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Catskill hotel project applies for variances

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    Developer Mark Salomon, right, and Architect-Designer Charles Kuehn present Kuehn’s renderings of Greens Suites Hotel at the Zoning Board meeting Wednesday.
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    Charles Kuehn’s rendering of the Greens Suites Hotel in Catskill.
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    David Vipler presents his revised plans for the hotel at Catskill Golf Course at the Zoning Board’s meeting on Wednesday.
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    David Vipler presents his revised plans for a hotel at Catskill Golf Course at the Zoning Board meeting on Wednesday.
September 13, 2018 11:42 pm

CATSKILL — The proposed hotel at Catskill Golf Course has taken its next step in passing through the Zoning Board.

Golf course owner David Vipler has been trying to get his plans for a hotel approved by the town since February. Vipler presented his revised plan at a Zoning Board meeting Wednesday.

“We’re 1 mile from the Thruway,” Vipler said. “The Catskill exit does not have a hotel. The closest one is Carl’s Motor Lodge, which is seasonal and closes in November.”

The proposed lodging, called Greens Suites Hotel, would be open year-round, Vipler said.

Vipler’s plans were not accepted in the past because the hotel would be constructed in a high-density zone.

The new plans moved the site into a rural area zone and changed its size from three stories to four, and from 42 units to 50, Vipler said.

“The footprint is 125 feet smaller,” he added.

Meryl Learnihan, of Catskill, is a member of the Brooks Lane Neighbors — a group of residents concerned about the proposed hotel project — and was in attendance at Wednesday’s meeting.

“We want the golf course to succeed,” Learnihan said. “We’re not objecting to the stay-and-play hotel, but we want to make sure it’s in harmony with the neighborhood.

“It’s an old neighborhood — some people have lived in their houses for 60 years,” Learnihan added. “It’s well-established and quiet.”

Learnihan brought a list of concerns with her to the meeting from the Brooks Lane Neighbors.

The neighbors are concerned traffic will increase and the hotel would be a fire hazard.

“It’s a narrow road with a blind turn and no sidewalk,” Learnihan said. “We don’t even have enough water pressure to put out a fire in a one-story house.”

The Brooks Lane Neighbors has more than 30 members.

“We’re worried about his [Vipler’s] intentions and interest in our welfare,” she said. “We want it to be successful,but not run over us to make money.”

Barb Sanson, of Catskill, another Brooks Lane Neighbors member, said the hotel would be too close to home for her.

“The last thing I want to see is a four-story building down the road,” she said.

Vipler had to submit an application for an area variance because he wants the building set back 20 feet from the road instead of the 50-foot standard for rural areas, Zoning Board Vice Chairman Gary Harvey said.

“If we push it back further, it would be in the tree line,” Harvey said. “We don’t want to remove any trees.”

A new parking lot will be behind the hotel, Vipler said. In its previous incarnation, the building interfered with the existing parking lot.

“We are not taking away any parking; we are adding parking,” Vipler said.

The parking lot will be in a high-density zone, which means Vipler also had to apply for a land-use variance, Harvey said, adding the lot will require a short-form environmental assessment from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

The hotel will be hidden behind the clubhouse to address local residents’ concerns over having their view obstructed, Vipler said.

“Some homes on a dead-end road would see it,” he said.

The hotel will be built at the ninth hole of the golf course, Vipler said.

“It will remain an 18-hole golf course — that’s very important to maintain,” he said.

Vipler will have more steps to take before the project is approved.

“Once it’s through the zoning board and he gets the variances, it will continue to the planning board for a special use permit,” Harvey said.

Because Vipler’s 142-acre parcel is within 500 feet of county Route 23, the zoning board will have to send the plans to the county for a review to identify actions that could have intermunicipal or countywide impacts, Harvey said.

The project is expected to cost $8 million, Vipler said.

“We’re hoping to get approval this fall and start building in the spring,” Vipler said. “It’s a year-and-a-half-long project so it wouldn’t be complete until fall 2020.”

The public did not get the floor Wednesday because it was a regular zoning board meeting and not a public hearing, Harvey said.

The Zoning Board will have a public hearing for the variances at its next meeting scheduled for Oct. 10.

“The public and neighbors can come to the meeting and share their concerns and questions,” Harvey said.