Planning Board discusses, debates area projects

Chester. The first meeting of the month featured updates from developers.

| 08 Feb 2023 | 12:52

The Town of Chester February planning board meeting featured discussions on four projects coming to the area, presentations from developers, comments from the board, and some tense debates.

Subdivision proposed

The applicant for a proposed re-subdivision of a lot from NMC3, a seven-lot estate subdivision located on 145 Kings Highway, requested to subdivide one of the lots and add a 3.8-acre lot, including residential and farmland entrances. A map of these plans had been sent to the county for highway approval but no word has come yet .

In response, the board required the developer to complete a SEQR form and other paperwork before they can vote on the project. Planning board member Larry Dysinger questioned if the applicant got permission from the county to clear more trees than they were allowed to.

“You’re already well over five acres of land cleared,” Dysinger said.

Warehouse update

An update on Davidson Drive Holdings, a 166,000-square-foot warehouse slated for construction on Lake Station Road, was given. Mike Morgante, the lead engineer of the project, addressed the main issues that the board and residents had from the Jan 14 public hearing, including habitat concerns, visual impacts, and issues related to its stormwater pollution plant.

Over the last month, the applicant and partners surveyed the area for bog turtle nests, carried out borings throughout the site, and created a few new renders for the building. Frank Filliciotto, the project’s traffic consultant, also explained that trucks will likely take the Kings Highway bypass and drive through Belleville Road to reach the warehouse due to being the most efficient route.

Planning board chairman Don Serotta requested that the developer’s team take school buses into heavy consideration when conducting their traffic reports. He also mentioned that some of the roads along that route are short and narrow, which can be problematic for trucks.

Broccoli Patch

Broccoli Patch -- an 11,000-square-foot multipurpose facility proposed for 1355 Kings Highway in the place of the defunct Sugar Loaf Commercial Center -- would include a distillery for whiskey production, a restaurant with catering services, and residential space. Lewis Donnelly, the applicant and former owner of the Sugar Loaf Commercial Center, will also utilize some of the space for his own house and barn.

Kristen O’Donnell, a planner for Lanc & Tully Engineering and Surveying, collaborated with the planning board and provided a report on Broccoli Patch. One of her biggest points was that the project’s latest revisions did not address the county’s concerns, including suggestions for tree preservation, offsite parking, and breaking the building into several smaller ones. The board shared a similar sentiment and requested Donnelly to further modify his plans before resubmitting them.

In rebuttal, Donnelly said he recently spoke with Alan Sorensen, Commissioner of Planning for Orange County, who told him that the project did not have any significant impact on the town or county. Donnelly also expressed frustration with his treatment from both the planning and town board, as he originally wanted to solely build a house but the town board stopped him.

“I was going to live here. The town came to me and said ‘please don’t turn it into your house, do something commercial. They called me downstairs, we had a meeting. I wasn’t doing this, they asked me to do it,” Donnelly said.

“They said to me ‘Louie, please, why do not rethink that? You could still have your house there, and you could build a business. You’d have multiple businesses now, please don’t take that. That’s the heart of our community, it’s great parking, it’s all this great stuff,’” he continued.

Serotta told Donnelly that the planning board must complete a full review of the project and ensure it is suitable for the town. While the board checked out the site and made comments, they need more information from Donnelly before moving Broccoli Patch further in the process.

“You weren’t even a nickel close to coming to a public hearing at this point in time,” Serotta said.

Near the end of the meeting, Black Meadow Crossing, a 25,000-square-foot commercial facility proposed for 1597 New York Route 17M that would include a dance studio and a shed for equipment and props was discussed. The board took some issue with the shed and its classification but granted the applicant a temporary permit for it as they work through their plans.