Planning Board Critiques Butterfield Documentation, Seeks Changes

Developer’s report found in need of more information

By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong

Cold Spring’s Planning Board Wednesday closely scrutinized a key document on the planned Butterfield redevelopment project and found it wanting, with members anxious for more data on numerous topics, including fire-safety water flows, traffic patterns, implications for village infrastructure, and what happens if condominiums planned for retiree-age residents cannot be sold to that age group.

At its monthly meeting, the board went line-by-line through a 13-page memo from Charles Voss, senior land-use planner for the firm of Barton & Loguidice, the village government’s outside expert, analyzing the project’s Expanded Environmental Assessment Form (EAF). Butterfield owner-developer Paul Guillaro and his team submitted the EAF in May. Despite its name, it covers not only the project’s anticipated effects on nature but on such elements of village life as the local economy and community character.

Voss’ memo reflected not only his evaluation but comments from Planning Board members at previous meetings, and the board members largely agreed with its content. After the board reviewed the memo, Voss promised to update it to incorporate their latest suggestions and provide a revised text by late Thursday (Oct. 17) afternoon. Ultimately, the memo will go to Guillaro, and his planning firm, Tim Miller Associates Inc., to allow them to provide the material the Planning Board thought lacking.

In its analysis, the Planning Board focused directly on the EAF, a 62-page-plus multi-section document, not on the overall merits or physical design of the proposed complex itself. On the old Butterfield Hospital property, Guillaro plans to build 55 condominiums as “senior citizen” housing – actually for those of retiree age, 55 and above; an intergovernmental municipal building, three stand-alone single-family houses, and a retail-commercial square.

Discussing safety issues, Voss’ memo called for more information on village water systems and the ability to fight fires on the site once developed. “The applicant needs to demonstrate that sufficient fire-flow capacity is available,” the memo stated. “Has testing of existing hydrants within or adjacent to the project area been performed to confirm available fire-flow rate and duration fire-flow rates can be sustained?”

Voss also said at the meeting that the Cold Spring Fire Company should take another look at the proposed complex to see if their equipment can deal with buildings of the height planned.

Similarly, Guillaro should “demonstrate sufficient water capacity exists to service the project area,” and “needs to demonstrate sufficient sanitary-sewer capacity exists,” the memo said. Furthermore, given the expected condominium occupants, the memo said that “a more thorough analysis of the potential impacts to senior-related community services” such as ambulances “needs to be provided to better understand how this aged population will be taken care of.”

And, the memo stated, “an emergency-vehicle access assessment and analysis should be provided that illustrates clear and unopposed access to all internal and external areas of the site for all the village’s existing emergency-response vehicles.”

The memo also noted that the EAF makes “repeated references to a ‘community center’ and ‘senior center’ proposed for the site. Clarification is needed to determine how this facility is to be characterized, used, owned, and maintained,” the memo advised. “Will the center be open to the general public or limited to just residents of the site proper?”

In addition, the memo requested “a thorough discussion of potential contingencies in the event that the proposed 55 units of ‘senior’ housing cannot be sold to seniors” as well as an explanation of whether  occupants of the “senior” or retiree-age housing would have to be 55 or older, or could be children with a parent who is 55 years old.

Regarding open space, the memo asked for “additional details about the intended use, maintenance, access and ownership of the proposed ‘Gateway Park’ located on the western portion of the site. Will ownership of this park be deeded over to the village? Will the park be open to the public?”

Voss also urged clarification of the development’s effect on traffic. “The [EAF] study needs to account for the amount of existing site traffic” and show internal traffic circulation within the property as developed. Moreover, it continued, the EAF “in general terms mentions pedestrian and bicycle traffic in and around the site, including access to village businesses and trails, some of which will require pedestrians to cross Route 9D.

The study should include a detailed description of existing pedestrian and bicycle accommodations and how the future traffic will be accommodated, especially with the sight-distance issues” – the fact that “the site is located on the inside of a curve along Route 9D and sight-distance for vehicles entering and exiting the site is significantly limited.”

Overall, Planning Board Chairman Barney Molloy said, whenever the EAF says something conclusive, “we want to see back-up and documentation that supports that statement.” As to a time frame, he said at the onset that “this process could take anywhere from several weeks to several months,” depending on how quickly the developer can provide answers and rework the EAF.

One thought on “Planning Board Critiques Butterfield Documentation, Seeks Changes

  1. Building 55 condo units will increase the elderly population in Cold Spring by as much as 32 percent. Changing the demographic composition of the village this severely will certainly have economic and financial consequences. Has any study been done on the impact on funding for Haldane? Or on the increase in taxes to the residents who currently live in the village? This seems like necessary information if the planning board is going to consider all the impacts of this current proposal.