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The Thurston Administration is enforcing the developer’s wish list of modifications or changes to the zoning laws of Wappinger which would entirely alter “Shopping Center” districts to turn into villages within a village developing four-story apartment projects which would increase density and add more industrial uses in the zone. The core objective of this project is the BJ’s Warehouse (Alpine Commons) shopping center.

Mr. Alexander, the attorney who was in charge to represent this controversial project for The Tractor Supply, presented at the recent meeting of the Town of Wappinger pleading sweeping changes to the Wappinger Zoning Laws enabling four-story apartment facilities in Shopping Center Districts. This proposal would result in more residential uses and density within the Shopping Center district.

The Petitioner is proposing changes to the Schedule of the use of legislation in regards to the permitted users in the Shopping Center (SC) district. This would modify Shopping Center districts moving forward and would contribute to the development of the concept of “Village within a Village” all across the town.

In particular, the discussion of light manufacturing uses to reinforce the SC zone such as distilleries, breweries, and 3D painting labs will enhance the potential uses.

Apart from the uses, the concerns can be the automobile-centric uses which may be at odds with the proposal of the residential elements which entail motor-vehicle rental, motor-vehicle storage, and motor-vehicle sales.

 The new regulation will also expand certain which are not presently allowed such as;

Other uses proposed include veterinarian offices, both with and without outdoor runs, and warehouse and self-storage use. Finally, the proposal of hotels and motels, which are currently only allowed in the Highway Business (HB) and Conservation Office Park (COP) zoning districts, is an interesting idea and one that might call for the revision of how hotels and motels are zoned Town-wide. The Town Board could take into consideration the motel and hotel-specific permit which applies to more zoning districts but with use-specific standards. Usually, this kind of project requires additional height to maintain financial sustainability which can be allowed with certain performance criteria to mitigate the visual impact.

Dimensional Regulations

The Petitioner has summoned increases in multiple current dimensional regulations for the SC zoning district. This entails;

  • Increase in housing density from RMF3 to RMF5 (Multifamily 5 units)
  • Increase in Floor Area Ratio (FAR) from 0.3 to 0.6
  • Increase in building height from 2.5 stories or 35 ft. to 4 stories or 55 ft.

Mr. Alexander appeared to talk about Alpine Commons (BJs). He gave an idea to repurpose the empty retail space for a retail warehouse self-storage area labeled as number 2, changing the zone from the Shopping Centre zone to Highway Business.

A man named Ted came to explain adding young worker housing consisting of 144 units labeled as Section 5 outside the limits of parking lots and existing buildings. They are requesting to loosen up the Special Use of Permits in the Shopping Centre (SC) zone and convert it to the Highway Business residential multi-family, with four 36 unit buildings. Brian from Dakota Properties came to explain these types of apartment projects. This one will have 144 multifamily apartments, the section labeled number one (1), will be rezoned to residential one R-20, section 6 is planned for a Hotel, section 4 is planned for a gas station. Section 3 is planned to get rezoned to Highway Business.

This is clearly a SPOT zone disguised as a mall modification. The goal here is to add more housing on undisturbed land. There are 244 units plus approximately 80 more units on the proposed R-20 rezone, i.e. the Large Section labeled number 1. It is uncertain to receive a Negative Declaration from the planning board.

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