Senior housing plan moves to next stage

Woodbury. The board also broke down bonding for vehicles, ethics, and restructuring animal shelter funding.

| 28 Jun 2024 | 07:31

The Woodbury Village Board voted to amend the zoning map of the village of Woodbury at the June 25 meeting. The decision would enable a proposed senior housing development to be built in the village, pending approval from the village of Woodbury Planning Board as well as the Orange County Planning Board.

A public hearing on the proposed zoning amendment was closed on June 13 with written comments accepted until close of business on June 24. The applicant’s attorney praised the village planning board and acknowledged that while the process was lengthy, he appreciates going through it because it helped his team come back with a better project.

During the review of the development, the board affirmed its desire for permanent green space to be part of the project and for some form of urgent care facility to be located near the premises.

Members of the board, including Trustee James Freiband, shared their support for the project. Freiband claimed that there is a waiting list for senior housing in Monroe, Goshen and Chester.

“This actually offers the village a real resource for people that want to stay here and continue to participate in village life, so I’m very excited and hope it comes to fruition,” Freiband said.

Giacomazza also shared his support for the project, saying he was in favor of it from the beginning. He recognized the many residents who came out in opposition and said he considered all views before voting on the zoning change.

Among the residents to express concerns about the development was Jimmy Ng, who worried this would lead to more issues for the village. And, while he agreed senior housing was better than other projects, he still felt that it would negatively impact the area.

“At the end of the day a development is a development. I speak to so many residents that live here, you know, 30, 40, 50 years and every development that you put up, it changes,” said Ng, who also proposed setting up a fund to help homeowners who are impacted by severe flooding.

Recognizing Ng’s and others’ reservations about the development, Trustee Mathew Fabbro encouraged residents to attend the Woodbury Village Planning Board meetings and bring their concerns to them.

Vehicle purchases

A discussion on the approval of two vehicles for the Woodbury Fire Department prompted a debate on the best way to pay for capital equipment. Freiband reiterated his previous objection to purchasing capital equipment as an operating expense, suggesting that it should be bonded instead.

Resident Maria Hunter asked if the village treasurer could provide the community with a cost comparison. “I think maybe that would be an education for all residents.”

Later in the meaning, Tara Burek, consultant to the mayor, explained that most municipalities would use a fund balance, or operating capital, to purchase vehicles, noting the length of the bonding process and the current high interest rate on bonds.

“If anybody’s fiscally savvy, you know this is not the time to bond unless absolutely necessary,” said Burek.

Burek went on to praise the village for its long-time efforts at responsible budgeting and shared that for about a decade, it has received a negligible fiscal stress score from the state, meaning the New York State Comptroller does not designate the village as an area of fiscal concern.

Planning board chair

During the meeting, Trustee Susan Fries-Ciriello and others addressed Freiband’s questioning of Planning Board Chairperson Christopher Gerver’s qualifications at a previous meeting. Ciriello accused Freiband of targeting Gerver, claiming that he has long been gunning for the current planning board chair.

“Your false statements are irresponsible, unethical and the fact that you did not apologize when your statements were proven wrong clearly shows your lack of character, integrity, and perhaps your motive to purposely spread false information and mislead the residents of Woodbury,” said Fries-Ciriello.

Other business

Those interested in participating in the village of Woodbury’s new Ethics Committee can submit their application to the village until 4 p.m. on July 8.

At the meeting, Giacomazza announced that he is working on removing the Woodbury Animal Shelter from the village budget. He shared that he never believed that a municipality should be collecting money for animal shelters and that funds should be raised by concerned citizens, much like what happens with the library.

“One thing we’ve already started on is a Friends of the Woodbury Animal Shelter, which used to exist, I think at some point. Similar to what the library does, it takes it out of municipality hands and puts it in the hands of concerned residents,” said Giacomazza.