Highland Square made big strides in 2010, amid controversy. The 22-acre parcel at the northwest corner of Routes 9W and 299 received a long-awaited zoning change on March 12 -- from Design Business (DB) to Planned Unit Development (PUD). The PUD permits the DES Developers’ proposal: a $100-million complex featuring a special needs assisted living, medical offices, retailers and restaurants. Homeowners of Lauretta Drive, the residential road which sits opposite the sole entrance to Highland Square, began voicing their concerns in May. As proposed, the project will negatively affect their quality of life, lower property values, create unsafe traffic buildup on Route 299 (up to 786 additional car trips per day), add noise pollution and deface the aesthetics of the area with incongruous 3.5-story structures, they said before the Lloyd Town and Planning Boards. Their concerns were not unheeded: On June 24, the planning board declined to adopt the town board’s positive State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) declaration and issue preliminary subdivision plat approval in a 3-4 vote. The town board voiced its displeasure and town attorney Terresa Bakner clarified the planning board’s role: to determine whether the proposal followed the law drafted by the town board. The planning board reversed its decision in a June 28 special session. In August, attorney David Gordon filed an Article 78 Proceeding, a New York State Supreme Court appeal of a fair hearing decision, against the town on behalf of Lauretta Drive residents Fran Raucci and Madeline Labriola. The town board retained Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, LLP, to defend against the pending lawsuit.
Vineyard Commons -- another DES Development project -- had its first tenants in June. The 185-unit luxury senior housing complex on Vineyard Avenue completed construction following a years-long approval process. The Bistro at Vineyard Commons, under Executive Chef Chris Diesing, opened to the general public.
October brought a taste of possible development to come: Vincent Bettini presented a preliminary concept for Orchards of Lloyd, a 200-unit 55+ housing complex just one-quarter mile down the road from Vineyard Commons. The community of detached, single-story ranch homes would center around a clubhouse with age-targeted amenities, including a senior clubhouse, shuttle service to and from shopping and doctor visits, and an on-site nurse service in partnership with Saint Francis Hospital of Poughkeepsie. Two-bedroom, 1,200-1,600-sq.ft. units would start at $160,000; residents will own their homes and hold 99-year land leases.
In landmark legislation, the board adopted the Town Code Chapter 100, “Zoning,” rewrite, along with new versions of Chapter 90, “Subdivisions,” and Chapter 58, “Farming” on April 7. The comprehensive zoning laws will reshape Lloyd’s future residential, commercial and agricultural growth, with significant economic, environmental and recreational impacts. Lloyd’s previous zoning code, adopted in 1975, had fallen out of sync with contemporary development demands. Among many changes, the new codes extends property lines, names floating zones, encourages smart growth along established infrastructure, protects Illinois Mountain and Black Creek and allows for adaptive reuse. Ratification of the final verbiage will continue into 2011.
In August, Lloyd went semi-smoke-free with the passage of Local Law No. L—2010, to establish a new Chapter 83, “Smoking Prohibitions. Those caught smoking in parks and town playgrounds will be subject to fines of up to $500. Lloyd joins over 190 municipalities in New York State that have adopted tobacco-free policies.
The Assessor’s Office completed a revaluation of all Town of Lloyd properties by March. The 2010 equalization rate is 100 percent of assessed value -- up from 95 percent in 2009. Overall, the assessed value of the town increased .02 percent. Colonial values were down; vacant land prices went up.
In parks news, Hudson Valley Rail Trail East opened to much acclaim on Oct. 2. Joining Lloyd Supervisor Ray Costantino and Hudson Valley Rail Trail Association Board President Claire Costantino for the ribbon-cutting were Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-Hurley), State Assemblyman Frank Skartados (D-Milton), Ulster County Executive Mike Hein, New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Carol Ash, Ulster County Tourism Director Richard Remsnyder and members of the Rail Trail Association Board of Directors. Rail Trail East begins at Commercial Avenue, expanding over Route 44/55 via an arched pedestrian bridge, creating an underpass below Route 9W and through to Mile Hill Road, linking up with the Walkway Over the Hudson. The improvement added 1.13 miles to the existing Hudson Valley Rail Trail. The new stretch of trail hosted the second annual Highland HudsonFest on Oct. 9, drawing hundreds of visitors to the town business and organization promotional event organized by the Town of Lloyd Events Committee.
Bob Shepard Highland Landing Park was the recipient of several big paydays. Steve Rosenberg and Seth McKee of Scenic Hudson presented the town board with a check for $275,000 in February. The New York Department of State has released its promised $911,904 Local Waterfront Revitalization Program grant in September. Supervisor Costantino proposed to reserve three capital reserve funds created by PUD and Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) recreation fees: one for general recreation purposes, one for the Hudson Valley Rail Trail and one for Highland Landing. After some tweaking by the town board, it resolved to split future rec fees 50-25-25.
Beyond Memorial Day and Veterans Day, Lloyd took time to honor native sons and daughters who served and are serving in the United States Armed Forces. In March, the town board unanimously approved a proposal by Charles Alonge of Rolling Thunder -- that three Highland streets be dedicated in memory to three fallen soldiers. On July 4, Grand Street was dedicated to Sgt. Eugene Williams; Haviland Road to Cpl. Michael Oremus; and Milton Avenue to Spc. Doron Chan. Signs featuring their names and the Purple Heart are posted at the ends of each road.
Going into 2011, the Highland Public Library Board of Directors must turn the page on a move to Commercial Avenue. On Dec. 14, residents of Highland said no to a $6.59-million bond resolution to purchase and renovate a 11,440-sq.ft. industrial warehouse owned by Matt Smith, 716 to 811.