Public hearing set for April 29
By Michael Turton
The stage finally seems set for a public hearing on a zoning amendment, which if approved by the Cold Spring Board of Trustees, will lead to the redevelopment of the Butterfield site. Trustees approved what should be final changes to wording of the proposed B4A zoning at their workshop on April 10.
The Village Board had rejected an earlier attempt at amending the zoning in January 2013, after strong public opposition was expressed at the hearing. The amendment is required in order to bring the Medical and Healthcare Facility Mixed Use District proposed for Butterfield by developer Paul Guillaro, in line with the Village Zoning Code.
A changed political landscape
A lot has changed since early 2013, including the election of a new mayor and two new trustees and a reconstituted Planning Board. After two postponements, the public hearing is now slated for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 29, in the Haldane music room. If the revised zoning is approved at the close of the hearing, detailed site planning can begin.
On March 11, 2014, Planning Board Chair Barney Molloy formally presented Mayor Ralph Falloon with that board’s comments on the new version of the zoning in a memo that was the by-product of some 14 Planning Board meetings. Unlike the first public hearing, little if any public concern was raised during that process. After initial discussions of the memo bore little fruit, the Village Board requested that Chuck Voss, consultant to the Planning Board, and Planning Board lawyer Anna L. Georgiou, prepare revised wording for the draft B4A Zoning based on the Planning Board’s suggestions. It was that wording that was the center of discussion last Thursday.
Tied to the proposed B4A zoning is Guillaro’s concept plan for the 5.6-acre site that calls for mixed uses including retail, commercial, single-family housing, senior housing and community center and government offices. Medical offices currently located in the Lahey pavilion would be kept as is.
Input from Voss and Georgiou resulted in trustees approving a number of revisions to the proposed zoning amendment — including defining senior citizen housing as “age-restricted facilities which meet the special housing needs of senior citizens, limit occupancy of each dwelling to no more than two persons, and comply with the ‘housing for older persons’ exception from the federal Fair Housing Act.” Each senior citizen unit must have at least one person 55 years of age or older living in it, while no one under the age of 18 will be permitted to live there.
Building size and location
In response to concerns over the “mass” of proposed buildings, a clause was deleted that would have permitted building size to increase by up to 10 percent more than shown in the concept plan. Three private residences that will front on Paulding Avenue, however “may be of any size” as long as they conform to applicable village zoning. The Planning Board had suggested that consideration be given to allow buildings of up to 45 feet in height, but with reductions in their footprint of up to 25 percent, as a means of increasing the amount of open space on site.
After a lengthy discussion it was agreed that the maximum building height would remain at 35 feet. There was general agreement that the 25 percent reduction in footprint was too severe — and perhaps more importantly, Steven Barshov, Guillaro’s lawyer, indicated that the developer had no interest in building to 45 feet.
In implementing the site plan, placement of buildings will not be permitted to be moved by more than 15 feet, although if the Planning Board determines that “greater flexibility is warranted” they may be moved a maximum of 25 feet. Similarly, the orientation of buildings can’t vary from the concept plan by more than 10 degrees unless the Planning Board again considers flexibility to be appropriate — in which case a variance of up to 15 degrees could be permitted.
Trustee Stephanie Hawkins questioned the potential impact that a coffee shop/luncheonette at Butterfield might have on similar existing businesses in the village. She also questioned the maximum 1,000 square feet permitted for such an operation — citing possible negative impacts on neighbors. Trustee Cathryn Fadde, who owns Cathryn’s Tuscan Grill on Main Street, said she didn’t feel a luncheonette would have a negative effect on other local restaurants.
In the end there was considerable agreement that 1,000 square feet was more than what is needed for a luncheonette, while limiting the maximum number of seated customers to 15 is appropriate. At Trustee Mike Bowman’s suggestion, the maximum square footage was reduced to 750 square feet.
‘That ship has sailed’
Planning Board member Anne Impellizzeri suggested that if the development included more commercial space it would help assure a tax positive project however no action was taken on the idea.
When Hawkins asked Falloon if he would consider having an independent financial review of the proposed project undertaken to evaluate its overall impact on the village, the mayor replied that he didn’t think it was a good use of taxpayer dollars. Falloon said he was satisfied with the Planning Board and consultant’s review of related information provided in the EAF and that the village assessor had indicated that the tax revenue estimates contained in that document were a bit low.
Hawkins persisted, questioning the financial impact of the 55 condominiums, which pay a reduced tax rate. Barshov said that the Planning Board had met “a gazillion times on that” and that the analysis was done. “That’s over,” he said.
Barshov was consistent in his message regarding Hawkins’ questioning of financial impact, or having to make any major changes to the concept plan. He said that while “tweaking” was understandable, major changes at this stage would be a problem. “That ship has sailed,” he said more than once.
Residents want concept plan renderings
The meeting was conducted without the benefit of maps or illustrations depicting the concept plan for Butterfield, at least for the audience. Trustees were able to refer to the concept plan. Cold Spring resident Joe Patrick urged Guillaro to provide illustrations of the proposed development at the upcoming public hearing. Former Trustee Matt Francisco agreed and suggested that a 3D model be made available. Local architect and past chairman of the Zoning Board of Appeals Donald MacDonald supported that idea, commenting that residents are being asked to approve something “when we don’t have a clue what it looks like.” Barshov replied, “We’ll look at what we can do.”
The revised zoning and the concept plan are available on the Village of Cold Spring website.