A planned plaza for New Scotland will feature all retail space

The Enterprise — Sean Mulkerrin

Architect Dan Sanders answers a question about the newly approved plaza off of Route 85A.

NEW SCOTLAND — Fifteen months after first being proposed, Ron Kay’s development plan for a parcel of land off of Route 85A, between Stonewell Plaza and Falvo’s Meat Market, was given conditional approval by the planning board at its Sept. 5 meeting.

After public comments, and before what would be a unanimous vote, Chairperson Charles Voss said, “The board is comfortable” and “generally in favor of the project.”  

Kay said he was “happy to finally make headway,” and that the development is “good for the community, and we’re excited to begin.”

The site is near the historic Bender melon farm where a proposal for a Target-anchored shopping mall led to a massive public protest and size-cap law.

Originally proposed as a “mixed-use” development, with 30 apartment units and 16,000 square feet of retail space, Kay’s project was scaled back, leaving the retail space intact and removing the housing.

The original design would have required a sewer tie-in; the approved plan uses a septic system.

Luigi Palleschi of ABD Engineers told the Enterprise last Thursday, “It really came down to the sewer, the apartments required a lot more sewer and there isn’t any nearby.” Jeremy Cramer, building inspector for New Scotland, also told the Enterprise last Thursday that the original proposal was to hook into the Bethlehem sewer system, but that would require a sewer district extension and the running of a new sewer line, which is costly.

Before the board gave conditional approval, residents raised concerns about the size of the building, the size of the septic system, accessibility for vendors making deliveries, the type of tenants moving in, and traffic. Other residents voiced support for the project.

Noting traffic and congestion concerns, Mary Boyce said that there is only one way in and out of the plaza and said, “The way this stands right now I think it’s going to be pretty congested.” She asked about installing a second entrance and was told the development had originally had two curb-cuts, allowing for a second entrance to the plaza, but the Department of Transportation did not like that. Palleschi said that congestion on site may vary because of the types of businesses in the plaza.

One resident noted the proposed drive-through and wanted to keep it within the development’s “hamlet mentality,” saying a Starbucks is OK, but a Burger King is not. The commenter was told by the planning board attorney, Crystal Peck, that the town can’t discriminate about what business moves into the development.

Supporting the project, John Hall said, “We are limited to how much we can grow,” and it “doesn’t make sense not to approve this project.” He added that the “town is getting a facelift, it’s beautiful now; this is a great addition.” 

Conditions

The planning board set forth a number of conditions to be met for the plaza’s approval.

The hours of construction will be 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, with no work on Sundays or holidays, and no work on the interior of the buildings outside of the approved hours.  

Interconnection access must be allowed for future development. This could be a road or walkway; it is dependent on future adjacent development.

Some parking spots must be “banked.” Meaning areas that are supposed to be for parking will remain green space until more parking is needed

The design of any sign for the development has to be approved by the planning board. Individual business signs are to be placed on awnings with no internal illumination. Exterior window and door signs are not permitted.

The trim along the roof lines of both buildings is to be widened.  Roof-mounted units for heating and air conditioning are not allowed. All units must conform to the site plan.

A revised site plan must be submitted that shows “banked” parking, stone veneer added to the retaining wall, and updates to landscaping.

Approval of a site plan is required for individual businesses.

The site plan needs to be modified to include an area identified as “Future Patio.”

All of the exterior lighting has to be dimmable and in compliance with the town’s lighting law.

The stormwater-management system details have to be finalized in accordance with recommendations of the town engineer.

The location of a master water meter has to be finalized in accordance with the recommendation and approval of the town engineer.

All outstanding escrows must be paid.

A new water district to service the development must be defined and approved.

Sign conundrum

The planning board is looking for guidance as to what constitutes a flashing sign.

Currently, the zoning code of New Scotland does not allow for flashing signs, but there is no concrete definition of flashing. There is ambiguity in the code; whether it was on purpose or overlooked is not known. This allows for an interpretation by the town’s building inspector as individual applications come in.

At the Sept. 5 meeting, planning board member Dan Leinung said, “The planning board can’t say what a flashing sign is; that is beyond our determination.” He added, “That is a question for the zoning board of appeals.”

The question stems from an application submitted by Hudson Valley Italian Restaurant Inc., owners of Track 32 Italian Pub, for a digital message board sign.

After some back and forth with the planning board, the restaurant’s representative agreed that its sign would not scroll, would have just two colors, and would change its message only four times per day.

After making this adjustment, Cramer did not consider the sign to be flashing, and the application was allowed to move forward with a special-use permit to the planning board.

The planning board challenged Cramer’s determination, meaning the zoning board will weigh in on the matter. This is because the sign uses new technology unfamiliar in New Scotland. The planning board is looking for a standard to move forward with — the creation of a definition of what constitutes a flashing sign.

Also during the planning meeting, James Olsen submitted an application for special-use permit to allow for an electronic sign similar to the sign that Track 32 is seeking, for his new self-storage facility 1944 New Scotland Road.

Other business

In other business, the board:

— Scheduled a public hearing for a special-use permit for Black Birds Prime Property to allow for an auto-sales business to be located on a parcel it owns in the commercial district at 1972 New Scotland Road; and
— Gave the zoning board a positive recommendation for a variance after it requested an opinion to allow James Olsen to place a detached sign 14 feet back from the property line, allowing for the closer placement of the sign to the street is a separate issue from the type of sign Olsen is seeking.

 

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