Proposed Corporate Construction Draws Controversy

Digital rendering provided to the planning committee.

Community members convened at a New Paltz Planning Board meeting Monday to share thoughts on the future of a proposed CVS Pharmacy and Five Guys Burgers plaza project on the intersection of North Putt Corners Road and State Route 299.

This Sept. 28 meeting held the last session of a public hearing on the topic that was opened in May. (Board members said the hearing ended because the publics’ comments were becomming repeititve). Permission to purchase and develop the 5.7 acre lot was first applied for by Trans-Hudson in September of 2013 and has since come under much scrutiny.

While comments in favor of an Enviromental Impact Study (EIS) dominated the hearing, the board has not yet decided if the proposal will require the study as they continue to evaluate information provided by Trans-Hudson including a traffic study and wetlands assessment report.

“This proposal will generate numerous large impacts,” New Paltz resident Michael Zierler said speaking on his own behalf.

An EIS describes any impacts to the environment (land, water, air, structures, living organisms, environmental values at the site and the social, cultural and economic aspects) of a proposed action.

The environmental impacts discussed included the possible effects to the Millbrook Preserve at a result of increased runoff from the site and the degradation of wildlife habitats.  A one-day assessment of the property, completed in July at the request of the board, was said to indicate that the land was once farmland that has been overgrown and is not a native wetland, according to the Town’s Wetland Inspector, Norbert Quenzer of Bagdon Environmental.

Along with concern for the project’s environmental impacts, residents also questioned the effects that this project would have on local businesses, such as Dedrick’s Pharmacy on Main Street.

“You can’t just bring small business back once it’s gone,” New Paltz resident Peter Kaufman said, speaking on his own behalf.

Village resident Judy Mayes expressed the convenience of small businesses downtown which she can reach on a bicycle, adding that the construction of a CVS would be equivalent to adding “cholesterol” to New Paltz.

Traffic was another major concern. Should the plaza come to fruition, the intersection would have to be redesigned to accommodate the new entrances to the parking lot and the increase in vehicles that will be going through it at any given time. The proposal would redesign the intersection with crosswalks and a right-turn-only arrow replacing the current yield slip lane for drivers going from Route 299 onto N. Putt Corners Road.

Additionally, the trucks that will be going to and from the site during construction may clog up the intersection. David Clouser, the planning board’s engineering inspector, said at the meeting that an estimated 1,800 truck trips in and out of the site will occur during the proposed seven and a half week construction period – three loads per hour during an eight-hour work day.

One attendee was in favor of granting Trans-Hudson the opportunity to buy the land: the broker representing the current owner of the property. He said the owner is currently paying a lot of taxes on a vacant lot of young woodland that he does not use and wants the board to approve the deal so he can sell the land and move on.

The original September 2013 proposal was for a CVS pharmacy with a drive through and a five-pump Stop & Shop gas station. It has been modified multiple times and the most recent site plans, as of March 2015, indicate only the construction of a CVS, Five Guys Burgers and Fries and  an accompanying 101-spot parking lot.

Although the public hearing was closed Monday night, the planning board has extended an invitation to anyone to submit written comments until close of business on Tuesday, Oct. 13 and may decide to reopen the hearing again in the future. Anyone who wishes to say something on this topic at a board meeting must do so in the public comment section. The board meets again on Monday, Oct. 19.