Walden board rejects residential development
A proposed 114-unit apartment complex on Edmunds Lane was shot down at a recent meeting of the Walden Village Board when board members voted not to consider a necessary zoning change.
The property, which neighbors a number of residences, a Buddhist temple and the Big Apple Circus, is located in an Office Light Industrial (OLI) zone, which means that multi-family units are not permitted. In order to proceed with his project, Gerald Jacobowitz needed a zoning change to Residential Multiple (RM1).
“This is totally out of character for our neighborhood,” said village resident Kevin Malone, adding that the traffic and air and noise pollution would adversely affect the quality of life for the current residents.
Other residents also spoke in opposition, stating that the village had no need for that many apartments and that the board had just finished an exhaustive review of the comprehensive plan and it stated the only zoning change recommended would be to that of the surrounding parcels — single family residential. They asserted that the board would be inconsistent with the plan they passed just two months ago if they considered the requested zoning change.
Jacobowitz urged the board to refer the project to the Planning Board, explaining that the resulting report from the Planning Board would then be used by the board to decide if they wanted to hold a public hearing.
“All you’re doing now is referring for more information,” said Jacobowitz.
Village attorney Jay Myrow disagreed, advising the board that if they felt inclined to consider changing the zoning they could refer the project to the Planning Board, but were not obligated to do so. He also noted that the board had just adopted a comprehensive plan which stated the only zoning change contemplated would be to single-family residential and they had a responsibility to apply that plan.
The mayor urged the board to refer the project to the Planning Board, in the interest of obtaining more information for their review.
“I believe one should be able to make their case,” said Mayor Brian Maher.
“I think it’s a waste of the Planning Board’s time. The neighbors where this would be have voiced their opinions,” said Deputy Mayor Sue Rumbold.
Rumbold noted that 204 townhouse units are already going to affect the area soon and she did not feel the project belonged in that area.
Trustee Hoffman agreed, saying he felt the project was “detrimental to the community character of that neighborhood.”
“I’m concerned with putting apartments there too,” said Trustee Gerald Mishk. “Single family homes would be the most I’d agree with.”
Trustee Willie Carley was the board’s swing vote, which was 4-2 against the possibility of the zoning change and a referral to the Planning Board.
Another close vote at the meeting was village services for the proposed Dollar General, which is to be located on the village’s border on Route 52.
The owners of the proposed store have requested a connection to village water. While the plans currently include a new well on the site, the owners would prefer to receive municipal water. If approved, the store would be an out of district user and charged at twice the rate.
Village Manager John Revella noted that if they didn’t move forward, the new well would be a “potential contamination source of the aquifer” which would affect wells 4, 5 and 6.
“My concern is protection of the water system,” said Hoffman.
Hoffman suggested that a stipulation of any agreement for connection to the village water should state that no wells are allowed to be drilled on the property.
Rumbold said she was not in favor of providing village water, explaining that while they were in a great situation now with water that “could change at any moment.” She also expressed concern that they were setting a precedent for selling the village’s resources.
The board voted 4-2 in favor of providing the parcel with village water.
The Village Board also voted to replace their current law firm with Dickover, Donnelly, Donovan & Biagi, LLP, out of Goshen. Their expertise in municipal law was reportedly a deciding factor. The move replaces Blustein, Shapiro, Rich & Barone, LLP, who served the village for one year after replacing long-time attorney Kevin Dowd.
The dedication of Midge Norman Park has been set for 1 p.m. Saturday, May 18.
By RACHEL COLEMAN