COUNSELORS AT LAW
12 January 2010 Mr. George Lewandowski, Chairman, and Members of the Board Village of Saugerties Planning Board Village Hall 43 Partition Street Saugerties, New York 12477-1134 Re: Project Name: Partition Street Project Applicant: Partition Street Project, LLC Premises Location: Partition & Dock Streets, Village of Saugerties, New York
Dear Mr. Lewandowski and Members of the Board: Grant & Lyons represents Saugerties Citizens for Smart Development (“CSD”), a group of citizens concerned about the impacts of the Partition Street Project. This letter follows up their Memorandum of Comment dated 08 December 2009. It also provides a response to the letter dated 17 December 2009 submitted to you by Michael Moriello, Esq., the applicant’s attorney. Mr. Moriello’s Letter Lacks Substantive Response to CSD’s Concerns Mr. Moriello’s letter does not provide a substantive response to the very specific potential adverse environmental impacts raised in the CSD Memorandum of Comment. Mr. Moriello asserts generally that full consideration is being given to adverse environmental impacts. But virtually no specifics are provided. For instance, the specific issues CSD raised about the impacts on historic resources, scenic resources and community character are not addressed. I remind you that the standard which the courts will apply to your Determination of Significance would be whether you took a “hard look” at all of the significant adverse environmental impacts of this proposed project, and whether all of those impacts have been mitigated to the “maximum extent practicable,” as required by the State Environmental Quality Review Act (“SEQRA”). So substantively, Mr. Monello’s letter does not respond to CSD’s issues. The Closed Character of the SEQRA Review Thus Far Mr. Moriello’s letter is an apt commentary on the environmental review process thus far. Tellingly, he devotes most of his letter to arguments about how the technical time frames in
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12 January 2010 Mr. George Lewandowski, Chairman, and Members of the Board Re: Partition Street Project SEQRA can be used as a basis for you to legally ignore CSD’s comments. This continues the applicant’s pattern of boxing-out public comment and pursuing a process which has been virtually devoid of public participation. While pending for a year or so, the public has had only a single evening to speak on the record about this application. Mr. Moriello asserts that a full environmental review is being conducted. But if that is true, then why didn’t the applicant encourage a Positive Declaration from the beginning? The reason seems to be that the applicant wants the review done with virtually no participation by the public. And so far that has been the case. Citizen concerns have been stifled by Planning Board meetings which, although open to the public, do not allow the public an opportunity to speak. any communities allow public comment at planning board meetings. This is a matter of policy not law. Your Board could change its policy and allow the public greater access to the process. Even when CSD members have asked to appear on the Planning Board agenda, they have been told that only the applicant can be on the agenda. And indeed, the applicant has spoken and made presentations often. Taken together, these factors create the appearance that the applicant has far greater access to Planning Board members than do the members of the public whose interests the Planning Board is supposed to represent. The applicant’s documents are not easily found by the public. In a full environmental review they would be easily accessible on the Internet. Neither does the public receive any notice of the applicant’s submissions. Together, all these factors add up to a process virtually closed to the public, something which is antithetical to the spirit of SEQRA. This raises an important question. What is the applicant afraid of? Stringency of Review: Embrace the Standard Championed by Congressman Hinchey on Other Projects And this raises another important question. Shouldn’t the same standard be applied to all applicants? Congressman Hinchey is an investor in this project. In 2006, along with Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, Congressman Hinchey wrote a letter to the City of Kingston Planning Board Chairman, Lee Molyneaux. That letter commented on Kingston’s environmental review of the proposed Hudson Landing project. The letter urged the Kingston Planning Board to make sure the City Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (“LWRP”) was honored during that review. So important was the letter, that the Congressman issued a press release announcing the letter. In his letter, Congressman Hinchey stated: Dear Mr. Molyneaux: We are feeling development pressures throughout our communities in the
12 January 2010 Mr. George Lewandowski, Chairman, and Members of the Board Re: Partition Street Project
Hudson River Valley and Catskills Region. We have always taken a firm stand in support of our existing environmental review procedures and requiring any would-be developers to meet the exacting requirements set forth under New York State and local law and rules. We believe our review processes work well. The City of Kingston Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP) serves as an excellent blueprint providing the City and residents alike the ability and resources to ensure that proposed developments fit within their vision for the future of the waterfront. It also provides greater protection for the ecologically and culturally significant resources that are integral to local economic revitalization. However, the plan can be effective only to the extent to which the process is adhered (sic). Recent media reports regarding ongoing discussions with [the applicant/developer] AVR Realty over their proposed Landing project have fueled speculation that the LWRP may be circumvented in an effort to meet AVR’s demands. We urge you Fthe Chairmani and the Planning Board to publically affirm your collective commitment to continued compliance with the LWRP. We also encourage you to continue to build upon your exemplary record of making the process accessible to the public by promptly disclosing any new development information, including any negotiated modifications to the Landing project. As the process continues to move forward, it is critical that the City address several unresolved issues surrounding the proposed development. Among these are public access to the waterfront... (emphasis added)
The full letter and press release are attached. CSD wishes that the principles the Congressman advocated in Kingston were being applied to this project. But apparently, a review adhering to the letter and spirit of the process, public access to the project documents, and public access to the waterfront are issues important to the Congressman only when the project belongs to someone else. All CSD asks you to do is to adhere to the letter and spirit of SEQRA in this case. It’s the same thing that the Congressman urged Kingston to do regarding Hudson Landing. As a community, doesn’t Saugerties deserve the same care and quality of review as Kingston? And shouldn’t all citizens be required to abide by the same standards and rules?
12 January 2010 Mr. George Lewandowski, Chairman, and Re: Partition Street Project
embers of the Board
LWRP Compliance & Public Access: A Return to the Vision Championed by the Village & Congressman Hinchey The Congressman’s letter raises the issue of consideration of LWRP compliance as a vital part of the environmental review of the project. Saugerties’ LWRP ought to be an integral part of the SEQRA review of this project. As far as CSD can tell, compliance with the Village LWRP has not been a significant part of the SEQRA review of this project. The EAF ignored LWRP compliance. It simply acknowledged the LWRP but punted the issue of compliance ahead to the Village Waterfront Advisory Board (“WAB”). This is a serious misstep. Numerous policies of the LWRP are germane to this project. While the determination of consistency will be made by the WAB, where a project will have potential adverse environmental impacts on resources within the coastal zone, then compliance with LWRP policies must be a substantive part of the SEQRA review. Regarding this project, consider, for instance, the following excerpts from the Village of Saugerties LWRP. Policy 1: Restore, revitalize, and redevelop deteriorated and underutilized waterfront areas for commercial and industrial, cultural, recreational and other compatible uses. Explanation of Policy: In determining whether an action proposed to take place in the waterfront area is suitable, the following guidelines will be used:
The action must lead to development which is compatible with the character of the area, with consideration given to scale, architectural style, density, and intensity of use;
The action should improve adiacent and upland views of the water, and at a minimum, must not affect these views in an insensitive manner;
Policy 19: Protect, maintain and increase the levels and types of access to public water-related recreation resources and facilities so that these resources and facilities may be fully utilized by all the public in accordance with reasonably anticipated public recreation needs and the protection of historic and natural resources. In providing such access, priority shall be given to public beaches, boating facilities, fishing areas and waterfront parks.
12 January 2010 Mr. George Lewandowski, Chairman, and Members of the Board Re: Partition Street Project Policy 22: Development, when located adjacent to the shore, shall provide for water-related recreation, as a multiple use, whenever such recreational use is appropriate in light of reasonably anticipated demand for such activities and the primary purpose of the development. Policy 22A: Where possible, access shall be provided in conjunction with action by other public agencies, such as DOT, DEC and OPR, as well as through coordination with private development. Explanation of Policy: Certain waterfront developments such as residential projects, hydroelectric plants and maritime commercial uses present practical opportunities for providing recreation facilities as an additional use of the site or facility. Therefore, whenever such developments are located adiacent to the shore they should, to the fullest extent permitted by existing law, provide for some form of water-related recreation use unless there are compelling reasons why any form of such recreation would not be compatible with the development, or a reasonable demand for public use cannot be foreseen. (Emphasis added throughout) The foregoing sample excerpts from the Village LWRP clearly establish the importance of the preservation of scenic views, conformity with historic and community character and public access to the waterfront. Project impacts adverse coastal resources and in violation of these policies must be part of SEQRA review in order to ensure that those impacts will be properly studied and mitigated. Congressman Hinchey’s views on the importance of compliance with a local LWRP are obvious from his statements in Kingston. And as for public access, the Congressman obviously felt that was important and worth fighting for in Kingston. Why not in Saugerties? Here, CSD did not conjure its desire for a walkway along the bluff out of thin air. That vision was initiated by Village Mayor Bob Yerick and the Cantine Paper Mill Park Steering Committee. And importantly, that vision was supported by Congressman Hinchey at the time. As the Congressman correctly stated in his letter, proposed developments should fit within a community’s vision for its waterfront.
12 January 2010 Mr. George Lewandowski, Chairman, and Members of the Board Re: Partition Street Project
Conclusion: A Positive Declaration is Warranted CSD urges you in the strongest possible terms to issue a Positive Declaration for this project and require a full environmental review. It is only through that full review that: (1) proper public access to the project information will occur; (2) proper public participation will be had; (3) a proper consideration of project alternatives will take place as is required by SEQRA; and (4) the full breadth of impacts will be studied and proper mitigation required. The simple fact is that the historic Village of Saugerties is a jewel and worthy of careful care and protection. And this site is one of its most prominent historic and scenic assets. Although the applicant might seek to dismiss the CSD members as crazy tree-huggers, the simple fact is that CSD is on record as stating that they suDport this proiect. But at the same time, they are rightly concerned about some of its impacts, impacts which appear to have been ignored. CSD’s participation is not about causing grief or expense to the applicant or stopping the project. CSD’s participation is about caring for Saugerties. CSD’s participation is about preserving some of the most important aspects of the project site, properly mitigating impacts, and getting the Village of Saugerties the quality project it deserves. CSD seeks to ensure that this project, when built, will be a valuable asset to the Village and the region for years to come. Thank you for your time, attention and consideration. Very tru G ours, YONS, LLP
Saugerties i itizens for Smart Development Michael Mo ello, Esq., Attorney for the Applicant
MAURICE D. IIINCIIEY DISTRICT, NEW YORK
KEVIN A. CAHILL ASSEMBLYMEMBER
CONGRESS OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES 2431 Rayburn House Office Building Washingtion, DC 20515-3222 (202) 225-6335
THE ASSEMBLY STATE OF NEW YORK 557 Legislative Office Building Albany, New York 12248 (518) 455-4436
October 25, 2006
Lee Molyneaux Chair of the Planning Board 420 Broadway Kingston, New York 12401 Dear Mr. Molyneax: We are feeling development pressures throughout our communities in the Hudson River Valley and Catskills Region. We have always taken a firm stand in support of our existing environmental review procedures and requiring any would-be developers to meet the exacting requirements set forth under New York State and local law and rules. We believe our review processes work well. The City of Kingston Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP) serves as an excellent blueprint providing the City and residents alike the ability and resources to ensure that proposed developments fit within their vision for the future of their waterfront. It also provides greater protection for the ecologically and culturally significant resources that are integral to local and regional economic revitalization. However, the plan can be effective only to the extent to which the process is adhered. Recent media reports regarding ongoing discussions with AVR Realty over their proposed Landing project have fueled speculation that the LWRP may be circumvented in an effort to meet AVR’s demands. We urge you and the Planning Board to publicly affirm your collective commitment to continued compliance with the LWRP. We also encourage you to continue to build upon your exemplary record of making the process accessible to the public by promptly disclosing any new development related information, including any negotiated modifications to the Landing project. As the process continues forward, it is critical that the City address several unresolved issues surrounding the proposed development. Among these are the ability of the existing wastewater infrastructure to handle the increased workload, the impact on local taxes, specifically with regard to the anticipated increase in enrollment in the public school system, siting of recreational facilities, public access to the waterfront, a determination of the appropriate level of commercial space to ensure a mixed-use development and a re-examining of the potential traffic and environmental impacts in the event of a revised plan.
As public officials, it is our duty to ensure that government works for the benefit of the people. The LWRP was created by a broad coalition of concerned citizens, business interests, property owners, planning experts and community organizations. The end result was a process that, if followed, will fuffihl Kingston’s collective vision for the waterfront. It is up to you and the Planning Board to assure that our collective vision is realized.
Mau~ic~1linchey Member of Congress
Kevin A. Cahill Member of Assembly
Hon. James Sottile, Mayor Suzanne Cahill, City Planner Wayne Platte, Vice Chairman Bruce Mclean Steve Johnson Timothy Williams Pat Pillswoth Pat Garraghan James Reffelt
For Immediate Release October 25, 2006
Hinchey & Cahill Call On Kingston Planning Board To Stick To The Plan Lawmakers Encourage Continued Adherence To Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan Kingston, NY In response to recent media reports about ongoing discussions with AVR Realty over their proposed “Landing” housing project in downtown Kingston, Congressman Maurice Hinchey and Assemblymember Kevin Cahill have sent a joint letter to the City of Kingston Planning Board urging their continued adherence to the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan. The lawmakers praised the board for their handling of the proposed development and encouraged their continued efforts to ensure the process remains transparent through the prompt disclosure to the public of any new development related information, including any negotiated modifications to the Landing project.
“To circumvent the revitalization plan is to ignore all of the steps that are in place to help ensure that development along the waterfront yields all of the economic benefits that we expect,” Hinchey said. “By working with the community instead ofjust with developers, city officials will help revitalize a waterfront that has the potential to put the city on a path to much more prosperous times.” “The purpose of the revitalization plan is to encourage responsible waterfront development,” said Assemblymember Cahill. “It is a roadmap for would-be developers, that if followed, will produce projects that protect the natural beauty, safety and ecological balance of the area, preserving and highlighting the historical heritage and significance and provide for the modem needs of our community.” The City of Kingston Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP), originally adopted in 1992, was created by a broad coalition of concerned citizens, business interests, property owners, planning experts and community organizations. The result was a process providing the City and residents alike with the ability and resources to ensure that proposed developments fit within their vision for the fliture of their waterfront. It also assures greater protection for the ecologically and culturally significant resources that are integral to local and regional economic revitalization. The letter also recommended that the Board address several unresolved issues surrounding the proposed development, including: • • • • • • the ability of the existing wastewater infrastructure to handle the increased workload the impact on local taxes, specifically with regard to the anticipated increase in enrollment in the public school system siting of recreational facilities public access to the waterfront the appropriate level of conmiercial space to ensure a mixed-use development examinination of the potential traffic and environmental impacts in the event of a revised plan
Daily Freeman (dailyfreeman.com), Serving the Hudson Valley since 1871
EDITORIAL: The Partition Street Project
Published: Sunday, November 1, 2009 THERE’S hope, yet. In a land where it sometimes seems everyone wants things to get better, but no one wants anything to change, there is hope in the village of Saugerties, where a substantial retail development project is getting mostly good reviews. The Partition Street Project is being proposed at the site of the former Cantine paper mill, which burned down in the 1970s. The project includes a 500-seat conference center and catering facility in a two-story building and a 30room boutique hotel in a three-story building. There would be parking for 215 vehicles and a restaurant that will be part of the catering facility. Supporters says the $8 million to $10 million plan would be a boon to village life and the local economy. It’s hard to disagree, although we’ve seen enough nay-sayism locally to rule out a sudden, inexplicable groundswell of opposition. Taj Mahal, you say? Doesn’t fit in with local tradition. Eiffel Tower? Out of scale with the surrounding community. World Trade Center? It’ll just drive up rents and overcrowd the schools. Condominium and retail project in a downtown area? We dunno … we kind of like it as a hole in the ground. Closer to our history. But we digress. IT WAS, in fact, a breath of fresh air that some 100 people to attend a recent hearing on the proposal were largely supportive. Public comment was reasoned and constructive. Among the suggestions were a reduction in the number of parking spaces, pushing the building closer to the street, encouraging walking through the village, and creating public access to the Esopus Creek.
We’ll leave it to engineers to battle out the question of how much parking is enough or too much. Suffice it to say that getting the number right is important. Too many spots would create too much open pavement in an environment where sidewalks now predominate to good effect. Too few would create parking overflow problems in a village where new developers should be required to provide for the parking their projects create. Putting the building closer to the street may make sense in the context of this lovely village, where the buildings do hug the streets, creating a pedestrian-friendly streetscape where walking is naturally encouraged and should continue to be. We take it as a given that modern planning for large-scale development should always provide for public access to waterways and shorelines. It is entirely within the purview of municipalities to use the leverage of project approval to obtain the development and guarantee of public access to the water. TRAFFIC concerns should be carefully considered. The project sponsors say that a study of village traffic concluded that peak volume occurs during weekday work hours. That may be, but local motorists don’t need a study to tell them that weekends can be dicey, as well. The issue is not when traffic is heaviest in the village, but how the proposed facility will contribute to existing levels. The village’s narrow streets and tight turns already can slow traffic. The thought of a 500-seat conference center dumping out as one onto village streets should give some pause — but only to think through what steps can be taken to mediate the effect. It’s hard to create an argument that the traffic that would be generated by a facility of this size within a well-developed village ever could be sufficient to justify blocking any project, never mind one with so much promise for the community. OTHER concerns raised are more difficult to take seriously. It is, for instance, highly unlikely that a new economic engine on a long blighted property in the center of an otherwise well-developed village would result in a decline in the value of neighboring properties. As for the scale of the project, well, it is intended to be a conference center, but it’s not like it’s the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center or the Trump Tower. It would be a two- and three-story facility in a village of two- and three-story buildings. And better that it be in the village than contributing to sprawl on some feeder highway. Finally, it is no small matter that a principal and front man of the group proposing this plan is Tom Struzzieri, whose Horse Shows in the Sun has been an asset to Saugerties and the region. That track record should count for some measure of goodwill.
January 12, 2010 Mr. George Lewandowki and Members of the Village of Saugerties Planning Board Village Planning Board 43 Partition Street Saugerties, NY 12477 Dear Mr. Lewandowki and Member of the Village of Saugerties Planning Board: First, I want to thank you for reading and considering my remarks. Second, I want to add specific observations you may not have given sufficient consideration to: • Parking o There are two demands: 1) normal daily requirements which can be met with around 110 spaces on an impermeable paved surface and 2) overflow parking for banquets which require an additional 110 for occasional use. These could be on a permeable stabilized grass or pea stone surface. o All parking could be placed in what is known as a “parking garden” where all the storm water will be retained on site. (More information can be obtained from the Queens Botanical Garden website: queensbotanicalgarden.org). o I urge the applicants to explore additional parking in the three lots to the south belonging to John Mullen, Mr. Hagopian, and the Village of Saugerties. o If parking at the base of Nanny Goat Hill is unavoidable, one level off Dock Street will do the least damage to this unique Ice Age geological feature (see description by Robert Titus, geologist). • Traffic o The Village Planning Board must evaluate the combined impacts of peak traffic demand at key intersections, such as Main and Partition Streets, from the Partition Street Project, the Winston Farm Development, the King’s Highway Development, and lands subject to future development in both the Town and Village. Projections from the Partition Street Project alone forecast a service level F, the worst possible, causing three minute delays (twice what there is now or what is caused at a railroad crossing). Under such conditions traffic would require two to three signal changes to pass through the intersection, a condition that will be harmful to Village businesses. o The tax map indicates a mapped street extension of Ripley Street passing through the site connecting to Dock Street at the north. This should be relocated to the east edge of the site along the top of the bluff for pedestrian traffic only. • Water and Sewer Impacts o The same issues of cumulative impacts must be considered as in the discussion of traffic above. • Cumulative Impacts and Comprehensive Planning o While statements were made at the November meeting of the Village Planning Board to the effect that plans for the Partition Street Project and Hydro Electric Plant were distinct, separate, and not related in any way, this is obviously not the case. The hotel developers have stated that they will draw power from the plant and the construction and the physical appearance of the plant and its traffic patterns will definitely impact the hotel site. The plant will also impact the adjacent Hagopian and Village properties as well as residents of Ripley Street, Partition Street, and Krause’s Chocolates. Have property owners on the west side of Partition Street received legal notices of this proposal?
Site Design and Building Placement o There was a major change from the 2007 Restore New York grant application which showed buildings parallel to the Esopus Creek and Partition Street with parking concealed between the buildings to the current plan which turns the buildings at 45 degrees. The current plan occupies the site less efficiently and exposes the unattractive parking along the north and west sides along the Partition Street entrance to the Village. The current site plan fails to fold structures and parking into the slope of the land. Visuals o Before approving this initial diagrammatic layout, the Village Planning Board needs before and after sections through Nanny Goat Hill and across the main site. The two renderings (referred to as “animations” in the board minutes of November 9, 2009) do not represent what is on the plans. The views are deceptive especially the “Photo Shop” depiction of the buildings to the east that show a single facade for each building when in actuality the view should have two facades per building. What you see is not what you will get. Public Access o The viewing platform is both inadequate in size and in placement. What is needed is a walkway along the bluff. What has been added to the plan is a small postage stamp platform overlooking the hydro-electric plant with virtually no view of the waterfall. The other platform to the north (the “snow dump”) is also inadequate in that it is too far for a good view of the waterfall and blocked by numerous trees. FYI, the snow dump is not actually shown on the applicant’s plans. We do not believe that they own it and assume the Village does. o The concept of a walkway is a public private partnership. The land can remain in the ownership of the applicant to be controlled by the owner and closed when necessary for special events. Or the walkway can be deeded to a land conservancy or to the Village of Saugerties in which case liability issues can be taken care of through inclusion in the Village’s umbrella policy. There are a number of management and landscape tools that can be used to make the public and private work together successfully. The private space can be separated by shrubbery or other landscape materials and/or by a change in level. o The advantages of a public path include that it is an attraction to visitors to Saugerties who will patronize the restaurant and on occasion the hotel and banquet hall. These visitors will also have a spin-off effect on other Saugerties businesses. A further attraction is the people watching enjoyment that a pathway provides to the restaurant or patio patron. The walkway will be a regional draw and serve to attract visitors to the Partition Street Project and to Saugerties, thus having a positive economic impact. Cantine Paper Mill Park Plan of 2000 o It is important to clarify that the Cantine Paper Mill Park Steering Committee made up of appointees of Mayor Bob Yerick made a report in 2000 that was supported by both the Mayor and Congressman Maurice Hinchey that proposed a park and public access along the bluff. Recently Mayor Yerick was quoted in the “Saugerties Times” as saying that "I have a document in my office with the committee's recommendations for developing this property," said Yerick. "That
plan is almost identical to what is being done now." The two plans are more truthfully like “night and day,” in no way similar and certainly not identical. The 2000 Cantine Paper Mill Park Plan more accurately reflects the plans envisioned by the Town and Village of Saugerties Comprehensive Plan, the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan, the Greenway, the NYS Open Space Planning Guide, and all other planning recommendations for our area. Structural and Safety Considerations o Who will review the complex structural plans of these buildings resting diagonally across 19th century foundation walls and rubble? o Will piles and grade beams support the buildings? o How will fire equipment reach the shore side of the buildings? o Is the Village Planning Board exercising oversight in the proper handling of contaminated soils on this site? Technical Assistance o It has become apparent that the Village Planning Board needs expert assistance in order to adequately review the Partition Street Project. What you need is professional planning, architectural, and landscape architectural advice. This expertise needs to report to you and serve the public interest. Engineering and law should not control the process. o
All of these questions need to be answered before you vote on these plans. Third, I am attaching my statement of November 30, 2009 as amended to make sure you have the information in front of you which speaks to the Zoning Law, the Local Waterfront Revitalization Program, and the NYS DEC Local Open Space Planning Guide. Sincerely, Barry Benepe Saugerties Citizens for Smart Development
Barry Benepe’s Citations (with underlining for emphasis) -- November 30, 2009 as revised January 12, 2010 • Zoning Law
o Neither Catering or a Banquet Hall is a permitted use under Zoning Law
Subdivision Law requires up to 10% set aside, reservation/easements for parks and open space (§168-24) Subdivision Law requires “Preservation of existing natural and cultural features which are of ecological, aesthetic, scenic or historic value … such as … rock formations … and similar irreplaceable assets” (§168-19D) Preliminary Plat Subdivision §168-27C requires: “(3) topographic contours 10, 5 or 2 feet as determined by planning board” “(4) location of … pertinent natural features, … federal wetlands … rock outcroppings … single large trees within 50’ of lot” “(8) a profile of all proposed streets” “(3) names of all adjoining property owners of record, including landowners on the opposite side of any street abutting the subdivision site, and the names of adjacent development” (Leading Edge/John Mullen)
Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan o 1985 Waterfront Revitalization Program (4) “Most of the Village’s residents are deprived of one of its most important assets.” While establishment of Tina Chorvas Park and the Village Beach have gone a long way toward addressing this need, establishing this bluff trail and its later extensions to the Lighthouse and Esopus Bend would complete the vision.
NYS DEC Local Open Space Planning Guide 2005 o p.9 “ It is important to integrate open space with the overall grounds and development pattern of the community” p.34 “Views of and from waterways, especially rivers, … need to be protected. Scenic and aesthetic values have been well recognized by the courts. Identifying them helps to ensure their protection and preservation.” A scenic community entranceway may symbolize the character of a community and attract people to spend time there. Aesthetic resources such as a mountain or waterfall might attract people who want to have access to it or live nearby. These fragile resources need to be protected so that as
increasing numbers of people settle near them, they will continue to be undamaged and enjoyed.” o p.36 “Recreation ways” serve active and/or passive recreational purposes, while linking recreational cultural and natural focal points.” The two terminal points of the proposed shoreline trail are Esopus Bend to the south and the lighthouse to the north. p.42 Tools: “Site plan approval can be used to protect scenic vistas.”
COUNTY PLANNING BOARD January 6, 2010 I wish to call upon you to require modifications in the Partition Street Project. I commend the Ulster County Planning Board for your sensitivity to smart planning goals and your commitment to public access along waterfronts and appropriately designed infill development that protects environmental resources and strengthens business. We share the same goals. We also want to make it perfectly clear that we do not oppose the Partition Street Project, but rather support it. What we would like to see are changes in the site plan to make it a better development as mandated by the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan (LWRP), the Scenic Area of Statewide Significance (SASS) and New York State Coastal Waterfront management practices. In order to properly address all the environmental impacts that this complex project presents, we urge you to call upon the Village Planning Board to find for a Positive Declaration, as it is clear that many aspects of this project should trigger a Type I Review. It is only through this process that the applicant will present the alternatives necessary to address the negative impacts. An improved project will follow in the footsteps of the Walkway Over the Hudson and attract visitors to Saugerties. An improved project will be a benefit for the project’s investors, Saugerties residents and visitors, and Ulster County. We urge you to review the project with an orientation to strengthen the Village fabric and Village business. If the project is approved as is, it is more appropriate to a suburban setting and turns its back on the Village and its businesses. This is a unique property, significant culturally, historically and environmentally. It is also part of the gateway from the south with an historic view of the Cantine Mill dam and waterfall. It is a scenic treasure and is located in between two historic districts. If the plan is approved as is, it will privatize the waterfront and preclude public access to the Esopus Creek and its exceptional waterfall. If there is one thing we have learned in recent years, it is that waterfront walkways are a magnet for tourism and a boon to business. Privatization is hard to impossible to undo and a big mistake. We know that you understand and support working out public access on private property, as has been accomplished in Kingston, Newburg, Piermont, Yonkers, and other communities. Parking is the driver of this project. The applicant includes 215 parking spaces – too many spaces and spaces that are badly located. There are a number of alternatives including a recount based on the daily usage, rather than the special event usage; parking shielded into the site’s grade change; parking buried into the former factory’s basement; shared parking; valet parking; and parking on nearby property. Once the parking problem is solved, this will open up space for a walkway, more landscaping, and a reconfiguration of the buildings to fit into the historic Village. I refer you to the Scenic Hudson statement on this project and the statements of many local residents. We call upon you to urge the Village Planning Board to address the environmental impacts through alternatives that will provide for public access, protect Nanny Goat Hill, reduce surface parking, and provide an attractive landscaped entrance with buildings that fit into the historic context of the Village of Saugerties. Judith Spektor, Saugerties Citizens for Smart Development
TO THE ULSTER COUNTY PLANNING BOARD 1/6/10 The Saugerties Citizens for Smart Development is a recently formed group that includes citizens who have worked for years for the public use of our village's most important undeveloped parcel. We urge the Ulster County Planning Board to review the Partition Street Project and call upon the Saugerties Village Planning Board to declare a Type I action under SEQRA requiring a full environmental impact statement. It is highly unusual that a development of this size and complexity is not required to get the “hard look” that a Positive Declaration mandates. We understand that the Ulster County Planning Board is involved in an attempt to reform the abuses of the SEQRA process and to create a less onerous path for development that's easier for applicants and at the same time informs and involves the community. While we would love to rely on this approach, we know that it is important to follow the SEQRA process as it stands and push for a Positive Declaration. We want to assure you that we are not in it to hold up, stall, or kill this development. In fact we support the Partition Street Project. We find that negative impacts remain that have not been addressed. At the same time if we could achieve our goals outside of the SEQRA, we would be happy to. We have tried unsuccessfully for months to meet with the principals of this project. We are ready to meet at any time and have solid ideas to put forward which will provide solutions. We are a cross section of the community with professional skills including planning, architecture, horticulture, and business. We are reasonable people with reasonable goals and we look to you to help us achieve them. The community has been given one shot to make its views heard at a public hearing, while the applicant appears to control the proceedings at our Planning Board's meetings. We need the adverse impacts on the community character, scenic views, historic resources, and traffic to be addressed in an open, substantive way. A mini-SEQRA review has been assembled by the applicant. There has been no reply to our comments. And most importantly, alternatives have not been brought forward to address the impacts as SEQRA requires. By all appearances, the Village Planning Board is in over its head. This project is literally 10 times larger than any they have reviewed and they should have professional planning and architectural advice. Instead their advisors, an attorney and an engineer, have signed on to the applicant’s plan. The board members appear to have been directed that if they make requirements of the applicant, the applicant will walk away. Rather than standing for the importance of a full environmental review that will produce a better project, the Village Planning Board appears to wish to settle for any
development in fear of getting none. It is our strongly held opinion that the applicant is not going away and that appropriate requirements to mitigate negative impacts identified through SEQRA is not only the right thing, but required by law. The Partition Street Project’s site plan leaves much to be desired. What you will see when you enter the village from the south is a large parking lot and a secondary two-tier parking lot carved out of Nanny Goat Hill, an Ice Age rock formation that is unique in Ulster County. Imagine your first view turning up Partition Street being a 25 foot high blasted rock wall behind a two-tier parking lot! This kind of design may be appropriate for a strip mall but not contiguous to a village known for its Certified Local Government Historic Business District, and its Waterfront Revitalization Plan - both firsts in New York State. This site has extraordinary scenic value overlooking the Cantine Mill Dam and waterfall. The view belongs to everyone and with proper planning can be a regional destination much like the Saugerties Lighthouse and the new and much lauded Walkway Over the Hudson. The proposed wall of buildings is designed to hide and privatize this view and would severely shortchange residents and visitors to Ulster County. A more generous and thoughtful plan would reward the owners and the public with a spectacular publicly accessible view, a tourist attraction which could draw visitors to the project from Ulster County and beyond, a true regional benefit. We suggest that you visit the site and see for yourself the power and the beauty of this scenic view. The buildings bear no relationship to the pedestrian scale of the Village, but instead are staged behind a parking lot. The photo simulations that the applicant put forward are misleading at best. Not one parked car is shown, though they clearly would be visible. The most important view, from the south on Partition Street, is not even simulated. What you are actually going to see when you walk or drive on Partition Street is an overbearing, unsightly-- whether filled with cars or empty-- and overly large parking lot. As to the architecture itself, some have called it a Ramada Inn. A franchise hotel is not appropriate for an historic Village. The 9W strip that mercifully ends before the first turn into the village is proposed to come right into our historic district, setting the tone for all further development at our south gateway. There are already traffic problems in the Village of Saugerties. As you may know Routes 9W, 32 and 212 all go through the middle of the Village on our small historic streets carrying much commercial and heavy truck traffic in addition to residential and visitors’ cars. The addition of this project is greatly downplayed by the consultant hired by the applicant who says that all the problems will be taken care of with the replacement of the signal at Main and Partition Streets. What is buried in his report is that for peak event travel times drivers will be waiting for two to three signal changes. Perhaps
that is acceptable for the one time visitor, but it is certainly not for the area resident who will be stewing in his car. We are proponents of a walkway along the bluff, true public access to the waterfront. You should know that Mayor Bob Yerick initiated the Cantine Paper Mill Park Steering Committee in 2000 to formulate a plan for the site. The proposal included a park and a walkway along the bluff. That same plan was supported by Congressman Maurice Hinchey at the time. Please see our handout showing a photo of the Congressman next to a drawing of that plan. We seek the Congressman’s help in his new role as an investor in this project in bringing his original vision to fruition. We also seek your assistance in making sure that Saugerties and Ulster County get an improved plan for the site. Dave Minch Saugerties Citizens for Smart Development
COMMENTS ABOUT THE PHOTO SIMULATIONS We would like to make several comments about the two new photo simulations that the developer has submitted. One is from the north looking down Partition Street, the other from the south from or near the bridge. Both of these locations are chosen cleverly to minimize what the true visibility of the cars will be. No other locations around the site have such a small exposure to the parking. These drawings do not show even one parked car of the 215 proposed. If we are to understand the project, the developer should be required to create a drawing from the bottom of Partition Street as one enters our Village's business district, and a drawing of Nanny Goat Hill. The drawing from the south is inaccurate and should be completed to include the cars one would see to the right (east) of the hotel structure. There are trees drawn here instead of cars and a large part of the Nanny Goat Hill parking lot is cut out of the picture. Dave Minch CSD
"SNOW DUMP" NOT VIABLE AS PUBLIC ACCESS The "snow dump" has been proposed by the developer to be a place for public access viewing of the waterfall. This idea is problematic and dangerous as discussed at the recent Ulster County Planning Board meeting. This property does not belong to the developer, therefore costs of developing the idea would fall on the Village taxpayers. The road is narrow and has daily truck traffic related to the Village wastewater treatment plant. There are no sidewalks accessing this proposed pedestrian overlook, therefore attracting pedestrians to this location would create liabilities. This proposal is an attempt by the developer to convince the Village Planning Board that there is already in place "public access", and that our requests need not be attended to. Dave Minch CSD
Robert Titus, PhD Department of Geology Hartwick College Oneonta NY 13820
Dear Congressman Hinchey I have learned that there are plans afoot to develop the Nanny Goat Hill site in Saugerties and that you are among the named developers. I think that there are things that you should know about Nanny Goat Hill and I would like to write you about them.
By way of introduction, I am a professor of geology at Hartwick College and a writer of geology columns for Kaatskill Life Magazine, and five regional newspapers, including the Woodstock Times and the Hudson Catskill newspaper chain. In short I communicate a great deal with our local community.
I understand that it may be that Nanny Goat Hill will be blasted away in order to make room for a parking garage. I hope this will not happen.
Nanny goat hill is a remarkable ice age feature called by the name of “ramp and pluck.” It was formed during the Ice Age when a sizable glacier advanced from the east. The glacier scoured its way up the east side of the Nanny Goat Hill and created the gentle slope that is seen there. As the ice overrode the hill, it adhered to the bedrock there, yanked or plucked much of it loose, and created the steep cliff face seen on that side.
Please see the attached photo of Nanny Goat Hill that shows the ramp side on the right and the plucked side on the left.
This really is a remarkable ice age feature and I know of no others like it in our vicinity. I feel that it should be protected and appreciated.
Like so many others, I watched and enjoyed Ken Burns’ series on the national parks. We all learned much from it, but the single most important message was about learning to save, not destroy the natural wonders all around us.
At the very least I hope you will show this message to your architects and see what they can do.
Thank you for listening.
Robert Titus, PhD Department of Geology Hartwick College Oneonta NY 13820
Planned Waterfront Districts in the Zoning Law Please note that 210-21 C 1 requires minimum 4 acre lots in the PW zone. The proposed lot line adjustment at the falls makes a pre-existing non conforming lot smaller yet. Legal recourse to this problem has yet to be handled. Also note that these provisions in or zoning law are largely ignored in the proposed plan: 210-21 D 1 The relationship of the development plan and proposed uses to the policies and objectives set forth in the Village of Saugerties Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan. 210-21 D 3 The quality and extent of views from the adjacent public streets through the development to the water. 210-21 D 5 The design, location and function of easements or other access providing public access to the water's edge.
When reviewing the legal basis for our comments concerning public access, the board should consider the above remarks and these other remarks that we have submitted: comments on the "Snow Dump" access; comments on the proposed gated, nonconnected viewing platform; comments from the comprehensive plan. Dave Minch CSD
Statement of Jeffrey Anzevino, AICP Assistant Director of Land Use Advocacy Scenic Hudson, Inc. Partition Street Project Planning Board Village of Saugerties, NY October 26, 2009
Good evening. My name is Jeffrey Anzevino, Assistant Director of Land Use Advocacy for Scenic Hudson, Inc. First, congratulations on being named by Budget Travel magazine as one of America’s Top 10 Coolest Places. You deserve it. I know. I’ve been to the Saugerties Lighthouse, paddled a kayak along the Esopus Bend Preserve, cycled with friends on the bike routes, and had fun at the Garlic Festival. I’ve also eaten in several local restaurants and cafes. I bring this up at a public hearing on the Partition Street Project because people are increasingly aware of the importance of connections--connections between local businesses, parks, natural resources, and recreation. And the importance can be considered in economic terms. I hope you’ll keep that in mind as I deliver our comments. You may know Scenic Hudson as a 46-year-old nonprofit environmental organization and separately incorporated land trust dedicated to protecting and enhancing the scenic, natural, historic, agricultural and recreational treasures of the Hudson River and its valley. However, while we’ve created 40 parks and preserves and conserved about 26,000 acres in the Hudson Valley, we know full well that if we and our partners are to be successful in “Saving the Land That Matters Most,” it is critical that development be directed into cities and villages. The old Cantine mill site, the subject of the application before you tonight, is a vacant, former industrial “infill” site and truly ripe for development. We believe that development here, if done right, offers tremendous opportunity for the Village. So right off the bat I’d like to make clear that we believe that this is the right place for development and hope the applicant, Village, and local residents will work together to make the changes necessary to allow this project to move forward. We are not here as “naysayers” or to stifle the project. We’re here to provide some constructive comments as to how development here can better fit the context of the village. To be sure, the renderings of the buildings look beautiful and the traditional building materials, design, and massing reflects Saugerties’ industrial heritage. And the concept of the proposed uses—hotel, restaurant, and catering—is fundamentally sound and will probably contribute to the village’s tourism economy and add synergy to existing local businesses. However, we’d like to bring to your attention several aspects of the site plan—the arrangement of buildings, driveways, and parking and their relationship to the street and the creek—that misses important
opportunities for the village, the applicant, and the community. While everyone agrees the proposal is better than the weed strewn lot that’s there now, reorienting the buildings close to the street, including compelling public space, and reducing parking requirements would result in a world class development fitting this spectacular site. In spite of the building’s architecture, the site plan, with buildings set back far from Partition Street, does not respect historic traditions or reinforce the Village’s land use pattern, as advised in Goals 4 and 5 of the Comprehensive Plan. Likewise, this design does not support the walkable Village atmosphere found farther up the hill on Partition Street and on Market Street. The project appears to be designed to facilitate the circulation of cars and provide convenient parking. However, the buildings are isolated behind the parking lots and this requires project patrons to walk around or through parking in order to visit Village shops up Partition Street. With buildings set close to the blufftop overlooking the falls, the plan also precludes the opportunity to run a public esplanade along the bluffs with connections to places like the Village beach, Esopus Bend Preserve, the lighthouse, and central business district. Places up and down the Hudson, places like Yonkers, Kingston, Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, Sleepy Hollow, and Catskill, are working on river or creekside trails that connect parks and open spaces with neighborhoods and businesses. In many instances these trails run between restaurants, retail shops, and waterfront. And, it’s widely acknowledged that trail easements granted on private property connect to larger on- and off-road trail systems that bring those property owners benefits. Connections between businesses, neighborhood, historic sites and parks boost business and benefit the environment and peoples’ health and well being, as the trails encourage walking. Who would deny that a patron of the hotel or restaurant would not like to walk to one of Saugerties’ many attractions along a well-marked trail? Most of the 215 parking spaces proposed for the site would sit vacant except for the few times major events are held at the conference center. This excess parking requires additional stormwater runoff be addressed and precludes much of the site from being used for other purposes—such as outdoor restaurant seating, gardens, or open space. Since much of the site is in the Planned Waterfront (PW) zoning district the Planning Board has the authority to waive parking requirements and we urge you to do so. We suggest that much of the parking can be accommodated on the street or in times of busiest use or with offsite and parking shuttles. This solution could be used instead of the second tier of parking at Nanny Goat Hill. Montgomery Row in Rhinebeck and Water Street Market are examples of infill village development that hides parking rather than sites it along the street. We urge the designers of this site to take a fresh look and find a creative solution that would result in a plan that reflects Saugerties’ village character rather than a highway strip mall, albeit with attractive architecture. More information should be provided about how the public might use the tent area near Krause’s at the south end of the site. This is a natural place for a trail connection down Ripley Street to the truss bridge over Esopus Creek.
Computer-generated visual simulations should be provided that show how the project would look from key viewpoints, such as down Partition Street, of Nanny Goat Hill and wherever else the planning Board deems necessary. It is, in many respects, unfortunate that the plan has progressed to this point without a thorough public vetting and examination of various alternatives, including their impacts and benefits. This is a primary purpose of New York’s State Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQRA. In fact, Goal 5-ii of Saugerties Comprehensive plan calls for taking “full advantage of SEQRA for project revisions.” As a commercial site substantially contiguous to the Village’s National Register Historic District, the proposal is a Type 1 Action. This presumes that an environmental impact statement (EIS) should be prepared. Therefore we recommend a Positive Declaration for this project and an EIS that examines alternatives that provide a site plan that respects historic traditions, reinforces historic land use patterns, and affords better connections, including through the site along the blufftop and between this site and other Village assets. Again, we provide these recommendations in the spirit of cooperation and the hopes that the stakeholders can find common ground that will advance this project in a manner that will be a benefit to the village for decades to come. Scenic Hudson stands ready to assist the Village, applicant and stakeholders in finding common ground that would advance this project and turn a vacant parcel into the pride of the community. Thank you.