Ryley O’Connor’s plans to build an auto repair shop on High Falls Road drew opposition, but also some defense during a public hearing at the Saugerties Town Planning Council meeting on Tuesday May 17 . O’Connor planned to build an auto repair shop on the High Falls Road and moved his business there from the shop where he now works on Route 32 and Harry Wells Road. Several neighbors said the business would bring noise, traffic and a large, unsightly building to their peaceful.
The proposed building is 60ft wide by 125ft long with a 20ft by 30ft extension for offices, engineer Richard Rothe said. “This is an existing business, located at the corner of Route 32 and the Harry Wells Trailhead.” O’Connor rents the building and he wants to have his own building, Rothe said. “He wants to offer the same kind of services that he offers now, which is to repair all types of vehicles.”
In describing the project, Rothe said he met Ryley O’Connor about 10 or 12 years ago when his trailer brakes locked up. As he tried unsuccessfully to free them, “the next thing I knew, this kid shows up with a hammer in his hands; he crawls under my trailer, starts braking and releases the brakes for me. I didn’t know him. not at the time. I walked out and thanked him. Since then I have known him very well. At that time he was in his twenties.” O’Connor was working for Montano’s then and had a small business on the side, Rothe said, “and he said to me, ‘I’d like to start my own business, but there’s a lot of people who put me off. I could tell by his work ethic and drive that he would succeed no matter what he wanted to do. Rothe advised him to go ahead with his business.
Pat Melville said the business Ryley owns on Route 32 “doesn’t belong in this neighborhood. And I’m sure none of you would let it be put next to your house. I don’t get it with the zoning that he could put a building like that there. The project would “destroy the value of my property in the trash”, he said. He also said he was concerned that the lighting of another nearby building from being dazzling and distracting Rothe responded that the proposed lighting for O’Connor’s business is shielded to direct light downwards and the area is zoned for the type of business When buying a property, you should be aware of the zoning of the area “and the uses permitted in that area”.
Melville said the zoning was different when he bought his property and it changed without telling him. It was a trade highway, which Rothe said allowed the kind of business O’Connor was proposing, but Melville insisted there were more restrictions on the business within the framework. of the old zoning. He said people on High Falls Road could expect to see a messy building and abandoned cars, similar to O’Connor’s existing business on Route 32. “Everyone on the road is furious “, did he declare. “Are we going to benefit from a tax reduction?
Another neighbor, who identified herself only as Toni, said she had similar concerns. After seeing the existing store, she said, “I’d be mortified to have anyone even come to my house.” The road is narrow and the bend is dangerous, says Toni; a repair shop would increase traffic and make the road more dangerous.
Joe Puma, who lives on Route 32 near O’Connor’s existing store, said that while he feels for the neighbors who are concerned, “I’m more concerned about America and the people of Saugerties myself. This young man has built a business that we can all be proud of. He’s trying to start a business to support our neighborhood here. O’Connor, he said, is doing something more young people should be doing: starting a business that serves people. “We should support someone like that. There’s no one better than him to show what Saugerties is all about, build a business, and support the neighborhood. Shame on us if we don’t.
Puma’s opinion was not shared by the neighbors who spoke. Bob Melville said the building would block neighbors’ views and reduce property values. Like several others, he argued that his taxes should be reduced because the value of his property would be reduced if the proposed repair business was built. “Now that we’re entering our retirement years, we’re going to have to listen to the air compressors and the trucks and bang.”
Several people asked if O’Connor was present at the meeting. He identified himself and said the shop “wouldn’t look terrible”. He acknowledged that a building doesn’t look good the way it is being built, but “we’ll do our best to make it look as good as possible, and I guarantee it will be a lot more beautiful than most of High Falls Road.”
Neighbors immediately began to argue with him, citing noise and traffic as concerns. O’Connor replied that it will be close to Route 32, “so most of the route won’t notice the traffic.”
Planning Council Chairman Howard Post commented: “This is a public hearing, and the Planning Council is trying to get public input so that we can take your comments into account as we review this request. It’s turning into an argument, and we’re not going to have that.
Joe Cimorelli noted that Steyer’s Garage is in a residential area, “so how is that different?”
Melville countered that Steyer’s had been in its location for a long time and that the nearby houses were built after it was already there. A metal building is ugly, he said.
Puma thanked the board for hearing the opinions and said he tried to follow the rules and wait to be recognized before speaking. He reiterated that O’Connor is trying to build a business that will benefit everyone in the area. He suggested that if people had a problem with O’Connor’s plans, they should talk to him. “I’m sure he would pay attention to your needs,” Puma said, adding that he had seen some of the trailers on High Falls Road, and “His building will look a lot better than that.”
Another speaker chastised Puma for his description of the mobile homes he saw; she denied that people were attacking Ryley O’Connor; but were rather critical of his business.
The Commission was about to close the public hearing, but planning consultant Adriana Beltrani suggested that unless the claimant was confident that they could get all outstanding questions answered, it might make sense to keep open. The Commission has decided to keep the hearing open.
Rothe objected, saying there weren’t many outstanding comments and everything had been addressed. Beltrani said a number of things still need to be addressed, including landscaping, lighting, stormwater, parking and a number of operational issues.
Post said that in light of the list of open questions, it might be wise to keep the public hearing open; Roth reiterated his disagreement with this suggestion. A Commission poll showed a clear majority in favor of keeping the hearing open.
Planning Council Secretary Becky Bertorelli said the Seniors Center will not be available on the evening of the regular Council meeting next month; the date of the meeting will be changed and those interested should check the City’s website for the exact date.