Last week the Lloyd Town Board voted 3-2 to grant a waiver from a building moratorium to developer Mark Sanderson that will allow him to bring his proposed Assisted Living facility before the Planning Board for site plan review. The yes votes were Councilpersons Fred Pizzuto, Claire Winslow and Lenny Auchmoody and the no votes were Councilmen Joe Mazzetti and Mike Guerriero.
Town Land Use Attorney Rob Stout acknowledged the difficulty for the public to participate at public hearings because of the pandemic. To assist in public outreach, Stout noted that the Town has posted notices of the public hearing in the newspaper, on Facebook, on the local public access channel, on the town’s website as well as soliciting input in writing. He said the town received a petition from 85 residents requesting that the public hearings remain open until the Lloyd town government reopens.
“The signatories to that petition do not want the matter to move forward to the Planning Board until residents are allowed to attend the Town Board public hearings in person. They cite the lack of adequate internet connection, the inability to log on to meetings and they want to be able to attend in person,” he said.
Residents of the neighboring Highland Hills community have been alarmed about the potential increase in traffic in the Route 9W corridor. The public has repeatedly pointed out that making a left hand turn north onto Route 9W from Mayer Drive is hazardous and having a traffic light at the intersection is of paramount importance. Stout noted that residents are concerned that traffic will come through the Highland Hills neighborhood in order to get to the light on Chapel Hill Road in the hope of making their commute easier and safer.
Attorney Stout said Sanderson is proposing a reduced scope of his original project for only the Assisted Living facility, “which is a permitted use under the existing code and also under the proposed changes that are being contemplated to the zoning code. That project would have to go to the Planning Board in the form of an ammended application to receive site plan review, receive a Special Use Permit review and to receive a full SEQRA [State Environmental Quality Review Act] review.” He pointed out that moving this to the Planning Board is not granting an approval to build the project but is just the first step before that board.
Project attorney John Furst said, “We’re just asking the Town Board and the residents to support the process, not necessarily the project at this point, and as is noted we’ll go through all of the environmental and design and all other site plan special use requirements for the Planning Board.”
Furst said the building will be two stories with 135 beds and will have a 52,000 sq/ft footprint. He expects there will be 105 employees, covering 3 shifts. The cost for a resident to be in the facility will range from $4,200 to $4,800 per month for the adult home aspect and approximately $6,000/mo to be in the memory care section. He said the prices are based on the medium income in Lloyd, which is $60,000, and noted that the income figure is on a per household basis and is not on a per person calculation.
Furst stressed that the facility is not a low income Housing and Urban Development project.
“We are getting a loan from HUD but there are no strings attached and there’s no low income requirement. We’re getting a loan for health care purposes, which is another arm of HUD so the price is based on what the income is in the area and what our budget is,” he said. “We are not required to set aside any of the bedrooms for any low income housing.”
Furst addressed the developer’s intentions for the rest of the property, saying that it is dependent on what zoning amendments the town later adopts. He said Sanderson would push to have a traffic light installed at Mayer Drive and would pay for the widening of Route 9W.
Furst described the project as a, “great opportunity for the Town of Lloyd and I don’t see how you could let this slip away. There is no harm in letting us move forward to the Planning Board for the site plan and environmental review.”
Resident Amanda Wilcox favors the project, saying, “I heard that the Villages would be much more affordable, more than half of what others would charge for around the clock care.”
Former Supervisor Paul Hansut believes this project is needed in the community as the town’s population is aging.
“It sounds like they have a good project they are bringing to the town that I think is going to be beneficial and I would encourage the Town Board to unanimously support moving it forward to the Planning Board,” he said.
Cassandra Seifert believes this project should be allowed to move to the Planning Board stage.
“If my parents ever needed something like this I think it would be highly beneficial to have them close to me as I do not plan to leave,” she said.
The Town Board closed the Public Hearing even though 85 town residents signed a petition urging them to keep it open until they could attend a board meeting in person. Councilwoman Claire Winslow introduced a resolution to approve the waiver for the Assisted Living facility, adding several conditions to the project: that a new proposal must include a traffic light at Mayer Drive and Route 9W and that Route 9W will be widened. Winslow stated that a cul-de-sac to the project that feeds into Mayer Drive will only be used for emergency access and that a public information meeting will be scheduled to reintroduce the scaled back project to the public.
Before the vote Councilman Mike Guerriero addressed Furst, pointing out that it is unclear whether a traffic light and a turning lane are part of this project, “You’re saying one thing and we’re not being consistent and I know in that area the big problem is the traffic.”
Guerriero said he spoke to Building Department Director Dave Barton who said these items would not be included because of a fiscal shortfall in the county due to the current situation, “and I’m not for it, I’m a no.” Attorney Furst did not address Guerriero’s concerns.
Councilman Joe Mazzetti said proposing items to be included in a project is different from having an approved letter for the light and the road widening, “they are two different things.” He also questioned why the informational meeting has not been held prior to granting the project a waiver.
Mazzetti said he and two other board members [Winslow and Pizzuto] made campaign promises, “that we would listen to the public and give them an opportunity to be heard. I don’t think it’s fair, I don’t think it’s just to not let them come to the meeting.” He pointed out that as the Phase III reopening starts, the state may begin to allow people to attend Town Board meetings in person, which residents have been asking for.
Mazzetti said the town has spent nearly $40,000 on the moratorium and the Ulster County Planning Board will soon be issuing their comments and recommendations to the town on this project.
“I believe it’s haphazardly to move forward and it’s unjust to the taxpayers without letting them come to a public meeting,” he said.
The Town Board granted the waiver, resulting in the 3-2 vote. Councilman Lenny Auchmoody was the swing yes vote. He said he was putting his faith in the Building Department and in the Planning Board to make sure that everything is done properly.
Attorney Furst had the last word.
“Thank you everyone. We look forward to presenting before the Planning Board and the public. I really appreciate the opportunity just to move forward and to get into the details of this really exciting project,” he said.