Oct 21, 2018 | Save Craryville submits corrections to Oct 4 Meeting Minutes

October 21, 2018

Jamie Carano, Director

Save Craryville LLC

187 Taconic Creek Road Hillsdale, NY 12529

Attn: Lisa DeConti, Copake Planning Board Secretary Attn: Robert Haight, Copake Planning Board Chairman Attn: Members of the Copake Planning Board

Re: PUBLIC HEARING Minutes - GRJH, Inc. Gas Station-Convenience Store Proposal - 10 Pages

Dear Mrs. DeConti and Members of the Planning Board,

On October 17, 2018, Save Craryville volunteers downloaded the attached October 4, 2018 Public Hearing Minutes at the following web address: http://townofcopake.org/site/wp-content/uploads/ 2013/09/October-4-2018-CPB-Minutes.pdf .

As you may know, we have audio-video recorded the entire October 4, 2018 Public Hearing for the public record. Below we are submitting verbatim transcriptions for the existing Minutes. We ask that these corrections and additions are added to Copake Planning Board digital minutes as soon as possible to allow the public ample time to review prior to the next November 1 Public Hearing. Following the November 1, 2018 Public Hearing, we will attempt to submit audio-video and written transcriptions to you within 1 week.

Save Craryville would also like to request digital versions of the emails and physical letters submitted for the public record leading up to the October 4, 2018 Public Hearing. Emails are digital files and should be submitted to SaveCraryville@gmail.com as digital files.

The below documents are attached for your reference:

  1. Existing Copake Planning Board October 4, 2018 Meeting Minutes - Downloaded from

    TownofCopake.org on October 17, 2018

  2. Dropbox link to the individual video-audio of speakers at the October 4, 2018 Public

    Hearing-

    https://www.dropbox.com/sh/xvsawyc9ysconpd/AAAnK3zHwAAkZSMwf8-hP8oea?dl=0

  3. 3. iCloud link to the video-audio recording of entire October 4, 2018 Public Hearing -

    https://share.icloud.com/photos/0JSPgp5lonnL-Aub5yB4NXG5g#Copake,_NY

    Link Expires 11/17/18. Video can be found in the SaveCraryville.org archive following.

    Below please find the verbatim transcriptions for the public record from the October 4, 2018 Copake Planning Board Public Hearing. _____________________________________________

    HILLSDALE RESIDENT, PETER COHEN
    Peter Cohen
    -- [Verbatim] “My name is Peter Cohen from Hillsdale. And I’m not a proponent

    and I’m interested in learning more about how the new zoning laws are going to impact this project. It’s my understanding that the spirit of the new laws, the zoning regulation-- um, is very different from that what this project has been approved to do thus far. So I decided in learning more on how this could impact the design, scope and scale.”

    SAVE CRARYVILLE ATTORNEY, DAVID K. GORDON:
    David K. Gordon
    -– [Verbatim] “ . . . I am pleased that you mentioned that the project is subject to the new zoning and what we have done is, we have taken the site plan and we superimposed on it the requirements of the new zoning for the Board’s information so that you can see it. . . Just to characterize the new zoning–the new zoning that applies here is hamlet business zoning. It’s a zoning that’s designed to implement a mainstreet type of scale which is very very different than the prior zoning. And the short message for the board is that this project fails to comply with the letter or the spirit of the new code in numerous ways. It’s not even close and that’s something I really want to take a minute and explain to the board. For instance, one of the critical aspects of the new zoning, and one of the critical aspects of mainstreet in that in addition to minimum setbacks when you push the buildings off of the road, there is actually maximum size, so the buildings are actually kept reasonably close to the road. And the maximum distance that a building is from the road under the new zoning is 50 feet. And that is delineated on this site plan in here in orange.”

    David shows physical GRJH site plan with minimum and maximum setbacks drawn in.

    “Here is the minimum setback in red. The maximum setback is in orange at 50 ft. That means that this building here, the convenience store, has to be a maximum of 50 ft away from both roads–Route 23 and Craryville Road. It’s about 100 feet from 23 so it’s double the distance it’s allowed to be–it’s even farther than that from Craryville Road. Haven’t even measured that one but that’s about 200 ft. So the point is, just starting with that, it’s nowhere near what’s required under what would be characterized as a mainstreet type of a zoning law, your town calls hamlet business zoning.”

    “So that’s not all that is the problem here. Additionally, the setbacks that you have here–it’s kind of in fluorescent light green–show the minimum setbacks for the project. It violates a whole bunch of those–the side and in the back. See almost all the parking spaces in the back are in the setbacks. You can see this is a 30 foot setback over here, and this one is a 60 foot setback. It’s not even close to being in compliance. I would also point out that the area that the Chairman mentioned before–over here where the trucks are–is also in the setback. And that is specifically prohibited in your code for gas stations. There is a gas station section in your code. By the way, we are passing out a comment letter–these are all detailed in the comment letter.”

    Mr. Robert Haight – [Verbatim] “You want to wrap this up cause your time is up.” David K. Gordon – [Verbatim] “Sure thing.”

    Shouting from various members of the public audience: [Verbatim] “No! Boo! Let him speak! He can have my time!”

    David K. Gordon – [Verbatim] “The short thing is this is in violation of the new code. It’s not close. There are a number of parameters, also the lighting based on the setbacks itself is going over the line. It’s all detailed in the letter. This project is way out of scale and has to be redesigned because it is not even remotely close to the code. It’s got to go back to the ZBA for whole pile of variances which probably they couldn’t get. That’s the short message–I understand the other folks want to speak. I would ask that if you do get done sooner than you expect that I might want to make a few more comments.”

    Mr. Robert Haight – [Verbatim] “Go head. No, I’ll let you right now. Go ahead.” Clapping from members of the public audience.

    David K. Gordon – [Verbatim] “Real quick then. A number of the other issues in the hamlet zoning you’re suppose to have sidewalks–it’s part of what it means to have a mainstreet. People can walk here and there. So of course again, this is out of the scale so no one is going to walk here. It is suppose to have sidewalks. It does not have sidewalks.”

    Mr. Robert Haight – [Verbatim] “Go head. Are you talking about under our code?”
    David K. Gordon – [Verbatim] “Yeah. The new–and again–this is a new thing Mr. Chairman.

    The new code is essentially–”
    Mr. Robert Haight – [Verbatim] “I’m the one that was head of that and wrote it so.”

    David K. Gordon – [Verbatim] “So for the other folks, this is really designed to as you know, and it says so in the comp plan, it says so in the code itself. It’s designed to create a mainstreet type of a district. It’s a completely different development scale than what we have seen before as part of suburban, highway type of zoning. So yes, sidewalks are a part of it. The maximum setback is a big part of it. If you don’t have that and your buildings are way off the road, you got to drive from here to there. This is very, very different.”

    “I will move quickly so the other folks can speak. There are serious concerns about the stormwater treatment. Under the DEC rules, you’re not suppose to have any runoff from a gas station directly into the landscape, what they call groundwater discharge. Twenty-two percent of this site will discharge, will not go through the stormwater treatment system–it will go into the adjacent land. And that’s just simply inconsistent with the DEC code. The other 78% will go through the stormwater treatment system–but if you look at the specifications of the stormwater treatment system–now this is very important–it’s built with an overflow so essentially if there is too much rain, it’s not going to go through the system–it’s going to bypass it. The problem is the concept is fine if you have a typical stormwater problem where your dealing with sediment, but most of the sediment issues are going to be the first half inch or inch of rain. When you’re dealing with a gas station like this though, the reason why you have a special treatment system, is for the hydrocarbons, and that’s not necessarily the first half inch. If it’s raining all day, people are going to be pumping gas all day, the prospect of spills can happen at any time–you’re going to be looking at the issue of bypassing that system and essentially going into the wetlands and right into the Taghkanic Creek. That has to be looked at very carefully. You need to be very clear on, and the applicant has to tell you, exactly at what level that is going to bypassed. And we’re getting more serious storms now. So you have to make the judgement that that is a proper level to be bypassed and there is no indication of that at all.”

    Mr. Robert Haight – [Verbatim] “Do you know how far away the Taghkanic Creek is?”

    David K. Gordon – [Verbatim] “I think it is approximately 400 feet away.”

    Mr. Robert Haight – [Verbatim] “No, no. That’s a ditch.”

    David K. Gordon – [Verbatim] “I think it is approximately 400 feet away. The Taghkanic Creek is further down the road.”

    David K. Gordon – [Verbatim] “Well I’m not sure. There’s a stream–that comes down this way–” Mr. Robert Haight – [Verbatim] “Yeah, that’s just a ditch.”
    Planning Board Member – [Verbatim] “Just let him continue please.”

    David K. Gordon – [Verbatim] “I would point out to the Board that there is a DEC regulated wetland between the project and the ditch that is 400 feet away and the overflow of the project will go directly into the DEC regulated wetland. And to the extent that there are hydrocarbons, etc, that are going to bypass the system that the applicants are putting in–I would submit to the Board that you have an obligation to check that out and make sure that it is being bypassed at the correct level.” “The other thing I wanted to say–and Mr. Chairman, and again –this is all in the letter. Just as a final conclusion, this is really, literally, a crossroads project for the Board and for the Town. And to be clear, I am not disputing the fact that the ZBA has given a Special Use Permit and for a gas station here. There are gas stations –and there are gas stations. This gas station as currently proposed will fundamentally obviate reverse the vision of the Town Board in the hamlet zoning code. This will make it essentially impossible to develop Craryville as a walkable mainstreet hamlet. It’s simply too big, it’s aesthetically too inconsistent–that’s another thing that’s in the letter. That’s another thing you need to look at–the aesthetics of this that hasn’t been done yet. But if you were to approve this in the current configuration, in addition to violating the code, you’d essentially be telling the Town that we are not going ahead with a mainstreet downtown hamlet type of project. That’s why the code was put into place. The is the main corner in Craryville–you need to develop this according to a hamlet type of a scale. It is possible to do a gas station according to that type of scale, not in this case. So you’d essentially be taking this new vision that the town has put into place and basically saying that it’s not going to happen here. Thank you.”

    Clapping from members of the audience.

    COPAKE LAKE RESIDENT, DOUGLAS LYON:
    Douglas Lyon
    – [Verbatim] “. . . For one reason or another this year, I’ve taken a renewed interest in the Town that I called home. And I cautioned it. What this project brings is not good. What you call a ditch, I call a stream. What they called the bay, others called an ocean. I worked for 20 years in the state of California and I believe they’re far and above, years and above, exceeding most states and countries in environmental issues and planning issues–’cause I dealt with wetlands and we pushed them under the rug, and we said they didn’t exist and they told us that the chemicals didn’t affect my body. For one reason or another, I’m still on this earth and there are others that I worked with, that came into contact with, who are no longer here. When I come down Route 23, and I make a right on 7, I look at a place that used to be called Random Harvest, and I look at a place that used to be called Weber’s Inn and I crest a hill, and I look at Copake Lake, that is not in the watershed of your creek but I believe it is affected by it. So I would caution you all–this is not a project that you want, no matter what job it may bring, or person says it is going to be good for the environment, or it’s going to be good for the economy. There’s plenty of jobs here. Think about it.”

    HILLSDALE RESIDENT, DAMON CLIFT:
    Damon Clift
    – [Verbatim] “Good evening, Chairman Haight and members of the Planning Board. Thank you for letting me speak. My name is Damon Clift, and my wife Diane Creed and I live on a small market farm in a valley in close proximity to the site. We grow fresh, local organic non-GMO heirloom vegetables, to make a living which is our only source of income. We fear that if this site gets developed on the scale of a turnpike-sized truck stop that the fumes from diesel trucks running constantly could settle in our valley and potentially ruin and destroy what we have worked so hard for 25 years to achieve. My wife Diane also, never having smoked a day in her life is battling metastatic lung cancer and does not need to breathe in diesel fumes. We don’t think another gas station and convenience store is necessary since there are already 3 others located within 5 miles. If allowed to be built, it could set a precedent for more commercial development, and ruin the rural character of the area. There are already 2 truck stops on Route 22 off the Interstate of I-90 and that is where they belong – not here.”

    “We live here because we love the rural character and the beauty of the area and would not want it to become like so many areas similar to Fairview Avenue in Hudson, with strip malls and urban sprawl, which would destroy forever the reasons we all live here.”

    “Please I beg you, to look into your hearts, to know what is true and what is not. I beg you to please make the right decision. Thank you for your time.”

    HILLSDALE RESIDENT, DAVID SANDBANK:
    David Sandbank
    – [Verbatim] “We are not against developing that site. The fact of the matter that that site has been sitting there for x amount of years, 10 years doesn't really mean that you should allow something in our opinion that is in scale far too big for that spot. The other thing is anyone who comes and says that we need 12 pumps really makes the area high driving and traffic and that’s where we’re concerned because guess what--those cars just don’t come through Copake or Craryville or wherever, they come through our entire area. And the only way economically a gas station can survive with 12 pumps is to get a lot of business and a lot of cars travelling through there. So there is going to be a lot cars coming from the Taconic to save on money–to come through there to get to a much larger, the largest gas station in Columbia County to get gas there and when you have economy of scale your going to have much less jobs per pump so guess what–the jobs are going to be going out of business to the left and to the right of both of those gas stations because they are going to be put out of business potentially by this gas station so economic development doesn’t work, jobs doesn’t work. I understand Commissioner what you said, not Commissioner sorry, Chairman, what you said earlier that’s not your scope but what I’m saying is that I would like to warn everybody or give you my opinion that this isn’t just about Craryville this is about a bigger area because of environment, because of traffic, because of character it’s really out of scale and not within character of the Town.”

    HILLSDALE RESIDENT, JOAN SCHMIT
    Joan Schmit
    – [Verbatim] “This is the first involvement I’ve had. It sounds like there are people that want this to happen hell or high water but there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed. It seems that there should be a meeting of the minds. Build your gas station but not the behemoth. It is enormous and out of place. It will cause a lot of environmental problems. You really smart people here willing to work with you to make it something that will fit. So build it so it is not a big eye sore.”

    OWNER OF HISTORIC CRARYVILLE TRAIN STATION, LILLY SKUGGEVIG: Lilly Skuggevig – [Verbatim] “. . .We recently purchased the old train station. It was something that came into our lives and my dream was to put an antique center back there. And my goal was to be able to purchase a property that was affordable that had future goals as far as a mainstreet, something that people could walk through, take their kids, buy ice cream, see the old train station–something that was simple. A gas station–we have gas stations. I live on Long Island. I currently commute 40 minutes to work. I pass hundreds of gas stations, tractor trailers, traffic, noise. I bought this property to come up here to get away. Now, it’s forcing me to reevaluate. What did I do? It’s a shame because this was supposed to be a dream, something that I purchased as a goal to renovate for a community that, thank you to Jamie, has brought me into this and has made me feel apart of the community. That–unfortunately, I would be an outsider to this situation and it’s shameful. That’s all.”

    CRARYVILLE RESIDENT, PAULA:
    Paula
    – [Verbatim] “I am from Craryville. Born and raised on a dairy farm that no longer exists in operation. This is the first time and I am didn’t know even know that we had anyone even considering Craryville as a hamlet we are usually the forgotten child. I’d rather look at the solar panels across from our house but I’d rather look at them than the old Craryville store. I feel bad for the Methodist Church as some house have gone to heck. I’d like to have a car wash – and I lived in GA for 10 years and we recycled water, She does not feel that there are enough jobs in the area for people. As a lifelong resident and it is near and dear to me and it is my home and don’t want to be left behind and not have anything built there.”

    CHATHAM RESIDENT, CARA:
    Cara
    – [Verbatim] “I think the most important thing that I am not hearing is the environmental impact statement. Whether people believe in climate change or We are seeing weather pattern changes we are seeing 1,000 year floods, we are not exempt. I’d like to know what the environmental impacts will be. Whether or not the scale is dropped down I’d like to see the environmental impact statement and it is my understanding that there hasn’t been a thorough environmental impact statement. Columbia County needs jobs there is no denying that but I question how many jobs this will create. Maybe a handful of jobs – some are better than others. But our land and this beautiful country we are so fortunate to live in but land is at risks from floods, a gas station and an oil spills all need to be examine thoroughly. Good planning will be better for the residents and help protect us from crisis and environmental degradation. I am not being hysterical about it. We should have details to make an informed decision. Things shouldn’t be brushed under the carpet and permits shouldn’t be rubber stamped.”

    CRARYVILLE RESIDENT, CONSERVATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEMBER, TOWN OF TAGHKANIC, ZITA KOBOS:

    Zita Kobos – [Verbatim] “A project as big and important deserves more than a little notice in the paper, do a full article and really present yourself. I was involved with the St Laurence Cement Plant and what won was the fact that the coastal management plans of NY State need to be in harmony. If you followed today’s zoning it wouldn’t be in harmony. Everything should be in harmony for the quality of life for citizens and the town and area and work with the new Random Harvest and the church and all the other possibilities for the area and visually fit the area. Make it a pleasure to come to. It is important for the tax base too because only beautiful towns for quality of life and it has to be in harmony.”

    HILLSDALE RESIDENT, SAVE CRARYVILLE DATA SCIENTIST, DAN LATINSKY: Dan Latinsky – [Verbatim] “. . . I was able to find 40 other gas stations in Columbia County to my knowledge and use Google Maps and use reverse engineering to figure out the size of all of them. You can see in here I have a chart of size, the average, all types of these stats that we have. Not only is one of the largest gas stations in Columbia County or proposed to be, it’s also going to be over twice the average size gas in Columbia County. Not fitting for a hamlet, not fitting for a small town, or mainstreet plan–fitting more for I-90, fitting more for the Taconic and so on. And so my question to you is: why do we need such a big gas station in Craryville? In consonant to what the lawyer said, David, this simply does not fit. There is no reason to have it at this size. It should be scaled by more than 50% downward. That’s more on average with other gas stations in Columbia County. ”

    COPAKE RESIDENT, LINDSAY LEBRECHT
    Lindsay LeBrecht
    – [Verbatim]
    ‘My name is Lindsay LeBrecht. I’m a newcomer to the area. I have been here for 27 years. (laughing) I know every other person in this room. But the point is-- I have seen the increase in traffic in that intersection and I’m really am pleading with you to please make sure that it’s really carefully looked at. I have seen five cars backed up on 7. I’ve almost had an accident coming off when I came back from Great Barrington-- because I’m making a left onto 7 and that stop that stop line -- is, people have to go beyond it just to look down the road. And when you do your site plan reviews, please just take a careful look-- it’s a dangerous intersection and adding gasoline. And when the other study was done, it was a time that was not-- when kids weren’t in school and I don’t think maybe it was a true picture of how busy that intersection has gotten. I just ask for you to please carefully look at that.’

    CONSERVATION ADVISORY COMMITTEE MEMBER, TOWN OF TAGHKANIC, MOISHA BLECHMAN

    Moisha Blechman – [Verbatim] “A project as big and important deserves more than a little notice in the paper, do a full article and really present yourself. I was involved with the St Laurence Cement Plant and what won was the fact that the coastal management plans of NY State need to be in harmony. If you followed today’s zoning it wouldn’t be in harmony. Everything should be in harmony for the quality of life for citizens and the town and area and work with the new Random Harvest and the church and all the other possibilities for the area and visually fit the area. Make it a pleasure to come to. It is important for the tax base too because only beautiful towns for quality of life and it has to be in harmony.”

    CRARYVILLE RESIDENT, FIREFIGHTER, MATT ROGERS

    8

    Matt Rogers – [Verbatim] “. . . I live two houses up from there on Craryville Road. I am 40 years old. I have lived here my entire life. Ok. I don’t come here. This is the first time I’ve ever stepped foot is this building for a meeting. I don’t agree with this. Like I said, I came from a fire meeting, I don’t speak on behalf of any department or anything else. It’s my opinion. I’ve gone to accidents at that intersection. My customer that lives between my house and that intersection nearly died–’cause of that intersection. I can’t tell you how many times I come out of my road, stop and some–I can’t say–pulls up to the side of me because it’s so wide there–that they think it’s a two-lane road and they can pass and pull right out there. Now your going to add intersections or all the traffic coming out of there. It’s going to be deadly. I want to be on record of saying my personal opinion–it’s gonna’ be deadly. I will go before a court when it becomes deadly and say I warned you. You understand me? It will be deadly. It won’t be someone getting hurt, breaking their leg. They will die. I’ve seen it–I’ve seen axels get ripped off of cars because they were flipped up there. It’s bad. Do not allow this. Like I’ve said, I’ve never gone in this room, and addressed you sir–or the Board–or anyone else. I feel very strongly with this.”

    FORMER ZBA MEMBER, TOWN OF COPAKE, HILARIE L. THOMAS
    Hilarie L. Thomas
    – [Verbatim] “I’m a former member of the Zoning Board. As I’ve sat here this evening and as I’ve seen on Facebook there are a number of inconsistencies and factual - well they aren’t facts quite frankly. For starters when this came before the ZBA I believe– I’m going off my recollection–iit was in Sept 2016. One of the big problems in a town like Copake is that it’s hard to get people to invest money in a town such as this because a lot of people blame the Boards including both the Planning Board and the Zoning Board for projects not getting off the first base basically–to use a baseball term. But oddly enough, a lot if times it comes down to other agencies that slow the process down. That could be the Department of Environmental Conservation, it could be the New York State Department of Transportation, it could be the Columbia County Planning Board. It could be a number of different licensing Boards.”

    “However, that being said, this first came before the Zoning Board in 2016. It was approved. A Special Permit was approved I believe in December 2016. This plan–it was then–the process is–approval and then usually in coordination it goes to the Planning Board for site plan approval. So it’s already met is approval process as far as the Special Permit. It goes to the Planning Board not for approval of the gas station, but approval of the various things as lighting: downward lighting, storm water treatment . . .road cuts from the Department of Transportation, a traffic study, whether or not there needs to be a traffic light at that point.”

    “I was part of the Zoning Board. We complete a SEQR, the environmental impact has been completed. It was issued as a negative declaration based upon the information that we reviewed which was significant.”

    “As far a some of the other conversation, this particular spot–although it has been dilapidated for I would say the better part of 25 years–this particular site has sat vacant for that long and it has been for sale for ten years. Someone finally purchased it and put up some money and came to this town in order to get the approvals to open a gas station.”

    “Also I wanted to go to the notice - someone said everyone should get a notice. It’s not within the town’s budget or even the applicant’s budget to send everyone within the town–which is really that’s all who this should really be affecting is the town of Copake and its residents. However, this was a notice for a special permit in the official newspaper, it was not the website of the town under public notice for the public hearing that was held for the special permit. I believe that was open for several meetings and that would have been shown for all of that. So it’s very disingenuous to say that all of a sudden — and some of you.”

    Audience Member – [Verbatim] “Do you work for the developer?”
    Hillarie L. Thomas – [Verbatim] “No, I do not. As I indicated before, I was part of the Zoning

    Board.”

    Cross talk from the audience.

    Mr. Robert Haight – [Verbatim] “Excuse me. Let her speak.”

    Hilarie L. Thomas – [Verbatim] “In any event the reality is that it’s not logical for a town, especially of this size to notice every person individually that there is going to be a gas station, particularly on a site that has sat vacant for so many years. In fact, this process began so long ago that some of you didn’t even own property that are out here sitting listening to some of the conversations and information that has been provided. Keep in mind that this has been going on for over two years and this is the final part of the process.”

    “This particular site has been a commercial entity in the past, it was a car dealership back in the 40s-50s, it was an auto mechanic sometime after that, and sometime after that it became a grocery store. That was back when Craryville actually had what you would call a hamlet. I think for some of you to come now and say that notice was not provided is untrue.”

    “And also I see a lot of people from Hillsdale and quite frankly, I question what standing you have to raise in this...”

    Audience Members – [Verbatim] “There are no borders! – Where do you live? – Where do you live?”

    Mr. Robert Haight – [Verbatim] “Hey!”
    Hilarie L. Thomas – [Verbatim] “I live in Copake. I would have to be because I was on the

    Zoning Board.”

    Mr. Robert Haight – [Verbatim] “All right, thanks.”

    Sincerely,

    Jamie Carano

    Save Craryville