Cold Spring Ponders Butterfield Timeline

New approval process could take 10 months or more

By Jeanne Tao

Outgoing Mayor Seth Gallagher, left, and mayoral candidate Trustee Ralph Falloon react to Chuck Hustis' comment that working with the mayor has been 'entertaining.' Photo by J. Tao

Outgoing Mayor Seth Gallagher, left, and mayoral candidate Trustee Ralph Falloon react to Chuck Hustis’ comment that working with the mayor has been ‘entertaining.’ Photo by J. Tao

The Butterfield saga continued at the Cold Spring Village Board meeting on Tuesday, March 12 — Mayor Seth Gallagher’s last regular meeting of the Board of Trustees — when Village Attorney Stephen Gaba presented his draft timeline of the approval process for the development of the Butterfield Hospital property, which both developer Paul Guillaro and the Board of Trustees requested at the last Village Board workshop on Feb. 26.

Gaba informed the board that he estimates the approval process for the project, in the form it has been discussed for the past few months, to be about 10 months, if no significant issues come up. This includes two parts: first, the adoption of the local law (changing the zoning to allow uses such as intergovernmental offices and a retail square) and the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) of that law, which Gaba said could take five to eight months; and second, the site-plan review by the Planning Board and Historic District Review Board (HDRB) and the SEQR of that plan, which could take another five to nine months.

SEQR segmentation

Gaba pointed out that doing one SEQR instead of segmenting it into two separate reviews could save about two months’ time in the process, but he said doing the single review at the beginning would require the applicant to spend “considerable time and expense in preparing studies, markups, plans that need to be reviewed to complete the SEQR before they even know if the local law that would permit the project to go forward is enacted.”

As Gaba and Trustee Matt Francisco noted in the meeting, putting a lot of money and work into a specific site plan at the outset, with no guarantee that either the zoning change or plan would even be approved, would probably not appeal to Guillaro, which is why the timeline shows two environmental reviews instead of one at the start. “It gives the applicant more certainty in terms of going forward with the SEQR review, but it’s kind of the long way around,” said Gaba.

Francisco was concerned about the legality of segmenting the SEQR. “Segmentation is not favored by either the courts or SEQR regulations,” said Gaba, but he stated there are legal grounds for segmentation in this case, “because we can’t really focus on the site-specific details, because the plan’s not in place; the reason the plan’s not in place is because there isn’t a law allowing the plan to be in place.”

To PUD or not to PUD?

Francisco asked whether it would take less time to approve a planned-unit development (PUD), which was Guillaro’s initial proposal for the property in the spring of 2012 before he withdrew it, citing frustrations over the process with the Planning Board. Gaba explained that with a PUD, the local law is drafted at the same time that the Planning Board reviews the project.

Gallagher responded that a PUD proposal would not take much less time and would be similar to the path of the single SEQR, requiring that the applicant present a lot of the planning at the beginning of the process.

Another option

Asked by Francisco about other options to speed the process, Gaba said a single SEQR could be done at the beginning, if the applicant were willing, and the Village Board could issue a generic Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). An EIS is required when the SEQR finds that the plan has potentially significant adverse environmental impacts.

Gaba noted that with a generic EIS, the board could establish thresholds for mitigating the environmental impacts, and further review would not be required unless the site plan was found to exceed those thresholds, in which case they would issue a supplemental EIS for that specific improvement. “That would cut your time down considerably, in terms of review,” said Gaba.

Cutting down on time

Francisco stated he was concerned because Guillaro had said he did not want to spend any more money “without some sense that there’s a way forward.” Gallagher disagreed, saying, “I think you’re taking an overly negative view that’s almost creating that situation.”

“He’s been frustrated with the lack of support from the board, you included,” Gallagher said to Francisco. “If you wanted to help him out,” he continued, “it would probably be the equivalent of cutting three months off of this timeline.”

Gaba cautioned the board, however, not to make promises to shorten the time necessary for approval. “If [Guillaro] comes back and he says, ‘Well, it says here that within the first 30 days you’re going to revise the local law and the concept plan and accept Part 1 of the EAF … I think that should say seven days.’ You can’t commit to do something within a particular amount of time, to cut it down that way,” Gaba said. He had stated earlier in the meeting that there are “some things that you’re just required to go through if you’re going to approve a project of this magnitude.”

Gaba said he would discuss the timeline with Guillaro’s attorney to see what they think, adding, “And if you’re right, Matt, you’re right.”

Village improvements

Cold Spring Area Chamber of Commerce Chair Vinny Tamagna, standing right, speaks about the importance of the Main Street corridor improvements for Cold Spring's businesses, as CHA representative Joe Cimino, standing left, listens. Photo by J. Tao

Cold Spring Area Chamber of Commerce Chair Vinny Tamagna, standing right, speaks about the importance of the Main Street corridor improvements for Cold Spring’s businesses, as CHA representative Joe Cimino, standing left, listens. Photo by J. Tao

Earlier in the meeting, the Special Board presented a revised report on banning formula businesses and drive-thrus in the village, which will be posted on the village website, coldspringny.gov.

A bid for an emergency generator at the West Street pump station was awarded, after that station was flooded by Hurricane Sandy in late October. Water and Wastewater Superintendent Greg Phillips also requested that the board consider moving that station to village property on New Street, which is estimated to cost $110,000, instead of spending around $70,000 to raise all the equipment and elevate the station. He added that the water-main relining project is planned to resume when Mainlining Services Inc. returns around the end of March.

Main Street corridor improvements were also discussed at the meeting, with a presentation of a draft design report by Joe Cimino and Romulus Danciu of the engineering consulting firm CHA. The project, which would upgrade sidewalks and curbs and address handicapped accessibility as well as improve drainage and lighting, began with discussions in the summer of 2011 and is a federal transportation project with a construction cap of $755,000.


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4 thoughts on “Cold Spring Ponders Butterfield Timeline

  1. I guess with all the discussion about Butterfield, nobody paid much attention to this little gem, hidden away towards the end of the article:

    Referring to wastewater superintendent Greg Phillips: “He added that the water-main relining project is planned to resume when Mainlining Services Inc. returns around the end of March.”

    Are they kidding us? Just as this horrible (for business) winter is ending and our Spring/Summer selling season is beginning, they plan to basically destroy Main Street? I mean really, didn’t anybody notice what went on up the road in Nelsonville this past summer and fall when 301 was torn up, there were construction crews and equipment working on this project? Does anyone at Village Hall have any consideration for the beleaguered business owners who are going to have to deal with this on top of all the other problems we have?

    This should be an urgent call to action to any business owner who reads this. We must let the new mayor and board members know that this work needs to be put off until after the summer. They waited this long to do it, so it shouldn’t matter if they wait another few months instead of totally disrupting our businesses.

    Either the board doesn’t know or doesn’t care about the struggles that Main Street businesses have endured and continue to endure. We have invested our own money here and are trying desperately to be successful in a dismal economy. Now we are being told that our potential customers will have to navigate through a construction nightmare because public officials can’t figure out a better plan than to do this work during prime time.

    By the way, what about the Flower Power Festival and the Bike Race that are supposed to happen May 4th and 5th? I gather that the “producers” were at the meeting — did they say anything about this debacle or didn’t they notice?

    • Patty, this is a necessary infrastructure project that has been publicized and visible since Day 1. It has to be done, and the sooner it’s over and done with, the better. It’s not just an inconvenience to business owners; it’s no picnic for residents either. There’s never a convenient time to do something like this, and they are doing their best (within the budget) to minimize inconvenience. But it’s an inevitable logistical problem, and as you like to say, they need to be conscious of the financial costs to the taxpayers.

      I certainly understand that winters are tough on the Main Street merchants. I’m pretty sure it’s like that every winter (based upon the annual business closings and relocations that I’ve observed over the past 14 years), and always will be. Cold Spring is a small town without a sufficient resident population base to support a couple of dozen antique and gift shops, and it’s not on the way to anywhere, so unless out-of-towners are specifically coming here to shop (and that’s unlikely in the cold winter months), then business will be slow. I’m sure you must have been aware of this when you chose to come to Cold Spring, so I’m not really sure why you’re making a big fuss about this particular project, and I don’t see how you can blame local government officials for implementing necessary infrastructure improvements. I seriously doubt it will have any significant impact on your business (but granted, it certainly won’t help).

      During the week, I live in the city next to the construction site of the 2nd Ave. subway line, and I (along with tens of thousands of others) have been dealing with blasting that shakes the entire block and walking right through the middle of a busy and dangerous construction zone every day for several years, and with at least three more years to go. Our favorite neighborhood restaurant has closed due to the construction, and my barber (and friend) will be moving once the construction is over, due to the inevitable rent increase he’ll be subjected to. But I don’t complain about it, because it will be a huge benefit to the community when it’s complete. I’m just sorry it wasn’t built 75 years ago. But, better late than never. And I feel the same about the water main relining.

      • Robert, thanks for your comments, and also for the information about the other projects. I too lived in Manhattan back in the day and experienced construction on Second Avenue similar to what you describe. As far as my business in Cold Spring, I came here with my eyes wide open as to the seasonal life of Main Street and the number of businesses that have come and gone. (In fact, if you do a search, you can find old Cold Spring websites that list some 30 odd busineses that are no longer in existence.)

        This is not the first retail store I’ve had in Putnam/Westchester and I know that NY winters are tough for every business that depends on people walking through their doors, rather than sitting in their PJs online. That being said, our holiday season suffered through a “perfect storm” of events including the hurricane and a presidential election, that took their toll on retailers of every size, including the Big Box stores. What I was not prepared for in Cold Spring however, is what I perceive to be a state of denial that exists among some, and an unwillingness to admit there are problems, let alone try to solve them.

        Cold Spring is a great place, one of the most beautiful in the entire Hudson Valley region. The people are incredibly engaged, so much so that there are two newspapers filled with articles and commentary about the daily life of the town, and I don’t know of another community in the region that can say that. But like so many others across the USA, our Main Street is in trouble. The same forces that are causing small businesses to close their doors in NY City and elsewhere are also affecting us, and unlike the larger cities, we don’t have nearly the volume of visitors that come here in even in good weather. The only reason I continue to write about all of this is simply because I do care about what happens here, and I know there are things that can be done to make it better for all of us.

        As far as the water main project, I hope you are right and that they get it over with quickly, before the summer season. I drove through Nelsonville quite frequently when that phase was being worked on, and it was not as non-intrusive as some would have you believe.

    • I’d also like to mention that I attended a meeting at the firehouse last year where they detailed the Main Street improvement project that you’ve been inquiring about (I tried to locate a news article that described this meeting for you, but came up empty). I was there for the portion of the meeting that was relevant to the complete rebuilding of Furnace Street (I’m sure that will be great fun for us residents). All I can say is, if you think the water main relining project is bad for business, wait until they dig up the Main Street sidewalks! And, like you, I hope it’s done sooner rather than later, despite the inevitable mess and inconvenience.