2012-02-29 / Civics and Politics

Planning Board, Village Board on Butterfield

Developer wants fast action; attorney advises a focus on zoning change
Tim Greco

The former Butterfield hospital opened in 1925 with funds bequeathed by Julia Butterfield, wife of Civil War General Daniel Butterfield, and it operated until 1993. Over the years, it was the birthplace of many lifelong residents.

But today, sadly, the site has fallen into a state of disrepair and has become an eyesore to many in the Village. Now, 19 years later, the Village of Cold Spring and developer Paul F. Guillaro are on the way to turning this decrepit and vacant site into a mixed-use development, with senior housing, municipal government space and retail –possibly including the Post Office located at the site, as well.

 At a joint meeting of the Village Board and the Village Planning Board on Tuesday evening, with the report of the comprehensive Board plan in hand, the two boards continued to hammer out the major issues and how to arrive at the fastest possible way to make the new Butterfield project a reality.

 The meeting also was attended by Ted Fink, GreenPlan planner and adviser to both boards; engineer Robert Cameron of Putnam Engineering; and Village Attorney Stephen Gaba. Also in audience were Putnam County Legislator Vinny Tamagna, developer Guillaro and his lawyer, Richard O’Rourke.

 One of the major issues at hand is changing the zoning laws for the site.

 Gaba gave an overview of the project: “The project is a subdivision of four lots. The first lot is the southerly most, (it) is going to have six three story buildings on it; four of them will have six units, two will have seven units; a total of thirty eight residential dwelling units, all designated senior housing.

 “The second lot ,which is closer to 9D, is going to have one large three-story building with fifty senior citizen designated residential dwelling units, this contemplated more to be rental type.

 “The third lot is the existing medical services building, in the northerly middle of the lot.

 “Fourth and final lot is the northerly most (and) will be a new three-story building on it, mixed use, it is completed possibly to be the post office and some municipal use there, it had been discussed commercial or retail uses being put in that building.”

 One of the major challenges both boards face is that the site is currently zoned B4 under the Village code, for hospital and medical.

 Senior citizen housing is also permitted in the B4 district, subject to site plan approval and a special use permit. Also allowed are Municipal buildings, which could possibly be extended to the post office moving to the site.

The real changes to the zoning involve the retail commercial element, which is not permitted under the B4 and zone.

 Gaba said, “The bulk requirements are, of course, another story altogether; we’ll have, at least to this conceptual part of the plan, elements which do not do not conform to what would be allowed under B4 zoning. A couple of examples: senior citizen housing, three-acre minimum would be required, (but) neither of the two lots would meet the minimum lot area.

“Two and a half stories, 35 feet (tall), that’s all the Village code allows, as far as the buildings go, and three stories and 50 linear feet is what’s being proposed in the plan.”

Density is another issue, Gaba said; “I know they are not proposing as many units that could be put in under the density proposed in their plans, but the plans do call for one unit per every one thousand five hundred square feet, where as the Village code permits one unit for every two thousand three hundred square feet.”

 Gaba said, “The first thing the Village Board and Planning Board need to focus on, in my opinion anyway, is the differences from what’s permitted under existing zoning to the change in zoning, and whether those things are acceptable or not. If they’re not acceptable, is there some half-measure, modified version that would be better? Those are the things we need to looking at.”

 All parties involved agreed that time is of the essence as far as getting the project underway. 

 There was plenty of back and forth among all parties over details of the changes in zoning laws, with Mayor Seth Gallagher keeping things moving.


Joe Barbaro, Chairman of the Planning Board, said, “We are trying to avoid a hard and fast timetable; it seems like we need to have something in place where there is a process, where the Planning Board does review this and gets back to the Village Board with a report.”  

 The attorney for Guillaro, Richard O’Rourke, said, “We filed our application in December and my understanding of your code is the first step with something like this is for the Village Board to obtain a report from the Planning Board. We’re coming into our fourth month and our concern is this: We’re on the operating table, our chest has been cut open, we’re having heart surgery – and part of our concern is that time is going by.”

He also said, “We respectfully request you move it along.”

 Guillaro informed the board that he had all intentions to work with them, but there were some things he could not agree on in the comprehensive plan. One of Guillaro’s concerns was moving parking in the back of the buildings.  

 Gallagher assured Guillaro, “everything in the report doesn’t seem to be a road block to me.”

 Gallagher also said, “The Village, Town and County support the project.”

 The project now is under the review of the Planning Board, with Ted Fink from GreenPlan advising the Board. They will meet again March 20. Also, a walkthrough has been scheduled for Saturday to review things at the site itself.

 Gallagher also announced that Planning Board member Joe Immorlica would not be seeking reappointment, and said,We want to thank him on behalf of the Village residents and the Village Board for excellent service to the Village and applicants.” 




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