Wednesday , August 16 2017
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Public Weighs in on 23 Washington Street Project

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By Caitlin Croft

The regularly scheduled meeting of the Village Planning Board (VPB) was held on March 23 due to winter storm Stella and the New York State of Emergency on March 14. The meeting opened with the Public Hearing on PB-2017-02, a development project at 23 Washington Street, in the Historic District of the Village.

The proposed project is a 480-sq. ft. three-story addition to the rear of the building that will include an elevator and stairwell. The rear existing portion of the building will be reworked with matching brick to fit the aesthetic of the village. Also, the front Alpine-style deck will be replaced and expanded over the sidewalk and will return the building to a period aesthetic in compliance with Section 11 guidelines of the Village Law. This project will also include the renovation and addition of a 3rd floor that will be used for either retail or restaurant space and will include a 42-inch high wall around the top.

Engineer on the project, Aaron Tiller, has submitted a letter to the VPB that this project will be designed and held to the Section 11 guidelines as reassurance that the project will maintain the integrity of the village.

The application was complete at the February’s meeting of the VPB and they could move forward with the Public Hearing about the Site Plan Review, Architectural Review and Special Use Permit, despite the Village Zoning Board of appeals postponing their Public Hearing on the project.

There were many letters received from members of the village and there were many members of the village in attendance. The VPB thanked all of them for coming before opening the hearing as their input is valued by the board.

The first statement made about this proposed project involved the expansion of the deck. There are residential apartments on either side of this potential new deck and there is concern of noise and privacy. The attendees were split even, for the project and against.

One resident stated that this project would be great for the community as empty buildings do not look good in our village. The other concerns for this project include structural concerns: will the addition of a 3rd floor affect the buildings adjacent, how will parking be addressed as there is currently an easement through adjacent properties to access the rear of the property.

Another concern that was a recurring theme was the noise in the village and how they would intend to control it. Noise is a major issue in the village with the current bars and restaurants and noise ordinances not being enforced. Also, the current owners of the buildings adjacent do not want to see the value of their apartments diminish further due to added noise. To this, one member of the village stated anyone who moves to the village knows what they are getting into— it has been noisy for twenty-plus years; if you don’t want that atmosphere, elect to live just outside of the village.

There is concern regarding delivery trucks and how it will affect the flow of traffic. This is where a few members of the village stated this has been an issue for years. If a delivery truck is blocking a roadway, you turn around and enter from the other direction. Yes, it is a hassle, but is it worth having the tourist destination that we do.

The next statement was in favor of the project, stating we should trust the developer, Phil Vogt, as he has done magnificent work throughout the area and would not do anything to diminish the value and direction the village is going. To this, it was stated that they trust Vogt’s ability to do fine work, but they are concerned about disclosure of the project; what exactly will be done with the building once it is complete as there is not a clear-cut plan for post renovation.

Another concern is how construction and staging of this magnitude will impact the parking in the rear of the building. Another statement about employee parking was brought up —another recurring theme throughout the hearing.

After members of the public spoke, a lawyer, on behalf of an adjacent building owner, brought up concerns with the completeness of the project’s application and the processes and procedures of the VPB. He wants to ensure all proper steps are taken to ensure compliance with local and state law. He noted that in the application, there is not a full description of the project and there is no development schedule.

He also stated that there is nothing to address noise in the application along with added light spill and pollution. After the attorney’s comments, statements were made regarding the precedent we would be setting for future development in the village. Also, comments were made that these standards were not held up on many other projects in the village that have provided an extreme value to the local economy.

The public hearing was then closed and the VPB again thanked the public for attending as they need to hear their comments and concerns.

The three recurring themes were: the parking situation in the village, noise ordinance and enforcement, along with procedures and processes of the VPB. Attendees agreed all issues need to be sorted out.

The VPB deemed no action would be taken and the Special Use Permit, Site Plan Review and Architectural Review was tabled, as the comments from the public needed to be given consideration and a new list of requirements to the developer will be drawn up per concerns raised in the Public Hearing. The VPB also needs to wait until the April meeting of the ZBA and what their decision is regarding new zoning for the property. This meeting will be held on April 4, 2017. The VPB is off in April and their next regularly scheduled meeting will take place on May 9, 2017 at 5:30 p.m. at the Village/Town Hall.

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