Sunday, March 12, 2017

Other Matters Before the Planning Board

Although the project of greatest interest at the Planning Board meeting on Thursday was the Colarusso haul road, the Planning Board did a lot of other business before getting to that project. They approved four projects and heard a presentation about a new one.

Photo: Julie Metz
The first of the projects approved by the Planning Board was the redevelopment of 124 North Second Street, now the location of COARC Manufacturing, into a site for the production of sauerkraut, kimchi, and other lacto-fermented vegetables. The project is being undertaken by Whitethorne LLC, a for-profit subsidiary of Hawthorne Valley Association. The benefits of the project include fewer trucks coming and going from the site, upwards of twelve new jobs for local people, and the return of the property to the tax rolls. For those concerned about odors emanating from the sauerkraut plant, the plan is to eliminate them with an air filtration system.

The next project to get approval from the Planning Board was 34 Allen Street, the former Allen Street School. The building is to become a private art gallery, studio spaces, and one short-term residential unit for an artist-in-residence program. The plans for the restoration were approved by the Historic Preservation Commission in January, and because state and federal preservation tax credits are being used in funding the project, all the work being done adheres strictly to the Secretary of the Interior's Standards.

The proposal to build four new townhouses on Hudson Avenue was also approved, ending an approval process that took more than a year and required an amendment to zoning code. Hudson Avenue is not included in the Union-Allen-South Front Street Historic District, so the HPC was not part of the review process. Speaking of the compatibility of the new construction with its context, developer Walter Chatham said, "It will not only blend in but disappear amidst all the 19th-century buildings around it." Unfortunately for those who thought these houses might ease the shortage of affordable housing in Hudson, Chatham explained that he intends to sell the three-bedroom houses when they are completed and estimated the price would be $600,000, with this proviso, "We will sell then for as little as we can based on what we can build them for."

The fourth project to be approved was the conversion of 886 Columbia Street, the early 20th-century house once known as the Dinehart mansion, into six medical office suites. The project involves constructing an elevator tower at the back of the building, expanding the parking lot, and changing the traffic pattern for entering and exiting the parking lot. It was revealed on Thursday that the plans also include "re-glazing the brick--going from mustard yellow to blue-gray. This alteration is something that the Historic Preservation Commission might take issue with, but 886 Columbia Street is neither individually designated nor part of a local historic district, so the HPC has no power to protect it.

The new project that came before the Planning Board on Thursday is the plan to build out the basement space at the former Hudson Armory. Of the space, which will be entered from Short Street, 1,700 square feet will be used by the COARC daycare program (Columbia Memorial Hospital recently acquired the building on Prospect Avenue that was the site of COARC Starting Place) and 1,500 square feet will be used for professional office space.



As is often the case with the Planning Board, the question of parking arose. The new use, which according to code enforcement officer Criag Haigh is a conditional permitted use subject to Planning Board approval, will require ten parking spaces. Jason O'Toole, who was presenting the project for the Galvan Foundation, which owns the building, told the board, "There is no offstreet parking we can offer," and made reference to "the municipal parking lot on Columbia Street." Presumably he was referring to the parking lot between Fifth and Sixth streets, which is two and a half blocks from the Short Street side of the armory building. He also made reference to a house across the street--59 Short Street--owned by Galvan, which he suggested might be demolished to create offstreet parking.

The area immediately behind the armory building might have been used for parking had it not been included in the site's elaborate landscaping plan, and, as O'Toole pointed out, the forty-six children who will be coming to the site for daycare need an outside play area.

Planning Board chair Tom DePietro requested a parking plan from the applicant and then scheduled a public hearing for Thursday, April 13, at 6:30 p.m.
COPYRIGHT 2017 CAROLE OSTERINK

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