Special Work Session
June `15, 2015
The meeting was devoted solely to a discussion of the Costco site plan.
The applicant made a brief presentation reviewing the application’s history and noting that a few minor changes have been to the site plan that was included in the FEIS. The most notable change dealt with the size and location of the stormwater infiltration chambers and the pollution remediation plan. A second change was the addition of approximately 20 landscaped islands throughout the parking area, a change requested by the Planning Board. Additional changes that refer to mitigation measures are included as notes on a series of drawings. A 17 page document identifies what mitigation measures are included on what drawing.
According to the applicant, the Watershed Inspector General is satisfied with the stormwater changes and the applicant expects a similar okay from the NYCDEP shortly. The applicant has also made some stormwater modifications to reflect input from the DOT regarding runoff from the Parkway.
Lisa Hochman, the Board’s special attorney for the project, explained that the site plan review will follow the Findings Statement that was adopted on December 15, 2015 (a copy of which is available on the town’s web site). Basically the Board will be tweaking or fine tuning the FEIS site plan.
Copies of all the documents have been submitted to the town’s technical staff who will be reviewing specific chapters, e.g., stormwater and landscaping; ABACA is reviewing the building and visual impact from the southbound lanes of the Taconic State Parkway, leaving the board to focus on traffic, parking and quality of life issues.
Traffic consultant Phil Grealy went through the traffic changes along Route 202 from Strang Blvd to Old Crompond Road. Explaining that the improvements Costco will be making should shorten the delay time that currently exists, he outlined the addition of turning lanes, thru lanes, a 5’-6’ shoulder along the road (except narrower under the Parkway bridge) that will also serve as a bicycle lane, plus a 5’ strip for snow loading, a bus turnoff lane and shelter, and sidewalks. At key crossings, there will also be pedestrian controlled buttons to stop traffic. Once all the improvements are in place, he said there would be pedestrian sidewalks from Strang Blvd through to Little Sorrento’s on Route 202, although on different sides of the road, but with pedestrian controlled buttons where crossing was needed.
In response to Mr. Flynn’s concern that the 5’ wide shoulder for bikes was not safe and that a separate lane was desirable. Mr. Grealy noted that at least 5’ is better than the existing total absence of a lane along portions of Route 202. Mr. Flynn proposed that instead of the 5’ lanes, the applicant provide money for off -site bike enhancements. When Ms. Hochman noted that the purpose of mitigation measures was to deal with the impacts of the proposed development and not to improve a situation, e.g., the absence of shoulders, that currently exists, Mr. Flynn responded that encouraging bike use would be a mitigation measure that would lessen traffic delays east of the site. Mr. Grealy said that signal timing could improve that situation.
Mr. Flynn also expressed concern about the internal access road leading to the site’s secondary entrance/exit; he saw potential problems/conflicts between cars entering or existing and customers loading up their cars, possibly from the rear. Mr, Kincart shared his concern. In response, the applicant said he would look at signage and speed bumps as a way to mitigate this concern, adding that at this point, the configuration of the lot could not be changed.
In its site plan Costco is proposing to use 25’ tall light poles where the town code (chapter 200) limits the height to 16’. According to the applicant, the taller poles give better lighting and fewer poles are safer in the parking lot, a point that the board appeared to agree with. As the town’s lighting code, which is separate from the zoning code, does not have a provision for varying its requirements, the attorney will look into this issue and determine whether the lighting code needs to be changed or whether the Town Board can authorize the Planning Board to vary the code if it so chooses.
Another legal issue that will need to be resolved is whether the board will be required to hold a public hearing on the site plan. Whereas public hearings are required prior to site plan approval, according to the Planning Department, when the SEQRA public hearing was noticed, it included a hearing on the site plan. The attorney will review the issue and other requirements of state law.
The applicant will have a surveyor delineate the limits of disturbance, which may take about three weeks, and after that is done the Planning Board will do a site visit, along with the Conservation Board.
The board will likely resume its discussion of the site plan at its July 13th meeting which will give the town’s technical staff time to review their pertinent sections of the site plan.
During the work session, there were comments from two members of the public. Ann Kutter, who lives the area, wanted to know if the residents along Old Crompond Rd would be notified prior to any blasting. The applicant assured her that they would and that Costco would be doing a pre-blasting survey. Blasting will only be done as a last resort and, if necessary, will follow all requirements in the town code.
Lisa Morales-Hellebo expressed concern about the design of the main entrance road and the fact that once on the site, the same access would be used for cars turning right for gas and left for parking. In response, it was explained that the ingress/egress details had been worked out over a series of about a dozen meetings with the NYSDOT that controls access to Route 202. It was also explained that at this stage in the site plan review and after the DEIS and FEIS reviews, the only changes to the plan would be fine tuning. When Ms. Morales-Hellebo asked to see traffic studies, she was advised that all the documents relating to the Costco application were on file for public viewing at the Planning Department and that some documents were also available online.