Kiryas Joel emergency access request scrutinized

Woodbury. Plus, a new restaurant plans to set up at the former “Savory” location, but more parking may be needed.

| 28 Jun 2024 | 06:15

The Woodbury Village Planning Board’s review of a requested emergency access road in Kiryas Joel at the June 26 meeting prompted a discussion on whether such a road would truly be used for emergency purposes.

The village of Kiryas Joel is looking to build a gated emergency access road extending from Dinev Road and Frankfurt in the village of Palm Tree to connect Acres Road in the village of Woodbury. The representative for the applicant explained that the road was needed as an alternative route for emergencies, as there are often traffic problems at Dinev and Frankfurter roads. The representative said the road will be gated, but when it is not gated it will be open to the public. According to him, nothing in the village of Woodbury code requires a public road to open all the time.

When discussing the use of the road, the board questioned the need for it to be wide enough for two-way traffic, noting that a narrower road is sufficient for getting an emergency vehicle through.

During the application review, the applicant and the board debated over the use of the road, with the applicant commenting that it could be used to re-route traffic during an emergency, noting that in the past events have prevented residents from accessing their homes. Members of the board commented that this would mean every area would need access roads in the event of street closures.

Planning Board Chairperson Christopher Gerver, citing his many years in emergency services, emphasized that, while not having access to one’s home during an emergency is an inconvenience, it is not the same as ensuring first responders are able to access an area when needed.

The board agreed that the application would need to be referred to the building inspector to see if he determines the access road as a public right of way and to the Zoning Board of Appeals for any potential variances.

Highland Mills subdivision

The board also reviewed the application for a proposed 13-lot subdivision in Highland Mills. The engineer for the planning board discussed the potential impact on wetlands on lot configuration as well as the deficit in sewer capacity. The board discussed previous variances granted on the site and whether those had expired. The members approved the motion to have the board serve as lead agency and authorized the planning board attorney to refer the project to the ZBA.

Warehouse proposal

An applicant seeking to convert an existing single-family residence and shed located in Central Valley into a commercial building and warehouse, respectively, was met with questioning from the board, who sought more specific answers to the purpose of the project.

Gerver asked what would be stored in the warehouse, noting that the village needs to be aware of any flammable or combustible items. The applicant was unable to answer as he did not yet know which businesses would be using the property. However, the applicant was able to explain that the office and warehouse would work together.

The board asked for clarification on truck traffic patterns and expressed concern over the potential contamination of nearby water bodies. In addition, the board engineer asked for a revised narrative providing more detail on sewer and water calculations, traffic impact, water protection efforts, and flooding mitigation.

New restaurant

The board reviewed plans to convert the former Savory Grill on Route 32 into a new restaurant called “Whoo’s.” The representative for the applicant explained that this restaurant, to be in Highland Mills, would not require any changes to the exterior of the building, just some renovations inside. However, as noted by the board engineer, the previous restaurant received certain variances that may no longer be permitted and that the review of the property deemed the lot deficient in size.

In addition, the engineer commented that the number of available parking spaces is less than what is required, and this could also be a pre-existing condition that needs to be reviewed.

The board declared itself lead agency for the project and authorized the proposed plan to be referred to the building department for review of pre-existing non-conforming conditions. In addition, the board authorized their attorney to refer the project to the ZBA for possible zoning variances.