Plans for the Dollar General store proposed for Pine Bush have been sent back to the applicant by the Crawford Planning Board with a simple question: “Can we get the Walden model?”
Over the past few months the planning boards in the towns of Montgomery and Crawford have been reviewing plans for two new Dollar General stores, one to be located on Route 52 next to Amthor’s just outside Walden, and the second less than 8 miles away on the same highway in Pine Bush.
At their last meeting, the Crawford Planning Board had directed their attorney to prepare a resolution in anticipation of the project’s approval at their next meeting. In the meantime however, Montgomery approved a new design for the store proposed near Walden.
Members of the Crawford Planning Board were impressed by the Walden design, so much so that they decided not to approve the project before them and sent the engineers back to their clients with a request to make the store look like Walden’s.
Crawford Planning Board Chairperson Linda Zwart stated she had not been pleased with the aesthetics of the building from the beginning, calling it “very boxy.”
“I think there are a few things here that make the one in Walden more desirable,” said Zwart, noting that the new design did not entail a great many changes, but that the differences made it “more village-friendly.”
“I do find this one more attractive,” said Planning Board member Henry DeVries, referring to the Walden design.
Planning Board member L. Joseph Gingras agreed, stating that the design before them was “flat” while the Walden design was “far better, more quaint [and] a better village store.”
Zwart noted that the design approved in the neighboring town broke up the plain box shape by adding details.
Planning Board attorney Ben Gailey noted the Walden design has been compared to the design of Walden’s Hannaford store that is expected to break ground in the near future and pointed out that Pine Bush already has a Hannaford store. He suggested that following suit would give a consistency to the aesthetics of buildings in the hamlet.
Engineer John Tarolli, representing the applicant, East End Realty, stated that it might not be possible to offer that design to Pine Bush as the cost might be higher than the applicant is ready to invest.
Zwart said she expected there would be a cost to make the changes, but doubted they were enough to “make or break” the project. DeVries said he thought the company must be doing all right and could afford the changes since they were building so many stores in the area.
Tarolli further noted that he thought there was a possibility the project might not happen at all if it wasn’t approved as is at the meeting last week as redesigning the building and coming back would create a delay that could put the project past an October deadline set by Dollar General for the store to be owner occupied. Tarolli stated the company imposes penalties on the owners of the businesses when they go past deadline.
“I do think it’s worth the two weeks to ask the question,” said Zwart, adding that the board was there to represent the public. “That looks to me like something that should be in center hamlet rather than a box.”
Zwart also noted that they received a response from the Department of Transportation explaining that they request roads be aligned where practical. The town’s planner has asked that the access to the proposed store be aligned with Depot Street Extension, so the applicant’s proposed access at that intersection will remain.
The project is scheduled to return before the board at their next meeting on June 26.
In other business, the Planning Board approved the application of Nicholle Pozzolini to convert the old town hall into a deli/restaurant. Members of the board and audience wished her good luck, noting that it was “about time” the hamlet had a good deli.
A public hearing was held on the proposed conversion of 65 Main St. into an arts center, possibly for use by the Pine Bush Arts Council. A glass partition would separate a 500-square-foot gallery from a 900-square-foot educational center and they would share a bathroom. The project was approved, pending formalization at their next meeting. If the council does not move into the space, the owner anticipates allowing other non-profit groups the use of the space.
In other business, the board set a public hearing for July 10 for East Coast Orchids, which grows orchids and sells them wholesale. The company is looking to build a small addition to their greenhouse on Route 17K.
The board also set the public hearing for Middletown Community Health Center, of 99 Cameron Street, for the same date. The center will also be the subject of a public hearing before the ZBA on July 3. The center had previously gained approvals for their proposal to upgrade the facility back in 2008, however did not act on them before they expired.
They have now obtained the needed federal grants for the elevator and stairs portion of the project and will pay for the remaining expansion themselves. In order to use the grant, they need to split the project into two phases and have their plans approved.
By RACHEL COLEMAN