Milan sets public hearing on highway zoning changes

The Milan town board has scheduled a public hearing for March 18 at 7:30pm on two proposed zoning changes in the highway business district along Route 199 that would accompany the arrival of two proposed gas stations.

The two changes are an increase in the maximum square footage allowed for a convenience store (from 2,500 to 4,000 sq ft) and the addition of drive-thrus as a specially permitted use in that area. The proposed Sunoco station, next to Bayhorse Gazebos, plans a market that exceeds current footage, and the proposed Mobil station, just off the Taconic Parkway, has added a drive-thru to its plans.

At the Feb. 18 board meeting, Rene Schnetzler, a Milan resident of 25 years, cautioned the board against approving the proposed increase in maximum square footage and hoped they would reconsider “in view of long-term impact.” Schnetzler felt the size is too great compared with similar stores in nearby towns, like Red Hook, and termed it “a bit out of proportion for Milan.”

The town also received correspondence from resident Evelyn Barton, who is opposed to a third proposed zoning change in the business district, which would allow parking in front of new stores. Board member Jack Campisi noted that the proposal “has not been sent forward to the planning board for their opinion,” meaning that the board has decided not to act on it at this time.

In other business at the board meeting:

County Legislator Debra Blalock appeared before the board with an update on several county-level issues. Specifically, the board had requested an update on the sales tax revenue cap, a plan—unpopular with towns—from County Executive Marc Molinaro to cap revenue sharing for 2013.

The plan was voted on by the county legislature before Blalock took office. Blalock explained that work on a new formula for 2014 continues with nothing to report to towns yet. Board members pointed out that the cut to their revenue was a serious blow to Milan’s budget, about $22,000. “We’re pretty lean already,” said Councilwoman Bobbi Egan.

The board also discussed a proposed upgrade to the lighting in the Milan highway garage. Supervisor Bill Gallagher indicated that the main concern is safety. But when the board questioned highway superintendent Glenn Butler, it was revealed that there have been no accidents there as a result of poor lighting since the current lighting was installed in 1995.

The project would be paid for by a $1,356 grant from Central Hudson along with $5,042 from the town. Egan asked whether the new lighting would save energy and costs and Butler confirmed that there would be some reduction in electrical use. After further discussion, the board approved the proposal.

During the public comment section at the end of the meeting, Russell Frehling voiced concern over the approval, saying the board should have weighed the decision more carefully.

“The town is talking about how tight money is, and the premise was that it was a safety issue, yet 18 years has gone with never any safety issue,” he said.

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