Home > Wallkill Valley Times > Town Board balks at back-out clause

Town Board balks at back-out clause

May 30th, 2012

An applicant seeking a zone change from B (Business) to R-2 (Residential) may be asking the Newburgh Town Board for more than it can grant – and the Town’s reluctance to grant the developer a very unique fallback position may end up killing the proposal.

Stanley Schutzman, an attorney representing the applicant 84 Realty in a request to rezone land at Patton Road and South Plank Road from B to R-2 explained that his client has made a number of concessions in seeking the zone change. The biggest concession, he said, has been in agreeing to build single-family homes – something his neighbors feel will best protect their property values.

There appear to be no problems granting the R-2 zoning, but the applicant wants to be able to revert to his old B zoning if it turns out he can’t get the density of homes he believes he needs to make the project viable.

And therein lies the rub.

Schutzman told the Town Board that his client wants to be able to revert to the old zoning if after two years there is no completion of the plan. The builder needs to be able to build 15 homes, he said, but Town engineer Jim Osborne has written a report estimating that because of wetlands and land slopes, the builder might only be able to build 13.

Not acceptable, the builder said. If that’s the case, he wants to go back to B zoning.

“We’ve never, ever gone back to an earlier zoning,” said Supervisor Wayne Booth.

“We live here with all these people [the neighbors] all the time,” said Councilman George Woolsey Sr.

“I can’t support the zoning change unless the neighbors are allowed to comment on any change to a lesser zoning,” said Councilwoman Betty Greene. “Their home is the biggest single investment they’ll ever make,” she said.

Attorney Schutzman pointed out that the 84 Realty plan has been the subject of two public hearings. That should suffice, he suggested.

The possibility of reverting to the old zoning was never discussed, the Town Board pointed out. The existing zoning would allow 81 units, if a higher density were used.

“The people went home from that hearing with a clear understanding that these would be single-family homes,” Greene insisted.

Schutzman tried, but failed, to convince the board to include a reverter clause in the zone change. In the end, the Town Board agreed to hold a public meeting to discuss the applicant’s wishes to have the reverter clause if a sufficient number of single-family homes couldn’t be built on the parcel.

A date has not been set for that meeting, which will not be a third “public hearing,” but neighbors will be notified in ample time so that they may attend and voice their opinions.

In other actions on May 16, the board:
• Allowed a property owner three years to connect to the Town sewer system in the Eaton Sewer Outside User agreement;
• Agreed to set a public hearing on a request by a property owner who had been denied a variance by the ZBA to configure their lot to build a house in a B zone that is attached to an R-2 parcel. The throat of the lot will stay in a B zone, but the house will be located on the R-2 lot;

In business conducted at the May 21 meeting, the board:
• Adopted a resolution supporting the New York Statewide Mass Transportation Operating Assistance Program;
• Approved a $9,500 budget transfer from a senior citizen account to a facility maintenance account;
• Approved a contract to seal coat and re-stripe the Chadwick Lake parking lot;
• Approved the re-hiring of a number of summer seasonal workers and the hiring of three new employees if needed;
• Approved the expenditure of $6,878.41 for ammunition for the Police Department. The expenditure is part of the department’s budget;
• Delayed approval of a performance security for Lands of Hammond in the amount of $886,050 with a $33,002 inspection fee and a $2,000 landscape fee. The work is for construction of a road leading to 13 building lots. The delay was to answer questions about requiring fences around ponds on the property;
• Approved a series of summer material bid awards from eight different contractors;
• Approved rates for tree-cutting by Rockland Tree Co.

The board expressed their regrets to the family of Ruth Eaton, who passed away May 17. Eaton was a long-time member of the Town Zoning Board of Appeals.

By ALLAN GAUL
agaul@tcnewspapers.com

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