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Copake planners want independent review of gas station

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The site of a proposed gas station at the intersection of Route 7 and Route 23 in Craryville.
March 11, 2019 10:45 pm

COPAKE — Planning Board Chairman Robert Haight assured residents Thursday that an independent engineer will review the site plans for the development of a gas station that has sparked a contentious debate among town residents.

The applicant, GRJH Inc., was not present for the planning board meeting at Copake Town Hall, 230 Mountain View Road, but public comments about the proposed gas station were accepted on the company’s behalf by the Copake Planning Board.

The gas station and convenience store is slated for a 1.7-acre parcel, which was once the site of a supermarket. The store plans include constructing a one-story, 3,240-square-foot building at the intersection of Routes 7 and 23.

For the past several months, residents have voiced concerns about topics ranging from safety to architectural style at several public hearings about the project.

Several residents spoke as part of the latest public hearing that lasted about 10 minutes. The public hearing will continue at the next planning board meeting April 4 at 7 p.m.

A group of citizens have formed Save Craryville in opposition to some of the conditions included in the site plan. One of Save Craryville’s attorneys, Emily Svenson, gave a statement to the board on behalf of the residents, suggesting that they did not have to enter into negotiations with the applicant for the price of an engineer’s study.

“It’s great to hear that you’re planning to hire an independent engineer,” Svenson said. “It’s something that we recommended to you, and it’s a case where it’s really necessary.”

The engineer should look at stormwater and plain septic location and the conditions underground, Svenson said.

Negotiations were ongoing because the board is considering more than one engineer to review the project, Haight said.

Jamie Carano, of Hillsdale, asked the board to provide the most recent site plans of the project at its next meeting, saying there is no other way to show the applicant is adhering to the changes suggested by residents and the board.

Requirements for the site plans are changing, which is the reason the site plan has not been updated, Haight said.

“When we hire an engineer, whatever subject we want them to look at, I will be handing them over everything they need,” Haight said. “And that’s the reason these things [plans] aren’t updated yet, because I keep adding what I want from the owner.”

To date, the Copake Planning Board is waiting to hear from the state Department of Transportation about the need for a traffic light or sign outside the area of the proposed gas station, Haight said.

“DOT has not done any of their work,” Haight said. “I have been asking, but I haven’t been given any answers.”

Carano held up one of two enlarged photographs of the gas station owned by GRJH in Ghent that appeared to have some trash and debris around it.

Carano called it a “soft point” to show what could happen once GRJH leased the building to another owner.

“Future maintenance is not part of our site plan review,” Haight said in response to Carano.