Location: 1851, 1867, 1875 East Main Street, Mohegan Lake
Contact: Site Design Consultants/Rick Cipriani
Description: Proposed redevelopment of a portion of the referenced property by removing one of the existing buildings and parking area, and constructing a new 10,000-12,000 sf retail center with associated parking and proposed through road connecting to the adjoining property to the west.
Planning Board, 1-25-2016
In response to Planning Board and Planning Department comments, some slight modifications have been made in the plan, including changes to the rear parking lot to minimize the likelihood of the area being used as a cut thru.
Mr. Riina advised the board that before he proceeds to develop more detailed plans, he will reach out to the DEC and the Army Corps of Engineers to get feedback from them. Because the wetland is a Type II wetland, the plan will need a longer and more comprehensive review. The applicant was also advised that before meeting with the outside agencies, he should complete a full EAF that reflects the latest plan revisions.
Mr. Capellini asked if anyone had considered the possibility of using the Ardizonne site for off site mitigation. There was no discussion on this issue.
Planning Board, 12-21-2015
Based on meetings the staff, the applicant showed the board a revised site plan that reconfigured one of the buildings and moved both buildings back from the road while maintaining a streetscape; doing this reduced the incursion into the wetland buffer. The applicant also informed the board that the old house on the property has been demolished. Any discussion about access issues with the abutting property owner will be put on hold pending the start of construction. The current plan shows two access points to Route 6. The board asked the applicant to tweak the plan further in an effort to avoid making the rear of the site a thoroughfare.
Bruce Barber raised the issue of whether, as part of the application’s wetland mitigation plan, the applicant would consider some off site mitigation on the Arridzone property on the south side of Route 6. The applicant said he would think about this.
Planning Board, 10-19-2015
The point was reemphasized that the proposed vehicle connection between this site and adjacent businesses will be a parking lot inter-connectivity only, not a through road. Parking is now shown in the rear of the buildings. A Conservation Board memo indicates concerns about drainage on the site. (Note: The CIY was not present for the entire discussion.)
Planning Board, 10-5-2015
Before the Planning Board took up the Envirogreen Associates project, Mr. Fon referenced comments made at the 9/21/15 Public Information Hearing on this project. Specifically, Mr. Mallon, an property owner adjacent to Envirogreen, questioned whether a conflict of interest existed if the same attorney represented multiple parties in the review of this project. Mr. Fon asked the Planning Board Counsel to prepare a legal opinion on the general role and responsibilities of the Planning Board in such situations.
As requested by the Planning Board, the applicant showed a plan with the proposed buildings moved closer to Route 6, moving all the parking to the sides and back of the buildings. A small, planted courtyard is proposed between the building front and Route 6. In general, the Planning Board liked this design change, although the applicant prefers parking in the front. Parking in front of retail stores makes it easier for customers to get out of their cars and walk right into the front of the destination store. Rear parking and entrance requires the business owner to maintain two attractive faces.
There was extensive discussion of comments made by neighboring property owners concerning the proposed thru-traffic on their properties. Planning Board Counsel Georgiou is preparing a legal opinion on the easements requirements in such situations. Mr. Tegeder emphasized that the traffic movement between the three properties was not conceived as a “thru-road”, as it’s been characterized in planning review discussions, but rather as a “connection” of parking lots. Various traffic calming devices were discussed, as well as ways to reconfigure the internal driving lanes so as to make the three properties highly undesirable as an intentional short- cut off Route 6. Mr. Tegeder advised that a traffic engineer be consulted for design suggestions. The discussion pointed out several other locations in Town where parking lots are connected, but parking is not shared and easements have not been required. The connection of the Triangle
Shopping Center and CVS
Plaza parking lots in the Town center is an example that has been very effective in keeping extra traffic away from the Route 118/Commerce St. intersection.
The project engineer asked the Planning Board to be aware in asking for building location redesign, as well as in phasing the construction, that existing tenants will be on the site during construction and will need to relocated to new buildings with minimal interruption in their businesses.
Planning Board, 9-21-2015
Public Informational Hearing
In describing the proposed project, the applicant emphasized that the elimination of some existing curb cuts on Route 6 and the provision of a vehicle roadway from Lakeland Ave. connecting this site with those to the east and west would help ease congestion on Route 6. The applicant claims this is in keeping with the Town Master Plan. Easement issues with the neighboring property owners have not yet been resolved. A wetland will be constructed in the northeast corner of the site, which will provide 75% mitigation of the necessary wetland incursion. The remainder of the mitigation will be covered by the proposed treatment of Route 6 run off before it flows into the wetland. Currently there is no treatment of Route 6 run off. Both Town and DEC wetland permits are required.
Mr. Capellini, attorney for the applicant, gave a historical overview of the treatment of wetlands in the Route 6 corridor. He said that when the Town purchased the wetland on the south side of Route 6, behind and on the Winery at St. George property, it was with the understanding that future developers, whose projects would further encroach on Route 6 corridor wetlands, could pay a monetary contribution to the Town which would help mitigate their wetland disturbance and offset some of the Town’s cost for the purchase of the St. George wetland. Mr. Capellini hoped this provision could come into play with the Envirogreen project.
Questions and Comments from the public:
Marc Saidel of Saidel and Saidel P.C., attorney for the property owner to the west, asked if the roadway connecting the three properties from Lakeland Ave. to Route 6 could be put in place without easements from his client. He said his client understood there would be shared parking with the Envirogreen site as well as his neighbors to the north and west, but thought this was very different than a thru roadway. He thinks the roadway will put excessive traffic onto his property and set up dangerous, inconvenient conditions for his tenants. The Planning Board recognized Mr. Saidel’s client’s concern and emphasized that no decision about the roadway has been reached. Ms. Georgiou, counsel for the Planning Board, declined to comment on the easement situation.
Tim Mallon, owner of the property to the east on the corner of Route 6 and Lakeland Ave., reiterated his contention that he never agreed to an easement for a roadway through his property. At the time of his site plan approval, he only agreed to provide access through his property from Lakeland Ave. to the 2000 sq ft Dana Cole property directly to the west, not traffic for an entire strip of commercial buildings, as proposed by Envirogreen. He said the extra traffic would make his property worthless and accused the Town of not dealing in good faith. The Planning Board emphasized that nothing had been decided yet, that no comments could be made on the legality of the situation and that the Planning Board was obligated to review any project submitted.
Jeanette McGrath, representing Goldblatt and Associates which is a law firm located across Route 6 from the Envirogreen site, asked what kinds of tenants are expected, the time frame for the construction, whether any closings of Route 6 are anticipated and about the prospects of empty buildings. Neither the Planning Board nor the applicant had any answers at this point.
Rick Cipriani, the principal of Envirogreen Associates, commented that his only intent in proposing the thru roadway is to help alleviate Route 6 congestion as per the Planning Board’s request, not to create unsafe conditions, and that he would readily eliminate the roadway from the project if directed by the Planning Board.
The Public Informational Hearing was closed.
Planning Board, 8-10-2015
The applicant has relocated the entrance further to the west on Route 6. No progress has been made with the discussions about cross easements with the owners of Village Traditions to the east and Mohegan Plaza to the west. The owner of Mohegan Plaza said he was opposed to the easement. It was noted that while the site plans for both developments call for the cross connection, requiring the owners to actually enter into cross easements could be a separate legal issue; the board’s attorney is looking into the issue.
The Conservation Board has suggested that the buildings be moved closer to the street; Mr. Tegeder noted that the buildings to the east and west of the site appear to be 30 feet from the road, compared to about 50 feet on the current plan. He also suggested to the applicant that he look at the Mohegan Streetscape Plan that was done several years ago. The board asked the applicant to prepare alternative plans that move the buildings closer to the road.
A public informational hearing will be held on September 21.
The applicant said he prefers to postpone discussions with the DEC until after he has a more definitive sense of what the Planning Board will require.
Planning Board, 6-22-2015
Having previously given its approval for the demolition of a building on the site, the Planning Board was going to discuss the project’s parking plan and the desirability of traffic entering and exiting from Lakeland St. as well as Route 6. Then Mr. Tim Mallon, the owner of the building at the corner of Route 6 and Lakeland St, entered the discussion and adamantly insisted that he never agreed to allow the traffic connection between his property and the site under discussion. He vigorously argued that all the extra cars crossing his property would hurt his property value. Mr. Fon and other Planning members assured him that the Board would only discuss the plan before it, as it stands without his participation in the traffic plan and that the Planning Board couldn’t force Mr. Mallon to allow access across his property. Mr. Mallon was invited to stay to hear the Planning Board discussion, but he left, saying that the rest of the project had nothing to do with him. The Planning Board did discuss the traffic patterns entering and leaving the site from Route 6 only and instructed the applicant to develop an entrance on the east end of the site, leading to parking both in front and in the rear and then an exit onto Route 6 on the west end. However, it also instructed the applicant to include a traffic connection to Mr. Mallon’s property and Lakeland St on the site plan, although this access wouldn’t be activated at this time. Ms. Steinberg pointed out that a connection to neighboring properties was in fact a condition of Mr. Mallon’s own site plan approval, but in fairness, when he had agreed to it, the connection was only between his property and the adjacent one, not three commercial sites strung along Route 6.
Mr. Kincart brought up the issue of how much the public should be allowed to participate in work session discussions. Ms. Georgiou, counsel to the Planning Board, advised it was essential to be consistent in policy regarding public participation.
Planning Board, 6-8-2015
The building in question formerly housed the Dana Cole Hair Salon. This is a referral from the Building Department, basically asking the Planning Board if there are any potential uses for the building proposed for demolition. The Planning Board sees none. According to the applicant Mr. Cipriani, the interior of the building has totally deteriorated and has been assessed zero value by his bank. Mr. Cipriani said it didn’t matter to him whether the demolition permit was issued now or as part of the final site plan approval for the whole property. The Planning Board will notify the Building Department that it has no objection to the demolition permit being issued at this time. Mr. Tegeder asked that the Planning Department be provided with photographs of the building in its present condition.
Planning Board, 5-4-2015
The applicant returned with a revised plan that now includes the addition of the building to the immediate west of Village Traditions (once the proposed home of Dana Cole hair salon). With the addition of the new property that was purchased recently and rezoned in April (See Town Board, 4/7/2015), the applicant anticipates that he can do more onsite wetlands mitigation as virtually all the area along Route 6 is in a wetland or a wetland buffer. The site includes 19,000 square feet of wetlands and 54,000 square feet of wetlands buffer.
Mr. Kincart said that while he wasn’t happy with the original plan, he liked the new plan which made more on site mitigation possible. In general, the board seemed pleased with the new plan as it could help improve drainage issues for surrounding properties. The board will consider a site visit. The wetlands were flagged last summer.
Mr. Capellini explained the history of the Ardizone property acquisition that was designed to create a wetlands bank that would allow for the development of other wetland sites along Route 6 and which could make possible the concept of “no net loss” of wetlands.
Mr. Riina explained that the applicant prefers not to discuss the project with the DEC until the applicant has a better sense of what the Planning Board wants for the site.
The board asked the applicant to consider working with the owner of Village Traditions to see if a common entrance to Route 6 could be agreed to that would eliminate the parking in front of the Village Traditions site.
Planning Board, 12-8-2014
The proposal is to remove the existing 5000 sq ft building, housing a Dunkin’ Donut, a pizza place and a nail salon, and replacing it with a 10,000 sq ft building. The site has adequate parking, even if the new building becomes a restaurant, i.e. 107 spaces. The plan includes a vehicle pass-through connecting this property and the one to the west, which would relieve some traffic on route 6. The applicant would like to obtain property to the east (housing a party store and hair salon and which is in foreclosure) so that traffic could enter the back of the combined sites from Lakeland Ave.
The main difficulty is that the site has 7 ac. of wetland, 1/3 -1/2 ac. of which would be filled for the proposed pass-through road. Even without the connecting road, the entire proposed building and most of the parking is in the wetland buffer. The applicant has experience in new wetland creation as mitigation and is willing to do this. He’s also okay with eliminating the connecting road, if that’s the Planning Board’s preference. It was generally understood that a site with such environmental restrictions would never be before the Planning Board, except that it’s in the heavily developed Mohegan/route 6 corridor.
There was discussion between Mr. Barber, Mr. Tegeder and project engineer Mr. Rina about when the wetland should be delineated, considering weather restrictions, the already extremely disturbed character of the wetland and the very preliminary nature of the proposal before the Planning Board. Mr. Rina and Mr. Barber favored doing the delineation now. Mr. Tegeder favored holding off until the Planning Board had something more definite to consider. The Planning Board decided on the latter timing. Applicant’s Counsel Mr. Capellini will research the history of the Town’s approach to route 6 corridor wetlands as it relates to theTown’s condemnation of the Ardizone wetlands on the south side of route 6 in the 1990s.