Two Eric Galloway projects came before the Planning Commission on Wednesday night for preliminary review. The first was the project called "Civic Hudson," proposed for the northwest corner of Columbia and Fourth streets. This project was presented by attorney Mark Greenberg, who indicated that he was representing the Lantern Organization. Greenberg made the point at the outset that he was seeking input from the Planning Commission about what they would be looking for in the site plan review.
What was interesting about the presentation is that Lantern is seeking approval for the building without specifying all of its uses. The third and fourth floors will have 35 residential units--studio apartments with kitchens. The first and second floors--which we heard before were to be for the police department and the city court--are now vaguely defined as having a "community oriented use." When Planning Commission member Claudia DeStefano noted that one of the plans submitted indicated "police department" on the first floor, Greenberg said, "That shouldn't be there."
No one on the Planning Commission asked any questions about who would occupy the 35 studio apartments--17 on one floor, 18 on the other--but when the discussion focused on parking (city code requires one offstreet parking space for each housing unit), Greenberg remarked, "These are tenants that are not necessarily going to have vehicles."
Planning Commission chair Don Tillson said that in his experience nothing of this magnitude had come before the commission and commented, "We're going to have to go a little slowly." He identified as concerns lighting, fire safety, entry and egress, and the problem of doing an environmental quality review when you don't know all the uses of the building. Carl Whitbeck, counsel to the Planning Commission, indicated that the project will require "a good amount of analysis."
Greenberg had gone before the Zoning Board of Appeals earlier in the evening seeking variances for setbacks and for four-stories (city code specifies three stories as maximum height). Whitbeck questioned how the ZBA could go forward with granting variances without a recommendation from the Planning Commission.
Tom Swope, executive director for the Galvan Initiatives Foundation, took over for the presentation of the second Galloway project: Hudson Arcade, a.k.a. the supermarket. He offered clarification and some interesting information. There will be just one apartment on the second floor of the building: 1,600 square feet, to be rented at market rate. He also explained that the parking space along the east side of the building is actually on the adjourning lot and "if we develop the corner lot, that parking may go away."
On the subject of parking, there was no mention of the Historic Preservation Commission's recommendation that parking be accessed from Cherry Alley. Swope indicated that the curb cut, which is now something like 52 feet, would be narrowed to the width required for a single car, thus restoring some parking spaces on the street. He said the plan for access to and egress from the parking area was to have one way in and one way out.
In other business before the Planning Commission, approval was given to an addition to 750 Union Street, of approximately the same size as the existing building. Although a noncontributing structure, 750 Union Street is in a locally designated historic district, but the plan has never gone before the Historic Preservation Commission for a certificate of appropriateness and the need to do so was never mentioned at the Planning Commission meeting. The commission also approved an 80 square foot "bump out" into the courtyard at 748 Warren Street, the new location of Loaf. The Planning Commission also heard Habitat for Humanity's request to make the lots at 240 and 242 Columbia Street of equal size and determined this action constituted subdivision, which required a public hearing.
A joint public hearing of the ZBA and the Planning Commission has been scheduled for July 11. At 6 p.m., public comment on the Lantern Organization's request for variances on setbacks and number of stories for the Civic Hudson Project will be heard; at 6:15 p.m., public comment on Habitat for Humanity's request to make 240 and 242 Columbia Street equal sized lots will be heard.