Guillaro to Present New Plans to Board

Butterfield project on agenda for July 31

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

Paul Guillaro

Paul Guillaro

Developer Paul Guillaro intends to return to the Cold Spring Village Board July 31 to present a new concept for the former Butterfield Hospital property, Mayor Seth Gallagher announced on Tuesday (July 24) at a Village Board workshop.

The board agreed to put Guillaro’s presentation at the top of its next agenda. “It’s a hot-ticket, hot-topic item,” Trustee Charles Hustis observed.

At Tuesday’s workshop the mayor suggested establishment of a multi-board subcommittee to thrash out ideas with Guillaro. Also, he and one of the two trustees present expressed doubts about a Planning Board recommendation that the Butterfield site continue to be primarily dedicated to medical uses.

Originally, Guillaro, of Butterfield Realty LLC, the property’s owner, sought to create a Planned Unit Development or PUD with apartments for modest-income senior citizens alongside market-rate condominiums for more affluent retiree-aged residents, an intergovernmental municipal office building, and retail-commercial quarters, with room for the post office. A PUD would have required changing the village zoning laws.

After lengthy sessions wrangling with the Planning Board over his designs for the site, Guillaro abruptly withdrew his rezoning application in early May, citing frustrations. Nonetheless, neither long-gone nor forgotten, the project remained a subject of community speculation and controversy.

Along with medical uses, the current B4 zoning law governing Butterfield provides for single-family residences and village-government offices and, by special permit, senior-citizen housing. This summer the Village Board began drafting a zoning change, not for a PUD but to expand B4 options to include not merely village offices but those of all levels of government, including the U.S. Postal Service, as well as mixed-use buildings.

“We need the first part of the zoning change to get the post office over there?” Trustee Matt Francisco asked Tuesday night.

“Yes,” the mayor answered. The post office’s existing lease on its quarters in the Foodtown Plaza expires Aug. 31.

New panel proposed

To expedite the process, Gallagher on July 24 proposed that the village government establish a new panel consisting of himself and a trustee from the Village Board along with the chairmen of the Planning Board and Historic District Review Board and one other member each from the Planning Board and HDRB. “I don’t know who [first] brought this up — it might have been Steve”

Butterfield Hospital

The Butterfield site.

Gaba, the village attorney — but the subcommittee would “go through the plan with the developer and give some initial input and responses to what is proposed, because there’s going to be some back and forth still, some positive things and some things that might need to be changed,” Gallagher said. He suggested that the whole Village Board discuss the multi-board panel July 31. (Trustees Bruce Campbell and Ralph Falloon were absent July 24.)

Hustis said the subcommittee’s work “would have to be parallel” to the rewriting of the zoning law.

“We need to agree to the concept” for the property, Gallagher replied. “Once you agree to the ​concept in concept,” the other details, including the zoning text, can be hammered out more efficiently, he said. “The change to the code is going to be based on a plan we can get behind.”

Responding to a question on Wednesday (July 25), Gallagher said the six-member panel would “definitely” not operate behind closed doors. “The meetings are going to be open to the public,” he said. He said the proposed group would not include members of the Special Board for a Comprehensive Plan-Local Waterfront Revitalization Plan or Zoning Board of Appeals because the Special Board already has provided extensive input to the Village Board on Butterfield and because the zoning issue involves new zoning law, not a variance from existing law, and the ZBA focuses only on the latter.

A set percentage of land for medical uses?

In a recent letter to the Village Board responding to the draft B4 changes, the Planning Board urged that the primary use of the site remain medical lest other uses overwhelm the medical component. At the Tuesday workshop, Trustee Matt Francisco mentioned the Planning Board’s goal and related suggestion that to achieve it, a fixed proportion — by implication, at least 51 percent — of the overall complex be reserved for medical uses. “The most troubling thing for me is this percentage,” Francisco said. “I don’t even know if that’s legal.”

“That’s a suggestion from the Planning Board,” Gallagher said. “We’re talking about rezoning [the site]. Then it wouldn’t be restricted to just medical.” He emphasized that “we want to maintain” and even expand the services now offered at the Lahey Pavilion medical offices but also “allow something besides” health-related facilities. Despite the Planning Board’s recommendation, the ultimate decision “is a decision of this board, I would say. You can make your decision at any point on that.”

If the village starts imposing percentage-of-use requirements, Guillaro might simply fill the property with senior-citizen housing, which, through a special-use permit “is allowed under the current zoning,” the mayor noted. Planning Board members and others have warned that housing for modest-income senior citizens may not prove “tax positive.” Tax-positive development returns more in taxes than it costs in local government services and infrastructure.

A call for shrink services – not necessarily in the laundry    

Whatever else happens, Hustis endorsed broadening the range of Butterfield medical possibilities. For example, he said, “we need a psychiatrist in there.” Moreover, he added, “we need a public laundromat in this village. We’ve got needs.”

“I second that,” Gallagher said.

“For the psychiatrist or the laundromat?” Hustis wondered.

“Both!” Multiple voices rang out.

2 thoughts on “Guillaro to Present New Plans to Board

  1. If you put lipstick and a tutu on a pig, it’s still a pig. For a real simple remedy let’s follow the existing zoning — that should be simple enough. Why should we change our zoning and create special boards, spend tons of taxpayer dollars to accomodate someone who bought a piece of property that had deeded covenants and restrictions on it? The developer wants to change it all to stuff a multitude of things in there to satisy all and maxamize his profits.

    I feel it’s totally unfair to residents of the surrounding neigborhood to change the make up of the area. What’s wrong with just saying no, it can’t be done. Are we willing to sacrifice the character of the area for a post office? The post office can rent one of the many vacant spaces elsewhere in the village. It makes me wonder why and who keeps pushing and trying to convince the public that this is good for us. Just follow the players and see who’s trying to make it happen. Then think about for a moment and ask yourself why. Then I think the answers will become painfully clear.

  2. The Planning Board was right to warn that affordable housing for seniors is unlikely to be tax positive. Under Section 581-a of the New York Real Property Tax Law, assessments of certain affordable housing projects SHALL be made based on annual project income.

    According to a story from the Saugerties Post Star News (March 30, 2012), the impact of Section 581-a with respect to an affordable housing project in Cheektowaga was to reduce the project’s final assessment from $220,000, as claimed by the town, to $6,518, as claimed by the project.* The Cheektowaga situation was cited in the Post-Star story as an example of the potential damage to Saugerties taxpayers from a proposed 581-a project.

    581-a projects are those as to which the developer has agreed to set aside at least twenty per cent of the rental units for low income tenants. A twenty percent set-aside could also qualify the project for other benefits including tax exempt financing and the low income housing tax credit. Based on the fact Guillaro has said previously that the project would not “work” without the affordable housing component, it seems likely that he plans to take advantage of all available tax concessions related to the affordable housing component.

    To obtain tax exempt financing or low income housing tax credits, the developer would have to enter set-aside agreements with the state and federal agencies providing the financing or issuing the credits. These agreements would qualify the project for the 581-a assessment without any input from the Town, the School District or the County.

    P.S. On the question raised in Tony Bardes’ comment: who keeps pushing? Another component of the project is new town and village offices. Maybe that is all the community really gets from this project since the affordable housing component is required to remain affordable for only a limited amount of time. Maybe fifteen years, maybe twenty.

    *E.P.O. Stovroff Apartments v. Town of Cheektowaga