The storage of commercial vehicles on residential lots took center stage at a Hyde Park Town Board public hearing July 14, attended by a handful of concerned residents.
At issue was an amendment to the town code, proposed Local Law 2, that would define what is considered a “residential lot,” for a specific section dealing with commercial vehicles, town attorney Warren Replansky explained. The intent is to clarify the existing code.
The proposed definition of a “residential lot” would say: “Any lot improved by a single family, two-family, or multi-family residence and occupied for residential purposes, or any lot, whether vacant or improved, within the Neighborhood District.” The existing code states that no commercial motor vehicles can be stored on a residential lot except for one vehicle that is registered to the lot’s owner and it does not affect lots that have site plan approval for storage of commercial vehicles.
Ward 1 Councilperson Emily Svenson noted at the meeting that Local Law 2 would be limited to the Neighborhood District because it has the largest amount of residential properties. Many areas of the town are termed Neighborhood Districts: mixed-use areas that are primarily residential.
Once the public hearing was opened, Jeannette Martino of 13 Franklin Road, suggested that the entire law regarding commercial vehicles should be revised, because it does not define what a commercial vehicle is and does not distinguish between parking vehicles and storing them.
Other comments, however, quickly turned the focus on the closed Shell gas station on the corner of Greentree Drive and Route 9G.
Pat Sheehan of 53 Greentree Drive, said, “There are houses with unkempt yards who have multiple unregistered cars amassed in driveways and parked in lawns, and a lot of other unsightly things that are kind of an embarrassment to those of us who keep our houses neat and tidy.”
Sheehan singled out the old gas station, saying that “unsightly equipment” is parked on the property, and that it has also become a site for dumping, which she believes could prevent her and her husband from selling their nearby property if they ever want to do so.
Allison Hildwein of 54 Greentree Drive. said she believes some of the vehicles parked on the gas station property are parked there illegally. Town Supervisor Aileen Rohr confirmed that at least one vehicle is being stored there by someone who is not the owner.
Larry Keller of 1 Jonathan Drive, asked if the gas station property owner forfeited the rights to his property by not paying his taxes. Rohr replied that while the owner has not paid his taxes for the past two decades, the county has paid them and the owner has not lost his property. However, she added that she met with the State Comptroller to discuss how to remediate the issue.
The proposed amendment was then discussed at the July 16 town planning board meeting.
Board member Chan Murphey suggested that the solution the Town Board is aiming for is ill-suited to the old Shell Station property, because he believed the property is considered commercial.
But chairman Michael Dupree said that the gas station is considered a residential lot because it is in a Neighborhood District.
He then suggested that there should be a rezoning of the area near the old gas station to create a Neighborhood Business District, which is designed to promote small-scale commercial enterprises near residential neighborhoods. The board agreed to send a letter to the town board suggesting that.
The issue will be discussed July 30 at 7pm at a joint public meeting of the Town Board and Planning Board. The public hearing will also continue at the next town board meeting Aug. 11.