Story by Katie Bisaro
At the Village Board meeting held on Mon., Dec. 4, Village Hall was once again filled to capacity with Village residents opposed to an application currently before the Village Planning Board for a new restaurant proposed for 16 Elm St.
The discussion began with Mayor Michael Newhard addressing questions posed in an email to the Mayor and Board of Trustees from West St. resident Patrick Gallagher.
According to Gallagher, there is a discrepancy in the current Village zoning code, versus the previous version, regarding distances used for placement of structures in a light industrial zone in proximity of a residential zone. Newhard reached out to Ted Fink, the planner who helped write the zoning code, but had not received an answer as of the meeting.
Mayor Newhard did speak to the Village Engineer, David Getz, who advised that the proposed building in question on 16 Elm St., would be in compliance, “even with a 200 foot residential zone [measured] from the center of West St.,” based on the applicant’s site plan.
Gallagher also posed a question regarding potential violations of the Village sound ordinance with the proposed development of 16 Elm St.
“Will the Village of Warwick take the steps necessary to determine in advance if the proposed development is going to violate our existing sound code? What equipment, experts and methodology will be employed to make this determination?,” asked Gallagher.
Newhard responded that the Village has “no enforcement capabilities on laws or codes that have not yet been broken.” He added that the Village will purchase necessary sound equipment for use by the Village Code Enforcement officer.
Thirdly, Gallagher’s email asked about the “prohibited use” portion of the code that addresses any use “that is of such a nature as to be detrimental to neighboring properties by reason of emission of odor…noise, or any other factor that is dangerous to the comfort, peace, enjoyment, health or safety of the area or community.”
Mayor Newhard responded that he and the Board agree that this matter is up to the Planning Board.
“This is their bailiwick,” said Newhard. “This is up for their interpretation.”
Finally Gallagher asked the Village Board to address the “publically stated contention and professional opinion of Steve Gross of HHE [Hudson Highlands Environmental Consulting] that there are multiple ways in which the Village Board could legally address these concerns raised by hundreds of citizens during the last 11 months”.
Newhard responded that Mr. Gross’s points are being reviewed by the Planning Board, as well as the letters and studies brought to the Planning Board’s attention.
“Mr. Gross is well-versed in environmental planning and as far as action by the Board, we remain advised by our legal counsel. This is an active application that has not yet been determined. That determination, of course, will be by the Planning Board,” said Newhard.
For the next hour or so, several residents spoke to the Board about this issue, including the length of time it is taking, in their opinion, to get answers to their concerns as well as their frustration with “the process.”
“Both the Planning Board and the Village Board are guilty of deferring to ‘the process’ as if it’s the only thing that makes a difference. All it does is deflect attention from the real matter at hand,” said Glen Carter, of Van Buren St.
Village Water System Inspection
In other business at the meeting, Trustee Barry Cheney reported that the Village received its annual water system inspection results from the Orange County Health Dept. All facilities – reservoirs, storage tanks, waste water treatment facilities, etc. – were inspected and included in the comprehensive review. Overall the report was favorable with only one or two minor issues.
Cheney commended the Village Board for the attention and support it gives to the water system and making sure funding is available to “do the best we can with the resources we have to keep things functioning as well as can be expected.”
Trustee Eileen Patterson thanked Cheney for his efforts and expertise as an engineer, with a specialty in water systems, and the attention to detail that he gives to the projects. Cheney also credited the water distribution supervisor as well as JCO, the contracted water facilities operator.
Discussion Regarding Mowing of Lewis Park
The Village Board received a letter from the Warwick Historical Society requesting mowing services from the Village of Warwick for Lewis Park and the grounds surrounding the Old School Baptist Meeting House.
The letter cited the many Village and general public uses of the property for such things as the annual Fire Dept. tree lighting, Christmas Eve sing, recent Sesquicentennial events, and community use of the area as public green space.
Because of these overlapping uses of their property, the Historical Society is requesting that the Village of Warwick consider taking over the regular mowing of the green spaces. The Historical Society would continue to maintain the trees and bushes as well as the fencing surrounding the 1810 House.
The Mayor and Trustees briefly discussed the request, agreeing that there is a lot of “overlap of activity.” It was pointed out that the Village has an agreement with the school district whereby the District mows part of Stanley Deming Park, while the Village cleans the school parking lots with its street cleaning equipment.
The Village Board will ask the Village attorney for guidance on this matter.
Second Apple Eve on New Year’s Eve
The Village Board granted permission to the Sesquicentennial Committee to hold Apple Eve on Sun., Dec. 31 on Railroad Green. Railroad Ave. will be closed starting at 10 a.m. to set up for the event.
Library Book Fair: Sat., Oct. 6, 2018
The Albert Wisner Public Library will hold its annual Children’s Book Festival on Railroad Green on Sat., Oct. 6, 2018 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Next Village Board Meeting
The next Village Board meeting will take place on Mon., Dec. 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Village Hall, located at 77 Main St. in Warwick.