Play Nice the New Way Forward on Butterfield

Main Street project also moves ahead

By Michael Turton

The Cold Spring Village Board met in a joint session with the Planning Board Tuesday, May 22, to go over the details of the proposed zoning change that will add a mixed use and a residential designation as part of the ongoing effort to redevelop the Butterfield Hospital site.

A joint meeting of Cold Spring's Village Board and Planning Board included a detailed review of proposed zoning changes for the Butterfield Hospital site. Photo by M. Turton

A joint meeting of Cold Spring’s Village Board and Planning Board included a detailed review of proposed zoning changes for the Butterfield Hospital site. Photo by M. Turton

The meeting was further indication of Mayor Ralph Falloon’s efforts to smooth out working relationships among the various village boards. In describing the purpose of the meeting, Falloon said, “It’s only fair that we know how each other feels — there was not much discussion before,” referring to the sometimes testy atmosphere during previous Mayor Seth Gallagher’s administration. “We need to support each other — on this and other projects,” Falloon said.

With that, members of the two boards dove into an in-depth discussion of the proposed zoning amendment. The Planning Board will use the results of the meeting to revise language and then make its recommendation to the Village Board. They also plan to invite developer Paul Guillaro of Butterfield Realty LLC and Tim Miller of Tim Miller Associates, Inc. to their next meeting in hopes of finalizing some of the significant details.

One such issue arose in a discussion regarding setbacks and alignment of the proposed new buildings. Both boards agreed that an objective measure, such as GPS coordinates, should be required on site plans as benchmarks, in order to determine compliance.

Meeting room and restaurant?

Currently, the proposed zoning requires that the community meeting space provided as part of the senior housing complex be the equivalent of 10 percent of the square footage devoted to senior housing. Guillaro had proposed that part of the space be outdoors, adjacent to the “breezeway” building that would house the meeting room. That issue will have to be negotiated. As Trustee Matt Francisco pointed out, much of the year, including the hot summer months, is unsuitable for outdoor use, especially for seniors.

The possibility of allowing a restaurant to be included in the development was also aired. “With 55 (housing) units, a restaurant is not a bad idea,” Planning Board Member Arne Saari said. Village Attorney Stephen Gaba wasn’t so sure. “During the planning charrettes, including a restaurant didn’t pan out in the discussions. You’re opening a can of worms,” he said. Gaba suggested that the board reach out to a planner to discuss feasibility.

Parking and utilities

The current proposal calls for all required parking to be contained on the Butterfield site, however Francisco observed that the plan does not include a loading dock, which would be needed if the post office relocates there. The dock would use part of the designated parking area. The plan does not call for any parking along Route 9D adjacent to the development. Francisco said that Guillaro didn’t want to risk it becoming an issue with the Department of Transportation but that parking along that section of the road could possibly be added later. “It’s not a deal breaker; it gives us some wiggle room,” Falloon said. “It’s not going to hold up the project.”

Questions were raised about the developer’s responsibility with regard to the cost of installing utilities. “Village approvals will have to include hookups to water, sewer, etc.” Gaba said. “It’s the type of thing you have to negotiate before any approvals.”

Medical capacity and efficiency apartments

Dick Weissbrod asked whether or not medical staff and facilities in the Lahey Pavilion are adequate to meet the needs of more than 80 new residents who will live in the new development. “It’s not an issue for Guillaro, but it is a planning issue,” he said. Trustee Stephanie Hawkins responded, “We ask that question about schools — it makes sense to ask it here.”

Efficiency apartments, units of about only 500 square feet, are an acceptable use in the draft zoning amendment as it now stands, as taken directly from the existing Village Code. There was widespread agreement to remove that reference, since the smaller units have never been proposed as part of the Butterfield development.

Lead agency role and process

Falloon clarified his reasoning over having the Village Board act as lead agency for the SEQRA review, a requirement of the zoning amendment process, rather than having the Planning Board take on that role. Twice during the meeting, Weissbrod questioned why the Village Board and not the Planning Board should play that role. “It morphed into us taking on that responsibility,” Falloon said, indicating that in essence, the two boards should do the work together. “We can do the legal part but lean on the Planning Board for the planning (aspects).”

There was a drawn out and at times very confusing discussion regarding the sequence to be followed in dealing with the SEQRA review, the zoning amendment and approval of the final site plan for the Butterfield development. The conversation often resembled a hybrid of “Who’s on first?” and “Which came first — the chicken or the egg?” In the end, Gaba explained that the components can be carried out in near parallel fashion. He explained that the SEQRA document is required before the zoning amendment can become law and that the site plan will be “essentially done” by the time the Planning Board gets it, but only after that board has vetted the draft plan.

Main Street project

Trustees reviewed comments from the consulting firm Greenplan regarding the draft design report for the Main Street project to improve sidewalks and the street itself. Only three issues remain to be resolved with CHA, the company that will oversee the work: possible use of textured pedestrian crosswalks; installation of “bump-outs,” a traffic calming device that narrows a roadway by extending the width of sidewalks in certain sections; and installation of “Shared Road” signs as a safety measure for cyclists.

Community Day now Independence Day

A letter to Mayor Falloon from American Legion Commander Earl Gunderson and Veterans of Foreign Wars Commander Roger Keppel decried the use of name “Community Day” to describe Cold Spring’s celebration of the Fourth of July. The joint letter stated in part, “We strongly feel that to promote this date as anything other than Independence Day is to dilute the importance of what this date means to our country’s history.” The board unanimously agreed, and the event’s name will be changed; exact wording to be determined.

Village attorney search

As part of its search for a new village attorney, trustees will interview four law firms, two each in meetings to be held Monday, June 3, and Monday, June 10, at 7:30 p.m. at the Village Hall. Trustee Bruce Campbell also recently received inquiries from one or two additional firms. They may be interviewed as well.

4 thoughts on “Play Nice the New Way Forward on Butterfield

  1. Quick update: Due to conflicts scheduling the use of Village Hall on June 3, the Village Board will set a different date for interviews that would have been held that night. The new date will be noticed.

  2. Before considering “bump outs” for Main Street, the board should drive through Fishkill on Route 52, west of Route 9. Bump outs are employed there, but they only appear to clog traffic, especially at intersections. If “calming” means slowing down traffic, I have not noticed any difference since the Fishkill bump outs were installed.

  3. After reading about the Main Street project, I am left scratching my head, trying to figure out just what exactly they have planned for us. I don’t see any mention of replacing the outdated and inadequate street lights or the clumps of overhead wires that make beautiful Cold Spring look something like downtown Mumbai. Maybe it’s because I’m a relative newbie, but I haven’t heard much discussion or acknowledgment that there even is a problem with lighting and street-scapes.

    With all these planners and consultants, I’m surprised that there’s not more affirmative action being taken. A relatively simple thing like putting up attractive street lights along Main Street could effectively help to revitalize the business district and extend the hours during which people will be walking and shopping.

    Then again, I’m sure there are those in town who don’t want to see that happen and perhaps they are the silent majority. I still can’t figure it out — Cold Spring politics is a mystery, even to an activist like myself. But I do know this, if something isn’t done soon to spruce things up, correct the blatant violations that are allowed to exist (and I don’t mean signage either), change the zoning laws to keep street level storefronts for retail and restaurants only, and to generally make Main Street more appealing to visitors, there are going to be a lot of shopkeepers looking to find another way to make a living.

  4. Really study the “bump out” before consideration. They are a pain for bicycles and the added sidewalk space for pedestrians is useless. Main Street is short and well-used — not a drag strip — and “calming” is not needed. Consider more 15 minutes spaces. The parking space lines beg for remeasuring! More benches please for residents and tourists to use. A community garden design for the Butterfield property was submitted years ago, but guess that fell on deaf ears. 🙁