Planning Board Considers Pawling Downtown Project - Impact on Village Parking a Concern

On Tuesday, January 22, members of the Village Planning Board convened for their monthly meeting at Village Hall. The evening’s agenda included an in-depth discussion of the proposed Pawling Downtown housing project.

The current application for the project, originally filed last February, sought a special permit and site plan approval for a four-story, 42-unit facility for residents age 55 and older. The proposed project would be located at 68 Charles Colman Boulevard, the current site of Downey Auto Repair & Used Car Sales. The applicant for the project is co-developing with Hudson River Housing, Inc., of Poughkeepsie, which has built similar projects in Duchess County in Hyde Park and Red Hook. At this point, all the necessary applications for the project have been submitted.

The Pawling Downtown project has met with disapproval from numerous residents and business owners. Chief among the concerns are a lack of parking and the potential impact on traffic flow that the new facility would cause. Currently, the proposed plan would allot for 27 parking spaces to be used by residents.

A parking study conducted in December by Maser Engineering found the site lacked sufficient snow storage and requested a follow-up study to ensure that all parking spaces are accessible when the facility is at capacity. In addition, the applicant was asked to coordinate with fire and EMS personnel to ensure that the building was accessible at all times in the event of an emergency. Currently, those reviews are pending. The applicant was also advised to add a stop sign outside of the facility, and to remove parking bumpers that would likely be damaged during snow removal. In a memo provided to the Planning Board by Maser Engineering, parking at the proposed site was found to be insufficient.

On November 27 and December 11, the Planning Board conducted two public hearings, which were well attended. “The public provided voluminous testimony regarding concerns about the existing available parking for use by village residents and existing commercial properties,” said Planning Board Acting Chairman Michael Cerny.

Contrary to Maser Engineering’s report, representatives for the applicant believe that the project site will be able to absorb the parking needs of the village, particularly during warmer weather months when snow will not be a factor. The applicant is also in the process of consulting with the Village Board regarding possible solutions to the parking issue, including an arrangement for permit parking elsewhere in the village.

Going forward, the Village Planning Board will be tasked with making a State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) determination regarding the Pawling Downtown project. A SEQR determination serves as an assessment of whether or not the proposed project will have a significant adverse environmental impact on the surrounding area.

Members of the Planning Board considered each aspect of the SEQR determination, including the project’s impact on environmental and potential conflict with zoning regulations, as well as the character of the existing community. Thus far, officials said they have found that the project is within the permitted uses for the property, but they noted that the proposal allows for a much larger building and a more intense use than currently exists, which could lead to a large impact on the character of the existing community, especially as it relates to surrounding businesses, parking, and traffic flow.

Members of the Board indicated that they were ready to make a SEQR determination stating that the project has potentially significant environmental impacts to the community. Representatives for the applicant then requested that the Board postpone its final decision until more information could be gathered, including a conversation with Maser Engineering and Village Board Trustees.

The matter will be further addressed at the next Village Planning Board meeting on Tuesday, February 26, at 7:00 p.m. at Village Hall, 9 Memorial Ave.