Guillaro Pulls Plug on Butterfield Rezoning

Asserts in letter he will build residential homes

By Kevin E. Foley

For the second time in a year, developer Paul Guillaro has withdrawn plans for the Butterfield Hospital property on Route 9D. In a brief letter to the Cold Spring Village Board of Trustees dated Feb. 4, Guillaro asked the board to suspend all consideration of the proposed B4A zoning amendment. That idea ran into a buzz- saw of opposition at a public hearing on Tuesday, Jan. 29.

The redevelopment plan, which depends on demolition of the old Butterfield Hospital; photo by L.S. Armstrong

The redevelopment plan, which depends on demolition of the old Butterfield Hospital; photo by L.S. Armstrong

In his letter, Guillaro also said he had asked his consultants to draw up plans for a “single family as-of-right R1 application to the Planning Board.” R1 is allowed under the current B4 zoning.

Guillaro’s new tact would also eliminate the possibility of a new home for the post office, a new senior citizen center and other governmental services long spoken about by county, town and village officials. The withdrawal of his request for re-zoning will cast those issues into a harsher spotlight. But just who is now supposed to do something about jump-starting reconsideration remains to be seen.

Opposition to the new zoning proposal, which would have permitted multiple uses including all levels of government functions, focused on the absence of any certainty or specificity about those services. In fact, as several speakers at the hearing noted, Guillaro had taken off the label “municipal” from one of the proposed buildings on his concept drawings, suggesting to many he wasn’t sure about the services either.

Cold Spring Mayor Seth Gallagher has said several times of late that the municipal services were not guaranteed but that approving the new zoning and getting the buildings built was the only chance the village had of obtaining them.

Although concerns about the actual development’s details remain, many people accept in principle that the site could and should be developed with a multi-use concept that in this case would also involve 55 senior citizen condominiums. But there is also a strong view — among some in the village, anyway — that the promised municipal services should be part of the early planning and not wait until after the buildings are built. Fears include an overabundance of retail space that could lead to the presence of several formula businesses.

Asked for a reaction, Trustee Matt Francisco in an email wrote: “I am disheartened by the news that Mr. Guillaro wants to investigate other options for use. I sincerely hope that he understood what I believe the residents were trying to communicate at the public hearing. That it was not so much comment against the site plan as much as the mechanism to best achieve those uses for his project while protecting the village’s interests. Of great concern I believe, was the change of the Municipal Building being labeled on the concept plan as ‘Office/Retail/Commercial.’ This would allow for the entire 17,000 square feet of the building to be used for additional commercial/retail space that was never anticipated or discussed. That in combination with the lack of any protections from formula businesses was clearly more risk than the residents want us to take on their behalf.”

After the Tuesday meeting, Trustee Ralph Falloon, currently the only candidate for mayor, said, “We need to seriously regroup [on Butterfield]. I don’t want to see the proposal go away. We have to close some of the open-ended issues and move forward.”

2 thoughts on “Guillaro Pulls Plug on Butterfield Rezoning

  1. Well, they’ve done it again- the small vocal elitist minority, more concerned about some vague concept of “character” rather than the greater good of the community. Instead of allowing a known developer with an excellent track record, to invest his own money in Cold Spring, these elites are now going to cost the taxpayers a lot of money providing services for the new residents who will occupy the “as of right” housing.

    It’s hard to believe that the actions of this small bunch of misguided residents are going to be allowed to have such a devastating effect on their neighbors, including senior citizens who’ve lived here and paid taxes all of their lives, who can’t even get a place for their meetings. Not to mention the loss of the P.O and other municipal offices that are sorely needed by the Village. Guillaro is the only developer that I know of who’s willing to invest millions of his own money into Cold Spring. If he is forced out, there’s nobody else to take his place who would do a project of this magnitude.

    If these elites are so concerned about “character” maybe they should start a dialogue with the various boards about what’s happening on Main Street which is starting to look a little seedy. There’s a very fine line between shabby chic and run down; sadly, that seems to be the general direction. It also appears that there’s a double standard when it comes to zoning and planning rules — what’s with the offices being allowed to take over prime street level spaces that are supposed to be for retail use? I’ve lived in Western Putnam for over 50 years and still can’t figure out just what these people want for the community.

  2. Been to most of the meetings and this is really getting tired. There is a group that dictates what is going to happen there at Butterfield. I can’t blame Paul G. for bowing out. This project was a tax positive for the area and now if he builds the single family homes it will be negative. What’s wrong with you people….you shot yourself in the foot. Stop all this antagonistic stuff and get this project moving in the right direction…pass the code change and let Paul do his thing. If he builds these single family homes.. the open field is gone as is the Post Office.