RH Village ZBA denies commercial building zoning request

The Red Hook Village Zoning Board of Appeals has turned down a request from Rondack Construction for a zoning interpretation that would allow them to develop a 1.2 acre property across from the Red Hook Firehouse.

Rondack Construction, of Glen Pond Drive in Red Hook, planned to build an 8,000 square-foot building with offices for their contracting business, second-floor apartments and a large garage area to store construction supplies and construction equipment when not in use on their job sites.

The building permit for the project had been rejected by Zoning Enforcement Officer Sam Harkins as not allowed under the zoning law.

The ZEO, upholding Harkin’s ruling, decided unanimously April 26 that such a use is not allowed in the Neighborhood Mixed Use (NMU) district, a district that includes the Laura Lane senior housing complex and other parts of South Broadway.

Nick DiGugno, one of the owners of the commercial building contract company, had asked the board for an interpretation that would place such a facility in the category of professional office or personal service business.

A zoning interpretation is a change to how the law is to be read now and in the future and can have broad implications. It differs from a zoning variance, which is a special case exemption granted to a specific lot.

Following an opening statement by Rhinebeck realtor Ralph Cautela, representing Rondack Construction in the purchase of the property from St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, ZBA chair George Beekman set the ground rules for an interpretation.
“We can look at what is allowed in that zone… we have to look at what’s [in the law] and see if [the project] works or it doesn’t,” Beekman said.

Harkins based his decision on conversations with the village attorney and the fact that similar business uses are already described in another section of the zoning code, specifically the Highway Business Zone.

“After talking to the village attorney, his one question was, ‘Is he going to store equipment there?’ And his comment was, ‘If he’s storing equipment there, it is not allowed,’ ” Harkins told the board. “He’s the one who brought up the section in the highway business [zone] that has been addressed in the village zoning law and was approved for highway business.”

Harkins reminded the board that approving an interpretation would allow such businesses anywhere in the NMU zone, not just on this one property.

“[Contractor storage] could have also been entered in here when [the board] designed the zone as an option at that point also… but [NMU] is…meant for individuals, people to walk in and buy things,” Beekman said.

After all four ZBA members in attendance voted down the application, the board suggested that Rondack Construction apply for a use variance for the lot, which, if approved, would allow the project to proceed without making a change to the entire NMU zone.

Rondack Construction developed the Glen Pond site and also constructed the Rhinebeck Performing Arts Center on Route 308.

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