Wine Village project returns to Highland
For months, representatives of the Hudson Valley Wine Village project have compiled additional data and refined the design of a project they have proposed for a 432-acre parcel at the end of Blue Point Road on the south side of Highland.
At the end of September they appeared before members of the Town, Zoning and Planning boards to speak on the current status of the project.
Supervisor Paul Hansut called the proposed project “very exciting for the Town of Lloyd moving forward as far as economic development.”
The developer will be seeking zoning changes for the property from the Town Board but the wording is presently being developed.
Andrew Maxon, executive director of the project, started by thanking the members of the Lloyd boards.
“It’s been a wonderful experience as we’ve gone the last 2 1/2 years,” he said. “All you saw in the beginning is where we were at, which was a conference center and 1,200 units of housing. We heard the town. We heard the people. It was too dense, too much housing and we listened.” He said they intend to fully cooperate with the town, the school board and the community on issues surrounding the project.
Maxon said it is important to note that their primary aim is to create jobs first, not only in the light industrial phase but also at the hotel/conference center and at the Wine Village. He said success in the light industrial portion will later provide a market for the proposed housing.
Architect Steven Tinkelman said recent design revisions have made for a “balanced, interesting and more sensitive” project than what existed just several months ago. He said his client, Herb Feinberg, has been willing to make changes and adjustments to the project that ultimately will meet the needs of the community.
Tinkelman said they continue to consult with professionals about the project, which he characterized as a work in progress. He highlighted several notable aspects of their proposal: the parcel runs from Route 9W to the Hudson River and has 1.5 miles of undisturbed river frontage; construction will be done in phases over a 20-year period; access to the property will be by a newly constructed horseshoe-shaped roadway, which will have a jogging/bicycle path running alongside of it; a 60,000-square-foot conference center with a 100-room hotel just southeast of the old winery buildings – many of which will be readapted in a Tuscan Village setting of approximately 50,000 square feet of office, retail and restaurant space.
Tinkelman said they are proposing 450,000 square feet of light industrial space on the southwestern portion of the property and near Rt. 9W for easy access.
Tinkelman said there will be between 700 to 800 of mostly multi-family housing units on the site, designed in “pod” areas with different levels and types and will have screening to provide separation and privacy. He said their new housing calculation is a reduction from the original 1,200 proposed and is also less than the 900 figure in the last configuration.
Tinkelman said the project will develop 173 acres of the overall parcel and leave 259 acres green. He stressed they will not disturb the bluff facing the Hudson River and will leave undeveloped 100-foot buffers in this area as well as at the northern and southern borders of the property. He added that Blue Point, a scenic perch on the southern part of the property, will remain untouched allowing public access to panoramic views of the Hudson River. The attorney for the project, Ken Stenger, called this a major concession by the owner – “Its importance cannot be understated and he made this a priority.”
Tinkelman said he hopes to tie all of this together via walking trails with the Franny Reese State Park, just to the north. He said very little of the entire project will be visible from Route 9W except approximately 50,000 square feet of retail/commercial space off Sam Williams Road. Maxson added that this part of the project was originally slated for housing but was changed for commercial usage to align with the town’s zoning intentions for the entire Route 9W corridor.
Tinkelman said some traffic improvements will be made to the Rt. 9W area near the project but the Department of Transportation projects that the roadway will be able to handle the vehicle estimates generated by the development.
The project will use public water from the town but sewage will be handled by an on-site modular based wastewater treatment system. Discussions are ongoing on who will pay for the pipe infrastructure along Route 9W for the water.
Tinkelman said no significant caches of archeological materials were found on the site and through the use of radar, no body appears to be buried in the alleged revolutionary grave on the property. He said there are only three small vernal pools and they will stay 100 feet back from them.
Tinkelman said they are presenting their project to the town in clear and understandable portions, rather than in a dense compilation containing thousands of pages. He said their consultants have kept in mind the sensitive nature of the environment of the property to ensure that “what we’re doing is thoughtful and appropriate based upon what we’ve learned about the site.”
“We think we have a more holistic approach to a sound economic development that benefits the community in the area in a stronger way and is also defensible to the developer who will have enormous upfront costs to make this project work,” he said.
Tinkelman said there are ongoing traffic, noise and environmental studies as well as plans for community gardens, an archeology and wine industry museum and additional open spaces on the site. He is hoping to present the town with an even more complete plan by Thanksgiving.
Planning Board Chairman Scott Sasso offered a few comments.
“I definitely would like to thank you guys for coming and giving us a great presentation and an idea of what is going to be a fantastic project,” with Supervisor Hansut complimenting the representatives for listening to the people and making significant adjustments to the project along the way.
“I think it’s a great plan, myself,” he said. “I think as a community we’re going to pull this together.”
By MARK REYNOLDS