A proposal to build a Mavis Tire store in the historic district of Hyde Park met with stiff opposition from neighborhood residents — and has now been put on hold.
The hold was requested by the applicant, Goddard Development Partners, whose owner said the firm was looking around town for possible alternate locations and would make a decision within 30 days.
The property is owned by Getty Realty Corp. but is under contract to Goddard Development, which is based in Mountainville, N.Y.
“What we’ve decided to do is take account of the direction the planning process is going in. It certainly isn’t a direction we expected,” owner Adrian Goddard told The Observer last week.
Goddard Development had applied in December 2012 to build a seven-bay Mavis Discount Tire center on Route 9 at the corner of Albertson Street on the site of a former Getty gas station. The location is in the “Town Center Historic District” zone, two blocks from Town Hall and close to the Regina Coeli Roman Catholic church and the Hyde Park United Methodist church.
After the proposal was reviewed in January and May by town planners, who requested more data on noise impact, a group of concerned residents began to actively oppose the idea.
The group included Robert Sweet, of Sweet Family Funeral Homes, which is across Albertson Street from the site. Sweet told The Observer that when he and his neighbors heard more detail on the project at the May 15 planning board meeting, they decided to generate a petition. So they went door to door within their ward, Ward 2, which surrounds the site, and gathered just under 300 signatures from concerned residents.
“We knew we didn’t want it…and everything that came with it–the noise, the traffic–coming into our quiet neighborhood. The support [for our petition] was overwhelming,” Sweet said.
Sweet submitted the petition to the planning board in June, and they in turn gave the petition to Goddard Development.
“I think, hopefully, it’s made them reconsider,” Sweet said.
Goddard said the public opposition to the plan surprised him, because he thought the updated plans reflected what the planning board had requested, including the concerns about aesthetics and noise.
“This is a project which was designed to look like the Bellefield carriage house [in Hyde Park] at the suggestion of someone on the planning board. It was fully zoning compliant, required no variances, and was replacing a derelict gas station. So it’s extraordinary that that would be a problem,” Goddard said.
Goddard said he believes Robert Sweet may have opposed the project because the funeral home has used the abandoned gas station lot for overflow parking during services “for a decade or so.”
However, Sweet said that the parking was not the reason he got involved.
“I would certainly acknowledge that I have been the beneficiary of an empty lot. I’m not the only local business that…has been using the lot. That’s really not the issue. A seven-bay Mavis Tire store is a poor use of that property. It’s not the right area in our town for that type of business,” Sweet said.
The original site plan submitted late in December called for removing the gas station canopy and booth to construct a 6,136 sq. ft. building and parking lot on the .57 acre site. The building would house a tire and auto repair center with the bay doors facing Route 9; the back of the site would be screened with landscaping and fencing. The plan met all the bulk regulations for the zoning district.
Town planners, according to minutes of the Jan. 16 meeting, were concerned about noise issues and requested that the applicant produce a noise impact study specific to Hyde Park. The applicant had already submitted noise studies on two existing Mavis outlets at other locations.
The Hyde Park noise study was submitted to town planners at the May 15 meeting. However, the board felt more data should be collected, so they apparently requested a revised study that would include further testing of noise levels if not all the bay doors were closed.
The application was to be reviewed again at the July meeting of the planning board, which has final say on the project. But Goddard Development asked that its item be removed from the agenda.
In June, the Dutchess County Department of Development and Planning issued a conditional approval for the site plan as long as the parking spaces and tire bays were moved behind the building and off Albertson St.
But in their letter to the Hyde Park planning board, the county planners also noted that although this type of use is permitted within the Town Center Historic District, many of the existing business and homes in the area would be negatively impacted. The area includes more than a dozen properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Goddard said his company would decide what to do with the application within the next 30 days.
“We want to do a facility in Hyde Park because there’s a need there. I think it’s a useful community service…There may be one or two alternative locations. This one made a lot of sense, being zoned on Route 9 in what appears to be a suitable location, and also the notion of replacing a derelict gas station with an expensive, new building just seemed logical,” he said.
Town Supervisor Aileen Rohr said the public input was an important part of the planning process. “It’s a controversial application because it’s in a historical area of the town. I think it’s very beneficial for the public to weigh-in on it. I think [the petition] had an effect on why the developer decided to look at other locations,” she said.
She added that she thought town planners would weigh the community character, the noise impact and the public controversy in their decision on the application if the process continues.
Sweet said that he and other petitioners are not completely opposed to a Mavis in Hyde Park, as long as it’s located somewhere else.
“The overall consensus was, we’re certainly not against business coming to Hyde Park. We just think there should be some appropriate planning, and we just don’t think that this location–sandwiched between two churches, across from a quaint little family-owned motel, and next door to our funeral home–is the right location for that project. There’s a place for Mavis, it’s just not here,” he said.
Sweet said he has learned a lot through the experience. “Ultimately, what we’ve learned through this is that our area in the historic part of Hyde Park is pretty much wide open for any type of business. Which means in the long run, even if we get Mavis to go to a different location, if we don’t address the zoning in our part of town for the long run, we may have other unwanted development coming to this part of town or any other part of town where the zoning may be too general,” he said.