P.O. Box 700

Port Ewen, NY 12466

Zoning Board of Appeals


                   845-331-8630                                                                    Fax 845-331-8634





                                   TOWN OF ESOPUS ZONING BOARD OF APPEALS

                                              Minutes of the June 21, 2011 Meeting





CALL TO ORDER:  Chairman, Don Cole, called the meeting to order at 7:30 pm.





Present:  Vic Barranca, Joe Guido, Kathy Kiernan, Linda Smythe, Karl Wick and Don Cole

Excused:  Rob Hare

Also present were Gloria VanVliet, Albert Karnath, Chris Smailer and Pamela Hartford.



Vic made a motion to approve the minutes of the May 17, 2011 meeting as submitted.  Seconded by Karl.  All in favor.



Kathy made a motion to approve the voucher for secretarial work.  Seconded by Vic.   All in favor.



        1. Mordecai Peleg                           Area Variance

                                                                          9 Chambers Road                        80.01-3-25



Pamela Hartford, landscape designer, is representing the applicant who is requesting a variance to allow guest parking spaces to be within the 50 yard setback required.  Albert Karnath, a neighbor who lives at 1685 Broadway, is present to address the Board with his concerns. 

Mr. Karnath owns a home which is on his property line with Peleg.  He claims that the proposed parking will be too close to his tenants’ yard where their children play.  He is in favor of Plan A,

which was the parking originally approved by the TOE Planning Board.  He stated that he is does

not like the idea of having a parking lot 10 feet away from where his tenants’ sit outside their home.   When asked what he would suggest, Mr. Karnath stated that he would like the 50 foot setback, which is the law, or go back to Plan A.   He feels it is more convenient to the private road, Chambers Road, and it would be easier to get in and out.  Another concern of his is the removal of snow when there is only 10 feet.  


Ms. Hartford stated that the applicant is trying to bring the parking around to where the cars came historically so that the clients can come to the front door, which is facing the south of the property.  She showed the Board old photos of the house and the entrance and described the proposed plan.  Applicant is trying to minimize the visual impact of the cars for the neighbors and the road.  The plan is to have 6 parking spots for guests down a slope and screened by a huge canopy of trees so that the neighbors cannot see the cars from their house.  There is a planting plan which would have a large number of evergreens and understory shrubs to create a buffer between the parking spaces and the neighbor’s tenant’s house.  They are removing some of the weed trees that are there now so that this planting plan can be implemented which would improve the screening of the parking area.  Ms. Hartford stated that she is requesting that the Board allow the parking area to be 15 feet from the property line.  She stated that 15 feet would put the cars right at the edge of the drip line of the trees and tucking them away from view of the street and the clients. 


Ms. Hartford stated that the original plan would create a huge asphalt parking lot with guests carrying their bags a farther distance to the entrance to the house. She explained how this plan is unbuildable because of the grade at this part of the property.  A surveyor drew in this parking plan last year when applicant went in front of the Planning Board for approval in order to get a bank loan.   Her goal is to distribute the parking spaces around the lot and not have a huge parking lot.  Six spots are needed for the guests who will be coming only on weekends.


Ms. Hartford described the different scenarios created with placing the parking at different distances from the property line.  She feels that while these scenarios may get the parking farther away, they do not create any privacy and the cars will not be screened effectively. 


Joe asked what would prevent her from using a different area for the parking spots and she explained that she is trying to change the topography as little as possible and to keep the parking out of the view of the windows.  She explained how changing her proposed plan would create a very difficult situation (of planting) and wouldn’t serve Mr. Karnath’s purpose of protecting his tenants.  She said that the only thing that would protect the tenants is planting the right materials and having the cars close to them and covered with canopy is the best way to screen his neighbors from these cars.


Mr. Karnath suggested a ten foot fence to block the view of the cars.  Chairman Cole stated that a ten foot fence is illegal.


Ms. Hartford made available her planting list and explained the method of planting different shrubs and trees so that there are two levels of screening-at 10 feet high and a canopy further up.  Mr. Karnath stated that he doubts if all that planting can be done within 10 feet and Ms. Hartford stated that she is asking for an allowance of 15 feet from the line.  He thinks that more space is needed to screen.


Another of Mr. Karnath’s concerns is that the applicant may say that guests will come only on weekends, but that may change.  If the property is sold, the new owners will not be bound by the weekend factor. 


Joe asked if applicant could have the parking area 20 feet from the property line.  Ms. Hartford said that would be possible.   She is trying not to block an entrance for the guests, but she can adapt.   She asked Mr. Karnath if 20 feet would be alright and he replied, “Thirty feet would be better, forty would be appropriate, fifty would be the law.”


Kathy asked if the boxwood garden is existing and Mr. Hartford said yes, the previous owner had planted two boxwood gardens which are overgrown.  There is also a fountain.


Chairman Cole asked Ms. Hartford if she would be able to work with 20 feet and she replied that she could.  He asked the Board what they thought and Joe said that he would be more apt to allow 20 feet than 15.  He stated that he would like to go to the property and look.


Discussion followed regarding traffic flow, how guests would enter the house, snow removal and views from the windows, with Ms. Hartford explaining her proposals.  She explained that her plan allows her to distribute 11 spaces throughout the property instead of a big lot and that she would not have to do any major changes to grade or build a retaining wall.   Her plan calls for gravel instead of asphalt for the parking areas which is better for drainage and the environment and is reversible.  Mr. Karnath re-stated his concern that the parking be moved as far away as possible from where his tenants live and their children play. 


Ms. Hartford stated that she is committed to planting as a visual screening and she can work with a distance of 20 feet from the property line.  She feels that the plan for a larger asphalt parking lot in another area of the property is inappropriate given that the goal is to keep the property residential-looking.  “It doesn’t help this house keep its residential presence on the street.”


Joe asked if any of the Board members had looked at the property.  None of them had walked the property. 


Linda said she would like to see the property also and asked if other plans would be possible

Ms. Hartford replied that the viable options have been discussed and anything other than what applicant is proposing would necessitate a fairly significant change in the topography and it would change the presentation of the site of the house.


Linda stated that the massage school down the road has an atrocious parking situation and she wants to avoid another. 


Joe asked for Ms. Hartford’s phone number and asked her to mark the property line and the parking area.  Her cell number is 978-490-7441.  She lives in Boston and when working in the Hudson Valley, she stays in Danbury, Connecticut.  She mentioned that the owners were out of the country and back after the fourth of July.  She will have the property marked off by Thursday.


Vic asked Mr. Karnath what is reasonable to you as a neighbor.  “What is the reasonable figure?”

Mr. Karnath replied that he could live with 30-40. 


Chairman Cole asked that the Board visit the property.  He closed the public hearing for Peleg at 8:10 pm. and asked Ms. Hartford to return on July 19 for the decisional meeting.



05-17-11-02                                                      Lifespire, Inc.                          Area Variance

                                                                          315 James Street                     56.15-1-1.116


Chairman Cole mentioned that there were no neighbors present with concerns or comments.

Chris Smailer from Scott Dutton Associates is representing Lifespire.  Karl had asked for setbacks of neighboring structures and Mr. Smailer handed this out to the Board.  He stated that they prepared a snapshot of the area neighborhood properties and what their respective setbacks are from pavement to the house which is what they are comparing their house to.   The applicant wants to place the house with a 33 foot setback from the edge of the pavement to the house.


Mr. Smailer stated that the variance request is to place the house with a front yard setback of 15 feet instead of the 30 feet required by zoning ordinance.   The request for the variance is to serve two purposes.  1.  Moving the house closer to the road allows for improved traffic circulation around the house from the parking lot; allows for ingress and egress on different sides of the driveway; eliminates backing up on the road. 


2. “In reviewing the situation and looking at the character and the nature of the surrounding neighborhoods, because the property line is 15 feet off the road, we still end up with a 30 foot front yard in front of the house”.  This is fairly prominent throughout the community.  The new house would not be an oddity, but would fit in with the character of the surrounding houses.


Karl mentioned that the areas on the handout circled in red, which list the average setback of the houses in that circle, are not direct adjoining neighbors.  He asked if there were other houses in the area.  Mr. Smailer replied that it was hard to evaluate many of the houses in the same way because many of them appear to be on trailer lots.  They are on-end and it is hard to know which is the front.  He said they were all very close to the roadway, much less than 30 feet.  When they did the comparison, they tried to compare houses that were similar to their proposed house.  Similar in style, not size. 


Mr. Smailer stated that another positive on this site is the fact that there are vacant lots next to it which are not  buildable lots.   The empty lots create a permanent buffer for the house and the surrounding properties  that will never change.  He stated that what this scenario essentially does is allow them to have the proposed driveway.  If they had to meet the 30 foot setback, due to the grades and the retaining wall that would have to be built, the secondary access would not be feasible. 


Chairman Cole mentioned that it is a better situation to have separate ingress and egress and Karl added, “especially in emergency situations”.


Kathy made a motion to close the public hearing.  Seconded by Karl.  All in favor.


MOTION:  Karl made a motion to allow a front yard setback of 15 feet for this structure.  This is a variance of 15 feet from the required 30 feet.  Seconded by Linda.



Karl – I vote in favor.  I think it’s a very well thought out plan.  It’s a very workable plan.  It doesn’t change the character of the neighborhood – really doesn’t harm anything.  The benefit to the applicant is great.


Vic – I would say the same thing.  Being a resident of Connelly, I know what you have to deal with as far as space constraints.  I think it’s a well thought out plan especially the egress.


Don – I vote in favor.


 Kathy – I vote in favor for the reasons already stated.


Joe – I vote in favor of this because of the topography, egress and ingress, and with the nature of the people who are there being elderly and bedridden, it’s good to have an entrance and an exit.


Linda – I vote in favor because there is nobody here that is objecting so it must be fine.



Chairman Cole asked if anyone was interested in going to any of the workshops and conferences that they were notified about.  Vic asked if we could get one here and Don said they will come in time.


Joe made a motion to adjourn the meeting.  Seconded by Kathy.  All in favor.


Meeting adjourned at 8:21 pm.



Respectfully submitted,



Joan Boris, Secretary

Zoning Board of Appeals