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Planners to vote on retreat this month

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Rosana Thompson of Catskill, addresses the town planning board Tuesday about her concerns with inproper zoning in residential areas.
March 13, 2019 11:51 pm Updated: March 13, 2019 11:51 pm

CATSKILL — Town planners said Tuesday they would make a final decision on a special-use permit application for a proposed retreat center later this month.

Representatives from Piaule Landscaping Retreat plan to feature 20 mini-cabins and one 4,000-square-foot house at the site. Four of the cabins will be two-bedroom, and the other 16 will have one bedroom.

The main building will feature an indoor pool, a dining area and spa, and will facilitate weddings and other events.

The project is before the planning board to obtain a special-use permit because the center is proposed for a rural-residential zone.

Resident Rosana Thompson addressed the planning board. Planners have not been operating in compliance with the town’s comprehensive plan, which it adopted in 2007, she said.

Initially, Planning Board Chairman Joseph Izzo did not think the board was the appropriate venue for such a complaint, he said.

“Comp plan issues should be directed to the town board,” he said. “I am not aware of any issues with the plan. As far as the planning board is concerned, the plan is what we use. If there are any defaults in the plan, that has to be addressed with the town board.”

Thompson addressed the town board, she said.

“Supervisor Davis told me to come to the planning board,” she said.

Town Attorney Michael Smith was present at the town meeting in reference, he said.

“At the meeting, she [Thompson] advised the board that provisions of the comprehensive plan were in conflict with portions of the application [for Piaule],” he said.

Because Piaule is being reviewed by the planning board, Thompson was told to address planners about the issue, Smith said. Izzo apologized for the miscommunication and granted Thompson the floor.

The issue of appropriate zoning extends beyond the Piaule project, Thompson said.

“This is a townwide situation,” she said. “I’m concerned we haven’t identified tourist zones.”

Mossy Hill Road is a residential neighborhood along a narrow road, Thompson said.

“Some businesses might not be appropriate for these zones,” she said. “Do we have the money to repave these roads? Will these businesses generate that kind of money?”

Thompson reiterated her concern that the guidelines laid out in the comprehensive plan have not been followed.

“If it was executed, it was marginally executed,” she said. “Out of 70 recommendations, I’d say only one or two were taken.”

Thompson wants to see the development continue in a way that attracts good businesses and keeps residents happy, she said.

“I want something we can act on now to control development and see it grow the way we want it to,” she said.

Planners decided not to vote on the permit until their next meeting, Izzo said, to take the time to respond to a letter from an attorney representing the neighbors of the project.

“The board would like to be able to respond to the attorney in written form our interpretation of facts he’s mentioned so residents and the attorney can have a better understanding of what we think,” Izzo said.

The attorney, John Privitera, asked the board for a further investigation of Piaule’s impact on noise, traffic and water supply on behalf of the neighbors in a letter to the board dated Feb. 22.

The board closed the public hearing for the project on Feb. 26, giving them 62 days to make a decision.

Planners will take a final vote on March 26.

“Based on the [executive] conversation with the board, the information from the public hearing and the applicants, we’re confident we can make a decision at the next meeting,” Izzo said.

If the board votes in favor of issuing the permit, residents would have 60 days to file an appeal with the zoning board, according to dos.ny.gov.