Story by Jennifer O’Connor
During the monthly Village of Warwick Planning Board meeting on Thurs., May 18, the Planning Board reviewed revisions made to the site plan for a proposed restaurant at 16 Elm St. with applicant John Christison, owner of Yesterday’s restaurant.
Christison is proposing to construct a 3,600 sq. ft. restaurant on the back, right portion of the lot, which is zoned light industrial. The property line borders the backyards of several residents on West St. and Van Buren St. Some of these residents have expressed concerns and opposition to the project in letters written to the Planning Board as well as in letters to the editor published in the Warwick Valley Dispatch and the Warwick Advertiser.
Residents who attended the meeting listened attentively as Christison’s engineer, Ross Winglovitz, spoke with the Board about changes that have been made to the site plan based on the concerns and suggestions from members of the Planning Board that derived from their “site walk” of the property on Sat., Apr. 29.
“As far as changes from the site visit, we have moved the patio forward, away from the neighboring property line, towards the parking lot to provide additional separation,” said Winglovitz. “We added landscaping around the patio to provide an additional buffer. The side of the building where the deck was will now be a covered porch, and a portion of the porch, the rear portion, will be enclosed – so that will help.”
Winglovitz said that the lighting levels around the building have been modified to reduce the lighting. Lights will have motion sensors so that they will not be on all night. The covered porch will have recessed high hats lighting. The patio, which will be open seasonally, and the walkways will be lit by bollards.
‘Little Speakers’ Outside on Porch
After Winglovitz told the Board that there will be no live music outside and that all music sources will conform with the Village performance standards, Chairman of the Planning Board George Aulen said, “There won’t be any speakers outside – correct?”
“There will be speakers outside,” Christison responded, as he plans on having “little speakers” for people sitting on the porch. “They are not speakers to blast music.”
Recap of Informational Session & Encroachment on the Elm St. Property
Christison’s attorney, John Cappello, spoke to the Board about a public informational session which was held on Sat., May 13 by Christison for residents who neighbor the property line. Cappello said that neighbors closest to the rear of the site attended the session, but there were “not as many as we hoped.”
“Those who were there heard the real facts about the proposed development and offered excellent concrete suggestions and relayed their concerns to us. We had a productive discussion,” said Cappello.
At the informational session, Ken Bowman, a 40 year resident of Van Buren St., said he has verbal permission from the owner of the property to put his shed on the lot. The property is currently owned by Frank Petrucci, Lynn Crane and Glenn Petrucci. Christison’s purchase of the property is contingent upon him receiving approval for the project.
Bowman expressed to Christison at the informational session that he doesn’t want to lose his shed. Cappello told the Planning Board that there was discussion about moving the fence line appropriately “to allow some of the existing structure that may be slightly over the property line to remain there.”
“That was my next question. What are you going to do about the encroachment?” asked Aulen.
“We will discuss options and we could give a license to have permission to keep it there as long as they are insured,” replied Cappello.
“I would obviously like to see this in writing,” responded Aulen.
Cappello and Winglovitz also informed the Board that based on other concerns from residents expressed at the session, they will move the location of the dumpster forward about 30 to 40 ft. further from the property line. They will also “beef up” the landscaping more.
Should There Be A Traffic Study?
Village Engineer David Getz said that many of the comments he had made in writing were already discussed. He said that the question was raised if there should be a “traffic study” and that the Board should discuss if they think one is needed.
In response Winglovitz said, “We provided an EAF (Environmental Assessment Form) with our estimate of the traffic and we don’t think it’s inconsistent with the traffic that already goes to the commercial businesses across the tracks and across the river. We don’t think there is any significant level of service change or any significant impact. Will there be more cars – absolutely, does it rise to any level of significant increase – we don’t believe so.”
A Planning Board member said that there is a lot of traffic on West St. and in the area around two o’clock when children are heading home from school. Other Board members said they were unfamiliar with the amount of traffic in the area during the evening hours.
“The car wash has a significant flow of traffic. There is a bagel store that does great business, but they are all morning,” said Planning Board member James Patterson.
Planning Board Secretary Maureen Evans pointed out to Patterson that there are other businesses in Mitchell Corners besides the bagel store such as a Chinese restaurant, pizza place, bakery, laundromat, physical therapy, consignment store, and eye glass store.
“All I am saying is that I am used to going down there in the morning. I don’t necessarily go there in the evening,” said Patterson.
When Aulen asked Board member Jesse Gallo if he had any comments, Gallo responded, “I guess, I defer to your knowledge on West St. as far as the traffic goes because I am not here during the day.”
“Basically my experience on Elm Street and down that area in the evenings – traffic is not very heavy,” said Aulen.
Aulen then reviewed the EAF that the applicant submitted which states that 50 trips were estimated on a weekday during the “peak PM hours” and 60 trips are estimated on “Saturday peak hour.”
During the discussion, the Board concurred that the peak hours for the restaurant would be around the early evening hours and not in the afternoon when there are many school buses on the roads. Therefore, the Planning Board determined that a traffic study is not necessary.
Hours of Operation Changed & Questioned
In reference to the hours of operation proposed for the restaurant, Planning Board member Ryan Denerely said to Christison, “The hours have significantly changed from the previous application. Could you comment a little about that as it relates to the operation of the business?”
In the application that was submitted to the Board in January, the hours of operation were listed as Mon. through Thurs. from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Fri. and Sat. from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m.; and on Sun. from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. The hours of operation have now changed to Sun. through Thurs. from 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. and Fri. and Sat. from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.
Christison said that this is what his operation hours are now at his restaurant on Main St. He further stated, “We usually close a little earlier but every once in a while people stay a little later. I didn’t want to say I am out of there by midnight when some nights I am not. But, generally I am out of there by 12 o’clock.”
Next Meeting Set for Jun. 15
The applicant will, once again, appear before the Board at the next meeting in June to address more comments. They also hope to have comments and approval from the New York State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) about the archeological assessment that has been submitted to SHPO.
The next meeting will be held on Thurs., Jun. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the Village Hall, located at 77 Main St. in Warwick.