Friday, August 12, 2022

More About Formula Businesses

This morning, the Historic Preservation Commission approved signs for two new businesses in Hudson that Gossips mentioned a few weeks ago in the post "Preserving Community Character": Savona's Trattoria and Westerlind. The post was about Article XIV of the city code, which prohibits chain stores and formula retail uses in Hudson. The law defines a chain as having four or more other establishments in operation.

Savona's Trattoria, which is having its soft opening today, is the fourth restaurant of its kind, the others being in Red Hook, Kingston, and Poughkeepsie. With the restaurant in Hudson, Savona's reaches the threshold for being a chain, as defined by Hudson's law. Because the Hudson location is the fourth location, there is no problem. That is not the case with Westerlind.

Westerlind, an outdoor apparel and gear boutique, already has stores in Manhattan, Great Barrington, Millertown, and Kingston. The store in Hudson will be its fifth, and, as a consequence, it is in violation of Article XIV of Hudson's city code. Notwithstanding, the HPC approved its signs this morning, and the store is expected to open sometime this fall.

At the Common Council Legal Committee meeting on Wednesday, committee chair Margaret Morris (First Ward) brought up the issue of chain retail stores. Morris suggested that Local Law No. 3 of 2018, the law that created Article XIV, was not well written. "What if," she speculated, "a chain originates in Hudson?" She also questioned how the law was enforced. If a new business is a permitted use in the zoning district where it is located, and there is no change of use, site plan review by the Planning Board is not required. This is obviously what happened in the case of Westerlind.

Council president Tom DePietro, who was in the audience at City Hall for the meeting, observed that there was no way to identify potential violations of the law and cited Applestone, the company that sold organic, grass-fed meat from vending machines, as an example of a retail use that violated Article XIV. That was not an accurate example. 

Correction: DePietro cited Applestone to illustrate the potential problem of a business opening additional locations after establishing a business in Hudson. He asserted that, at the time the Hudson facility opened in 2019, Applestone had plans for "four or five more" locations. Exactly what DePietro said can be heard here, beginning at about 48:05. 
Because a retail establishment filled with vending machines dispensing meat was a change of use at the proposed location, Applestone was subject to site plan review by the Planning Board, which wasn't the case for Savona's or Westerlind. The minutes from the Planning Board meeting for October 11, 2018, at which the project was presented, indicate that it was made clear in the presentation that the Hudson location would be Applestone Meat Company's third location, below the threshold established in the law. This is confirmed by an article that appeared in "'Horn & Hardart' of butchers opens new location in Hudson; Westchester is next." Applestone, which ceased operations last summer, only ever had four locations: Stone Ridge, Accord, Hudson, and Eastchester. When the company went out of business in July 2021, there were three locations: Stone Ridge, Hudson, and Eastchester. 

The law and possible revisions to it will be a topic of discussion at the next Legal Committee meeting. Morris asked the members of the committee--Theo Anthony (Fourth Ward), Art Frick (First Ward), Mohammed Rony (Second Ward), Ryan Wallace (Third Ward)--to "think about the purpose of it" in preparation for the discussion.

1 comment:

  1. Hudson, where code and enforcement don't speak to one another.
    Go to the corner of Green and McKinstry any time of the day, night or early morning and gaze upon the obscene, multi-colored, bright as can be double-sided digital sign that cost the owners of the Green Street Deli fifty dollars, just like every other permitted sign in town, illuminated or not. 50 bucks!
    If it doesn't give you a headache, you haven't looked at it long enough. Imagine living anywhere near it and having any window or windows facing it. It is never turned off. This is a violation of our code for illuminated signs (supposed to be off by 11:00 or when business closes for night). It seems as if our Code Enforcement Office simply doesn't care. Sign the permit, take the fifty dollars, ignore the code.

    Our code needs to be amended to prevent any similar illuminated signs from being allowed in downtown Hudson, no matter the zone. Our code in reference to illuminated signs was certainly written prior to the advent of absurdly bright, constantly moving and changing digital technology aka visual pollution and aesthetic garbage fit for a world gone insane and lacking any sense of community. That sign should never have been granted a permit.
    Bill Huston