By Alberto Gilman
Biagini Woods, a proposed 328 unit, 17 building multi-family development to be built adjacent to Cornwall High School in the Town of New Windsor received comments from the public addressing traffic concerns, impacts to the surrounding wetlands and wooded areas and concerns to the quality of life during a public scoping session. The public scoping session, hosted by the Cornwall Planning Board, was held at Cornwall High School on Monday, March 6. More than 100 residents from the surrounding area were in attendance.
The meeting began with an email read into the record by Planning Board Attorney Dominic Cordisco sent on behalf of the developer Paul Biagini.
“I received a request from the applicant by email regarding the need for impartiality by the planning board members. The following message was emailed to me by Paul Biagini. We, the applicant, would like any members of the planning board to recuse themselves if they will have difficulty being impartial when it comes to making decisions on the Biagini Woods application,” said Cordisco. “ I don’t know any of the planning board members or their backgrounds but I trust that you will make sure that there are no members on the board who have a conflict of interest. Any recusal should take place prior to the public scoping session on March 6.”
One board member did state to the public that he was an educator within the district and that he was impartial and had and would not prejudge the application. Cordisco continued and clarified the purpose of the scoping session was to collect public comments and feedback on the proposed impacts due to the proposed project before them. The planning board nor the applicant was required to answer any questions asked during the comment period but answers would be provided later on in the planning board’s review. A second public hearing would be set once the environmental studies have been prepared and determined adequate. A special permit would also need to be approved by the planning board.
“The scope is the outline and established studies that have to be prepared by the applicant so that the planning board can consider the application. The planning board must review every application that comes before it. This is true no matter the size, scope or level of public interest in any project,” said Cordisco.
The proposed project is associated with developer Paul Biagini, who was represented by the engineering firm Engineering and Surveying Properties PC. Ross Winglovitz of Engineering and Surveying Properties provided a brief overview and description of the property and other related items pertaining to the scoping session. “This property was the remaining lands that was left over when the school subdivided this property during 2002,” said Winglovitz. “The [planning] board has worked out a scope that’s about 19 pages currently addressing several different areas of concern that they’ve had with the project and that are required to be studied.”
The project, which has been before the board since Fall 2022, had already received a positive declaration from the Cornwall Planning Board. Proposed access to public sewer through the Town of New Windsor’s Wastewater Treatment Plant would be possible through a newly created Cornwall Sewer District. New Windsor had already clarified they would not grant sewer access to this project. Proposed project access via Dragon Drive, which was identified as a private road, would need to change and be recognized as a public road. An emergency access road was also proposed along a former rail line which would run adjacent to property owners. The proposed 17 buildings would be divided into three 16 unit buildings and 14 20 unit buildings. “There’s 78 one bedrooms, 168 two bedrooms and 82 three bedrooms currently proposed,” said Winglovitz.
Traffic concerns addressed the impacts to the Dragon Drive/Mt. Airy Road/Route 94, the Jackson Avenue/Route 94 intersection and the larger Five Corners intersection in New Windsor.
Senator James Skoufis [D-Cornwall] provided comments on the proposed project, criticizing the developer, asking if new educational facilities or public amenities were proposed and further addressing the need for senior housing for both Cornwall and New Windsor senior residents. “I have never heard of an email like that sent to a municipal board by an applicant. That was noxious. That was rude. It was uncalled for,” said Skoufis. “What are you [the applicant] going to do to improve the community that you are looking to impact?”
Cornwall Supervisor Joshua Wojehowski also shared his thoughts on the project. “We have a strong sense of preservation in Cornwall. This is a really long process, that’s going to take a while,” said Wojehowski. “I really want the planning board to have all the information that they need to do their job.”
New Windsor Town Attorney David Zagon, who appeared on behalf of the New Windsor Town Board, also provided a statement in regards to the sewer access. A further easement that was mentioned that would grant flow access rights to the New Windsor Sewer Treatment was further clarified as untrue.
“I wrote your board a letter back in either November or December, when we [New Windsor] received the draft Environmental Impact Statement,” said Zagon. “The Town of New Windsor has no intention of accepting any of their [Biagini Woods] flow.”
“Potentially 1000 cars looking at the two bedrooms and three bedrooms is going to make our homes that are right on 94 almost impossible to exit,” said resident Manuela Anaya.
Comments from the public were addressed for over an hour in the high school auditorium. According to Cordisco, public comments will be taken until March 16 via email and can be emailed to email@example.com.