Public hearing tonight on challenge to Centers and Greenspaces

All eyes on Red Hook's first test of new zoning rules

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At tonight’s meeting of The Red Hook Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA), the panel responsible for interpreting the town’s zoning code will hold a public hearing on a proposed car rental and sales operation on Route 9 in town.

Under the new zoning regulations passed last year and commonly referred to as Centers and Greenspaces, the parking lot and store in question, at 7311 South Broadway, falls within the new Traditional Neighborhood Development (TND) zone.

“This is a store, it happens to sell cars,” applicant Patrick Sheehan said at the March 14 ZBA meeting where he requested an interpretation of the zoning codes that list permitted commercial uses in the TND zone. He said that his proposed business was in essence no different than the Holy Cow Ice Cream Shop further down on Route 9. Because the property is located along the already heavily traveled Route 9 and because the land has been used as a car rental location in the past, Sheehan argued that his new business would not have a negative impact on development in the TND zone.

According to members of the bipartisan Intermunicipal Task Force, which authored the zoning, the intent of the new commercial zone is to discourage sprawling commercial operations in favor of maintaining a denser small-village aesthetic similar to downtown Red Hook, Tivoli and Rhinebeck.

“When the law was passed, we expected that there would be challenges and requests for interpretations,” said former councilmember Micki Strawinski. “It is my hope that the ZBA follows the advice of our Zoning Enforcement Officer, Robert Fennell, who has already indicated that based on the law this type of business is not a permitted use in the TND. This decision by the ZBA will set a precedent for future challenges.”

The public hearing is scheduled to begin at 7:35 pm at town hall. The full meeting starts at 7 pm. It is unclear whether the ZBA will then rule on this first test of the new zoning laws.

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