with regards to your neighbor who has concerns about drainage, and it just may alleviate some of those concerns.”
Litton also addressed other concerns of the neighbors, though added that they weren’t under the purview of the Planning Board.
“The quantity of non-owner occupied housing tips heavily towards the majority as opposed to owner occupied, and that has been occurring for many years,” he said. “That’s something that may need to be addressed directly to the Village Board as opposed to the Planning Board. Our job is to make sure that they conform to the regulations that are stipulated.”