The final project considered by the Planning Board last night in its meeting that went on for more than three hours was a request for revisions to the site plan for 708 State Street and 65-75 North Seventh Street, a.k.a. "The Depot District." There were three things that constituted the revisions, as explained by Dan Hubbell, who was standing in for the Galvan Foundation's regular attorney Charles Gottlieb: (1) phasing; (2) revisions to site plan; (3) subdivision.
The phasing plan presented divides the project into three parts. The first phase, which at this point is effectively completed, is the restoration of the historic Hudson Upper Depot and its adaptive reuse as a craft brewery. The second phase is the construction of the building on the east side of North Seventh Street, the building originally described as "market rate," and the parking lot at Sixth and Washington streets. The third phase is the construction of the building on the west side of North Seventh Street, the building originally described as "affordable housing."
Hubbell explained that the building meant for households with incomes of 80 to 130 percent of the AMI (area median income) was going first because it was being financed privately rather than with state and federal funds, and it would take less time to get that financing in place.
The revisions to the site plan primarily involve changes to the facade of the building at 708 State Street to create more variety in ground floor storefronts--something that was suggested by the Historic Preservation Commission. Replacing the outdoor swimming pool that was originally proposed for the building with a "nice courtyard" was also mentioned.
The subdivision involves dividing the 708 State Street parcel into two parts: the part at the front, where the historic railroad depot is located, and the part at the back, along North Seventh Street, which is the site of one of the proposed apartment buildings, to have the new address 76 North Seventh Street. The request also involves merging the lots on the west side of the street, which are now three separate parcels, into a single parcel, which would be the site of the second proposed building.
There is some urgency regarding approval of the phasing plan. A certificate of occupancy, necessary for the brewery to open, cannot be issued until the Planning Board approves the phasing plan which would effectively separate that project from the larger project. Last night, the Planning Board bundled the three requests into two: the subdivision, which will require a public hearing; and the site plan revisions. The phasing plan is part of the latter.
Regarding the site plan revisions, Planning Board member Larry Bowne insisted that the revisions needed to be reviewed by a consulting engineer. He recalled how a deck had been constructed on the depot building that was too close to the railroad tracks. He suggested that changes had been made to the brewery plan without review by the Planning Board, or "We approved something we didn't realize we were approving." He also mentioned "drawings out there that show buildings that are not before us," referring to the contextual renderings that have been presented to the Historic Preservation Commission. From a general sense of mistrust about the project, Bowne insisted that the Planning Board hire an engineer to review the amended plans--to do, as Victoria Polidoro, legal counsel to the Planning Board, described it, "a side-by-side review of the approved plan and the revised plan."
Polidoro advised the board that the amended site plan needed to go to the county planning board for a recommendation. Unless this can get on the agenda for that board's April 19 meeting, another month will be added to the review process. The Hudson Planning Board has scheduled public hearings on the subdivision and the amended site plan amendments for May 10.
The Planning Board granted site plan approval for the adaptive reuse of the depot building in December 2019. The changes to the site plan now being proposed apply only to the apartment building.
Dan Kent of the Galvan Foundation asked, not unreasonably, that the phasing plan be separated from the other considerations so that it could be approved independently. He told the Planning Board, "This is holding up the opening of the brewery." Montgomery Bopp, the owner of the brewery, questioned what a review by an engineer had to do with the brewery building, which is now complete, and asserted that meeting minutes show that the deck in question had been reviewed by the Planning Board. He appealed to the Planning Board to approve the phasing plan to allow the brewery to get its certificate of occupancy. He said it took a month to a month and a half to make their beer, and they couldn't start the process until they knew when the certificate of occupancy would be issued lest they end up having to throw out all the beer.
Commenting on the current impasse, Craig Haigh, code enforcement officer, said, "That whole project over there has been changed and altered and changed and altered. It is not the fault of the City of Hudson."
Still, to this observer, it is not clear why the Planning Board could not have approved the phasing plan, which seems straightforward enough, thus enabling the brewery to get its certificate of occupancy and make plans for opening.
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