December 4, 2022
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Village Board sets public hearing on business district parking regs

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Saugerties Code Enforcement Officer Eyal Saad responded to a resident’s request that the village increase the  parking allowable in the business district from one space for every two units to three parking spaces for every two units. “That’s from one-half to one-and-a-half spaces,” he said. Saad offered a history of the Village Board’s inquiries into parking.

In October of 2021, the Village Board was tasked with looking at parking as a whole. What came out of that was a public hearing, which no one from the public attended, said Saad. Following the public hearing, the board submitted a plan to the Ulster County Planning Board, which rejected it because the proposed plan “placed too significant a burden on new proposals while not assessing the impact on the existing parking demand and they voted to disapprove the change.”

Parking has always been an issue, Saad said. 

“It is important to consider that the B1 District is full to capacity and the ability to create new development is difficult, borderline impossible.” Other than taking a building down and putting it back up, it’s almost impossible to get new development in the district. I understand where they’re coming from; there’s a big issue with parking. But creating new regulations is not going to solve the problem that we have. New regulations will not solve the problem because they would only apply to new construction, and not preexisting construction, it is almost impossible.”

Saad said that there is one applicant before the Zoning Board of Appeals who wants a variance from the parking requirements. The village is caught in a dilemma because the master plan calls for more low-income housing in the village; it’s kind of a double-edged sword, because we’re supposed to add units, but we don’t have areas for parking.”

Rather than amending parking regulations, Saad said, we need to look into updating the zoning law, which was adopted in 1985. “We should hire a planner and look into our zoning as a whole.” Saad said the only solution he could see would be demolition of several buildings to make room for a two- or three-story parking garage.

Mayor Bill Murphy said there is sufficient parking in the village, but it is not concentrated in a single, large-scale lot or garage. “Parking is spread out through the village,” including the Reis Parking Lot, the village lot off Partition Street. There is ample parking, but just not concentrated in one place. If the solution is supposed to be a three-story parking garage, “who’s going to pay for it?” the mayor asked. 

Since any new parking regulations would only apply to future growth, “what’s the harm in passing them? asked Saad. “There’s no harm in doing it and it satisfies the request, as opposed to saying no and causing a stir. For future building in the village, if there is any, they would have to comply with the zoning law.”

The board voted to hold a public hearing on the proposed change of the law at its first meeting next year, January 3, 2023.