The application for variances that would allow the construction of a 16-room hotel, restaurant and retail store on the southeast corner of Front and Third streets in Greenport won’t be decided by the village Zoning Board of Appeals for at least another month.
The ZBA, with two of its five members absent, last night adjourned to its March meeting a public hearing on the application of Westchester-based SAKD Holdings, a company in contract to buy the now-vacant 8,834-square-foot lot. The board declared itself lead agency for purposes of coordinated review under the State Environmental Quality Review Act and determined that the proposed action is an “unlisted” action for SEQRA review purposes and could have significant environmental impacts, especially on traffic.
Residents raised concerns about traffic during last night’s hearing, which was held at the schoolhouse on Front Street due to a scheduling conflict with the fire department wardens who had a meeting already scheduled for the fire department meeting room, where the ZBA usually meets.
“The traffic there is already a problem,” said Fifth Avenue resident Chatty Allen. She said the 12 on-site parking spaces provided are insufficient and the plan’s lack of an on-site loading area would mean trucks making deliveries to the hotel or restaurant would be stopping in the street, blocking traffic on an already-busy road. Allen voiced special concern for children walking along Front Street.
“If you approve this, it’s going to be on you when there’s a major catastrophe at this intersection,” Allen said. She said the developer’s “drawings are gorgeous” but “that’s the worst place for Greenport,” Allen said. “It scares the crap out of me.”
Third Street resident Jillian Hughes said parking is already a terrible problem for area residents. “It’s very hard to park there. In summer, it’s impossible,” she told the board. “It’s ridiculous. The variance should not be granted.”
But Flint Street resident Mike Osinski said the village needs to address its parking and traffic problems appropriately — by dealing with the MTA and the ferry company and not by holding back a development “which will help us grow as a community.”
Arthur Tasker of Beach Street said the village must weigh benefits of the project with costs. The impacts of traffic, parking and conflict with the other uses would be “overwhelming to that area,” Tasker said.
Fifth Avenue resident Bob Kehl suggested the developer make the entire ground floor parking and build a four-story building.
The developer is seeking code interpretations which, if decided as it suggests, would eliminate the need for at least some of the seven variances it has applied for.
The provision of parking spaces on site is one example. The current code requires 36 parking spaces for the proposed 16-room hotel, 80-seat restaurant (including 10 seasonal outdoor seats) and retail store. The proposed site plan provides for 12. The developer argues that no off-street parking is required at all, because the property was improved as of Jan. 1, 1991 and is therefore exempt from off-street parking requirements in the current code, said SAKD Holdings managing partner Dan Panessi.
Panessi and architect Tom Pedrazzi showed drawings of the building’s interior floors as well as street elevations. The proposed building would have a corner entrance, with trellised outdoor seating areas on Front and Third streets. The building facade would not exceed the required setbacks, but the proposed outdoor seating areas would be within the setback areas, Panessi said.
“It’s really about proportion on that site,” Pedrazzi said. A smaller development would look too much like “a shopping center,” he said. The plan maintains the street facade.
The building would also have a rooftop deck open to hotel guests only, he said.
The village ZBA will circulate the plans to other involved agencies for comment and will review a traffic impact study prepared by the applicant. It will take the application up again at its March meeting.