The Town of Gardiner’s most notoriously accident-prone hamlet, the intersection known as Benton Corners, is being targeted for the creation of a new agribusiness hub, on a hitherto-undeveloped 4.78-acre lot across Route 44/55 from Lombardi’s Italian Restaurant and across Bruynswick Road from Base Camp. The New York State Department of Transportation (DOT) is expected to install a traffic light sometime in 2023 at the intersection, which has been the site of frequent automobile and motorcycle collisions over the years, occasionally fatal.
A company called Full Circle, LLC came before the Gardiner Planning Board at its November 15 meeting to present its site plan for a business complex that would include a 4,720-square-foot main building housing a service business, retail and a bakery, clustered with a separate 1,120-square-foot farm store, a 600-square-foot coffeehouse and a 600-square-foot greenhouse for growing microgreens, with a plaza in the middle. The site, located on the northeast corner of the intersection, would also become home to two small freestanding offices intended for wellness services, plus a separate bathroom building to serve them.
Adjacent to Bruynswick Road would be an 820-square-foot storage structure for equipment used by owner Mike Benevento’s other business, Hudson Valley Trailworks. The latter building, and especially the extra exit meant to serve it, were the most contentious features to catch the Planning Board’s collective eyes at the introductory meeting. The main entrance/exit is also positioned on Bruynswick, slightly closer to the dicey intersection. “Do you even need that second driveway?” queried Board member Marc Moran.
“It’s easier if you have a tractor/trailer,” Benevento explained, noting that the garage was intended to house trailbuilding machinery when not in use. “Bike trails are our passion. We built some down by the Transfer Station and hope to have some here as well.”
The plaza in the center of the main group of buildings would have “seating areas in the shade,” dictating the layout of the smaller structures at a diagonal orientation to 44/55 instead of forming a lateral wall facing the busy road. The greenhouse in particular would need to be oriented south/southwest for optimal solar gain, Benevento noted.
The central plaza would be “largely open space, but we hope to offer some programming,” he added. “Our aim is to create a spot where we can hang out and have good fun. We’re looking to create a community space.”
While the Board did not seem overtly hostile to the proposal, and Moran said, “I like the design,” chair Paul Colucci warned, “The DOT is going to have a problem with the driveways.” Board member Josh Verleun urged Benevento to “consider a traffic study.”
The Planning Board ultimately agreed to undertake a coordinated State Environmental Quality Review of the site plan and voted to declare itself lead agency. A public hearing on the project will be scheduled at a later date. Plans for the Full Circle project can be perused via the Dropbox link at www.townofgardiner.org/planning-board-agenda.