Formula Business Ban Close to Final Form

Developer wants fence at Butterfield

By Michael Turton

Cold Spring’s Village Board continued to inch its way toward enacting a new law prohibiting “formula businesses” at its Tuesday (Nov. 19) meeting. The law would prevent franchises, including restaurants and other retail chains from setting up shop in the village while exempting certain vital services such as banks.

Trustees considered two slightly different versions of the proposed law as presented by special counsel Warren Replansky, contacted via speaker phone during the meeting. In one version, restaurant chains that have 10 or more outlets in the U.S. would be banned. Both versions specify such features as standardized menus and uniforms in defining the types of restaurants to be banned.

The second version doesn’t specify a number of restaurants, stating instead that franchises that include “other restaurants in the U.S.” would not be allowed. Both drafts include a clause prohibiting restaurants that exhibit two of four criteria dealing with such things as the restaurant name, distinctive signage and architecture, ready-to-eat prepared food and food sold over the counter in disposable containers.

It appears likely that there will be a numerical limit on the number of restaurants a small franchise can operate and still remain within the law, with 10 being the most likely cutoff point. Replansky said that New York State also has legislation pending that uses that number as part of a law that would empower municipalities across the state to limit formula businesses.

The need to also include and define such businesses as grocery stores, pharmacies and fast food markets in the law was also discussed. “You might as well take a shot at making the law as stringent as possible,” Replansky said, while acknowledging, “It’s almost impossible to draft something that covers everything.”  He said that once such a law is passed, disputes are usually dealt with by the Zoning Board of Appeals. Replansky will make further revisions to the wording of the draft law.

Butterfield fence gets no support

Developer Paul Guillaro has asked the Village Board to grant him permission to erect a 6-foot high, chain-link fence at the former Butterfield Hospital site in order to secure the building there. Mayor Ralph Falloon read a recent letter from Guillaro in which he identifies, “serious health and safety concerns” due to break-ins, vandalism and arson at the site. The letter also states that Guillaro’s insurance company is requiring him to put up the fence.

The former Butterfield hospital (file photo by M. Turton)

The former Butterfield hospital
(file photo by M. Turton)

“A 6-foot fence is not allowed (under) the Village Code,” Trustee Matt Francisco said, adding that it would require a variance. “I’m also not convinced the insurance company would require a fence.” Francisco expressed concern that allowing the fence would set precedence, with fencing being seen as the solution on such properties rather than proper maintenance.

“There are (other) options open to him,” Trustee Stephanie Hawkins said, including securing all doors and windows.

Mayor Falloon pointed out that the village had erected a similar fence on its own property at The Grove, the historic building adjacent to Butterfield. Village Attorney Mike Liguori responded that the village is not subject to its own regulations. Liguori said that if vandalism became so bad at Butterfield that it becomes an issue the Village Board has to address, his view might be different. “If not, the code is the code.”

He went on to say that if the village building inspector had made a recommendation to the board then it would have some basis for action but, “You’re not in the business of waiving the code.”

Alison Anthoine, a member of the audience, suggested that the fence would only be a temporary measure and not there “forever.”

“There’s no guarantee,” Francisco said. “That fence could be there for a very long time.”

No action was taken.

Will Christmas lights shine or not?

The answer to the question of whether or not Main Street Cold Spring will be adorned with Christmas lights this year continues to be “maybe.” Central Hudson will no longer permit the traditional overhead lights used in the past and the Village Board and Cold Spring Area Chamber of Commerce have been scrambling to come up with a workable “Plan B.”

New electrical outlets recently installed on Main Street poles may make holiday lighting more doable next year, but Central Hudson won’t allow their use this year until liability concerns are resolved. Chamber of Commerce vice president Alison Anthoine said at Tuesday’s meeting the chamber now hopes to light 13 trees along Main Street.

In order to do that she said, power cords will have to be strung overhead from businesses or residences whose owners agree to be part of the project. “We have 10 days,” Anthoine said, in order to have lights up by Thanksgiving. “We have to find out what standards have to be met,” Trustee Hawkins said. “We need exact requirements.”

She said Building Inspector Bill Bujarski will inspect the hookups. “Nothing (proposed) is against code,” Mayor Falloon said. “The only issue is liability.” Asked how the chamber handled liability for the Pedal Into Spring event last May, Anthoine said that the chamber had to purchase a $1,000 insurance policy to cover liability for the two-day event.

Two agenda items – docking applications and fees and enforcement of the Village Code – were tabled in order to allow trustees to move into a closed session to seek advice from village legal counsel on an unspecified topic.

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