The Putnam Examiner

Crossroads Project Generates Debate in Southeast, FEIS Approved

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The controversial Crossroads 312 commercial development proposal in Southeast sparked heated debate during a Nov. 20 town board meeting, shortly after a split town board determined the project’s final environmental impact statement was complete.

Town Planner Ashley Levy said only minor changes, such as the corrections of typographical errors, were needed for the FEIS.

Voting for the resolution stating that the FEIS was complete were Councilpersons Robert Cullen, Elizabeth Hudak and Edwin Alvarez. Voting against the resolution was Supervisor Tony Hay and Councilwoman Lynne Eckardt, who said they wanted to see the changes in print before saying the document was complete. 
After changes are completed, the FEIS will be available on the town website, Hay said.

The project, proposed for nearly six acres on Route 312 by Crossroads 312 LLC and JPH Development Corp., calls for a four-story, 100 room hotel and a total of 143,000 square feet for four “small box” retail stores. The project requires a special permit, wetlands and site plan approval from the town board, which is serving as a planning board for review of the project. The town board also needs to change the zoning of the property from the current RC (rural commercial) to HC (highway commercial). The project was initially presented to the town board in August 2009

During more than a two-hour public comment period, most of the several residents spoke against the project.

Resident Ann Fanizzi said the board should not have determined the FIES to be complete. Fanizzi said she reviewed the FEIS at town hall, but it should have been placed on the town website for residents to read.

Fanizzi added Crossroads 312 was too large of a development for the area. The town board should follow the opinion “of the majority of this community” and turn down the project, she said. The obligation of the town board is to “represent the people of this community,” she said.

Another resident, Richard Owen, also said the project was not appropriate for the site. The two lane highway could not safely handle the additional traffic the project would generate, he said.

Resident Keith Napolitano said he had several concerns about the project. The property’s current zoning should not be changed by the town board, he said. If a commercial development was approved for the current rural commercial zone it would be smaller and more appropriate to the area, he said.

The Crossroads project would be more appropriate for Route 6 rather than Route 312, Napolitano said. Alvarez replied that the applicants have not expressed a desire to develop on Route 6 and they had a right to put the plan before the town board.

Napolitano, a local volunteer firefighter who said he was only speaking on his own behalf, said the added traffic on Route 312 could make it difficult for him and other volunteers to reach the firehouse and get ready and on the fire truck to prevent a major fire from not being able to be put out in time.

Though most of those who spoke at last week’s meeting said they opposed the proposed development, there were some supporters.

Putnam County Economic Development Corporation President Meghan Taylor said there was need for a hotel in the area. The project would generate both construction jobs and about 500 permanent jobs after the property was fully developed.

Putnam County Deputy County Executive Bruce Walker said the Crossroads 312 project would generate sales tax revenue to the county. Bruce said that even though Hay said additional sales tax would go to the county and not be distributed to Southeast, sales taxes dollars hold down property taxes paid to the county, Walkers said. Hay replied the town would not receive sales tax benefit if Crossroads was constructed because the county would never share sales tax revenues with its municipalities. “We’re not going to get it. It’s not going to happen in my lifetime,” Hay said.

Richard O’Rourke, an attorney representing the applicants, said the town needed to do a fair review of the application, even though it has been criticized by many residents. The town is required to follow the terms of the SEQR environmental review laws, O’Rourke said. “It’s about process,” he said.

No date for when the project would be back on a town board agenda was announced at last week’s meeting.


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