Last Thursday, the 8th of June, the Amedore Homes group presented their preliminary ideas for a huge mixed housing and commercial shopping center on land just south of the intersection of 9H and 66. A good number of people turned out to hear it, in spite of last minute notice. Kippy Weigelt, as Town Supervisor, emphasized that this was all very preliminary and will be subject to much more planning. When it was suggested that, given the size of the project and the inexperience of both the Town and Planning Boards, a professional planner should be hired (at the developer’s expense, as is usual), Kippy seemed enthusiastic about taking that action. So far, the plan is for senior housing in one complex with both market value and government subsidized units. Another complex would have market value apartment units with some recreational amenities, while across 9H there would be a large commercial area for big box stores, warehouses, office space and whatever other commercial endeavors could be induced to locate there.
The audience members were invited to give their views, and most all approached this with positive statements about the need for all the elements in the plan. However, people wanted to see a greater mix of the housing with the commercial, and the creation of a walkable community with recreation, day care, elder services, an urgent care center perhaps, more open space, a restaurant, and public transportation to get to the big stores and into Hudson and Greenport. Many found the architecture presented lacking in individuality, and several suggestions were made.
The developers are working with the DOT on traffic concerns, and they will need to co-ordinate with the DEC since there are extensive wetlands as well as a creek on the property.They have not yet decided if they will seek a PILOT. The affordable housing will depend on federal HUD money.
The Town, in the past, required a full SEQRA review on a much smaller project: the Stewardship development. It seems to me that a project of this size definitely calls for scoping and a DEIS. The amount of time all the preparation will take to get us to a fully realized preliminary plan would be well spent drafting a Planned Unit Development law to amend our current code. Such an amendment will give us a valuable planning tool, and should be tailored to the present and perceived future needs of Claverack. Since a PUD gives the approval/disapproval power to the Town Board, consultation with the Planning Board should be required early on, and items such as open space requirements, landscaping, lighting, and prohibition of trademark architecture need to be reflective of our current zoning and the Comprehensive Plan.