Pawling Downtown Moves Forward

A long-discussed construction project in the Village of Pawling is continuing to take shape. The current site of Downey Auto Repair & Used Car Sales, at 68 Charles Colman Boulevard, is the proposed site of a new senior housing building. The facility, to be called Pawling Downtown, will offer affordable housing to the area’s growing senior population. However, the project has been met with skepticism by area residents, who attended two public hearings, on November 27 and December 11, to voice their concerns.

Pawling Downtown, a proposed four-story building containing 42 units of senior housing, is designed and intended for occupancy solely by occupants age 55 and older. The installation will feature a number of amenities such as a community room, laundry facilities, and outdoor seating, as well as a van to transport residents to shopping or medical appointments. The project will be co-developed by Hudson River Housing, Inc., of Poughkeepsie, which will also be a partial owner. Hudson River Housing has also partnered in similar senior housing projects in Red Hook, Hyde Park, Poughkeepsie, and Orange County.

During the November 27 public hearing, the Village Planning Board heard a presentation from Peter Beck, one of the principles for Pawling Downtown. Beck outlined the project and emphasized that the proposed design of the building will be in keeping with the current visual aesthetic of the village. “We’ve tried to complement the Dutcher House’s historic appearance,” he said. “We’re very proud of the facade that we’ve designed.”

Pawling Downtown will provide affordable senior housing in accordance with the Fair Housing Act and will not be limited solely to Pawling residents. Residents will pay rent based on established countywide metrics. The average unit rent for Pawling Downtown will be $795 per month.

During the Public Comment portion of the evening, a crowd of more than thirty residents voiced a number of concerns about the housing project. The majority of residents who addressed the Planning Board spoke about the issue of parking, citing the current lack of spaces available in the village. Others in attendance voiced concerns regarding fire safety, water availability, the size of the building, the impact on area taxes, and concerns that the project will become Section 8 housing. All visitor comments were taken under consideration to be addressed at the second meeting on December 11.

When the Village Planning Board reconvened on December 11, it heard a presentation from Phillip Grealy, Principal/Department Manager from Maser Consulting. Maser conducted a parking evaluation for the property at 68 Colman Boulevard and presented its findings in response to concerns about the lack of parking available in the immediate area. In total, Pawling Downtown will have 27 parking spaces, two of which will be designated for staff members. On-street parking is also permitted on surrounding roadways, subject to time restrictions.

Upon the completion of the parking evaluation, it was revealed that the current parking availability falls short of the standard ratio for senior housing facilities. To alleviate this problem, Grealy presented a number of recommendations, including the exploration of possible properties to provide off-street parking, and provide striping and widening, which would allow for more spaces on Union Street, Elm Street, and Arch Street.

Planning Board Chair Michael Grogan read a letter provided by Mary Linge, Director of Real Estate Development for Hudson River Housing. In the letter, Linge addressed resident concerns about possible Section 8 housing. She wrote: “There is a misconception that affordable housing means ‘Section 8’ or ‘HUD’ housing. These misunderstood and often misused terms only describe different financing mechanisms that help keep the costs of housing down. It is true that Hudson River Housing provides housing for the entire spectrum of individuals in our community. That is because we believe everyone should have a safe, affordable place to call home.”

Following the close of the public hearing, the Village Planning Board agreed to take residents’ comments and the results of the parking evaluation into consideration. The site plan for Pawling Downtown will also be presented to the Village Board and the Zoning Board of Appeals. Any resident who wishes to comment on the project’s development may do so by submitting comments in writing by December 25, 2018, to the Village of Pawling Planning Board, 9 Memorial Ave.

The next Village of Pawling Planning Board will be held on Tuesday, January 22 at 7:00 p.m. at Village Hall, 9 Memorial Ave.