Red Hook Village passes new zoning ordinances

After months of hard work, the Red Hook village board finally passed Local Law 1, which amends the zoning and inserts the new Pattern Book and Architectural Guidelines into the village’s comprehensive plan.

In a mammoth board meeting Feb. 10, which included a public hearing, the board also repealed a six-month moratorium on new building projects.

“We’ve worked hard on this for some time, and I would like to thank everyone on the board for making this happen,” said Mayor Ed Blundell. “This gets us consistent with the [town’s Centers and Green Spaces] plan.”

The law updates zoning codes that have not been revised since the 1990s, and it expands the use of drive-thru windows beyond just banks.

The only sticking point came during the public hearing when Dan Leary, of Cuddy and Feder, the firm representing CVS, which is looking to buy the IGA site, repeated his concern about a 50-foot setback requirement for drive-thru windows that was in the final version of the plan.

“Our primary, but very serious concern, remains with the … 50 foot minimum setback of the drive-thru window,” he said at the public hearing. “We propose as an alternative, a minimum of 20 feet.”

He then introduced engineer Shannon Rutherford, of VHB Engineering, Surveying and Landscape Architecture, to explain why a 20-foot setback would conform with Dutchess County suggestions on drive-thru locations and their impact on public safety.

Rutherford explained that a 50-foot setback would force the pavement area at the back of the IGA lot to be further extended to accommodate a required six-car queuing lane at the drive-thru window.

“By allowing the 20 feet, you have an opportunity for more of the building to screen the vehicle queue and … an opportunity for more green space,” Rutherford said.

She added that a 50 foot setback doesn’t necessarily guarantee pedestrian safety and only the sight distance, as cars pull onto the street from the drive-thru, impacts pedestrians, so a 20 foot setback would be just as safe.

Blundell questioned the scale of the diagrams indicating that the proposed CVS project is 13,000 square feet. Expectations are that CVS will tear down the IGA building and put up a new one.

Trustee Jay Trapp also questioned the validity of Rutherford’s presentation because it was based on a different lot size.

“I believe one of the weaknesses of your presentation is that your diagram shows a 1-acre lot, but the law stipulates 1 ½ acres,” he said.

Rutherford said the diagrams were just an example and even if they did show a 1 ½ acre lot, the pavement would still have to be extended in the back to accommodate the queuing lanes.

“We’re just looking for flexibility,” she said. ”If the board would consider some flexibility in the language and not have such a hard-and-fast rule … because for any tenant a hard-and-fast rule could be problematic.”

Blundell closed the public hearing and moved to ratify the local law. A negative declaration of environmental impacts was adopted and was followed by a unanimous resolution to amend the village’s comprehensive plan with the addition of the architectural guidelines in the Pattern Book.

Before the zoning law could be passed, the drive-thru setback question triggered a board discussion about whether the setback begins at the right-of-way or the pavement.

Board attorney Victoria Polidoro said it was from the right-of-way, which launched the board into a long technical discussion on the pros and cons of such a large setback.

The board put the matter to rest with a 4-to-1 vote for a 50-foot-setback from the right-of-way. Trustee Zacharzuk voted no because he felt the setback should be from the edge of the pavement, which would add another 10 feet to the setback.

Blundell said, “The 50 feet came about because we’re worrying about pedestrian safety.”

The board then passed the resolution on Local Law 1 unanimously.

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