Amenia Planning Board hears comments on apartment plans

MILLBROOK — Public hearings were held on two plans that would create apartments at the regular meeting of the Planning Board on Monday, June 10.

One was for a proposed accessory apartment at a Maple Avenue home and the other was for a two-phase project to create additional apartments on the second floor of and behind the Reardon-Briggs hardware store on Franklin Avenue.

An overview of plans for the hardware store property, owned by Dawn Carolei, was presented by architect Steven Hackbarth of Clinton Corners. Although the public hearing was to focus on the first phase, apartments on the second floor of the hardware store, the second phase that would create four more apartments on Merritt Avenue soon became part of the discussion.

The second phase drawing the most attention would demolish an existing garage at 4 Merritt Ave. housing a modest rented apartment and replace it with a new structure containing four one-bedroom apartments. From the outside the new structure would appear to be a home with a single front entrance. The apartments would have interior entrances.

But the June 10 hearing was intended only to consider plans for the second floor of the hardware store, where two apartments are now situated adjacent to underutilized storage and inactive office space. Architect Hackbarth’s plans envision completely gutting the second floor and renovating to create one two-bedroom apartment and an additional one-bedroom apartment.

Planning board chairman Frank Redl asked about the status of the current tenants.

“They will not be able to live there,” Hackbarth replied, citing the extent of the planned renovation.

Residents’ comments continued to focus more on plans for the second phase than concerns about the hardware store apartments.

Neighbor to the Merritt Avenue structure, resident Arthur Kascsak was concerned about the new building and its potential impact on his home.

“The new structure will change the character of the village,” Kascsak said, indicating that the new building would block the view of all six windows on one side of his home. He was concerned about privacy, a decrease in value, outdoor lighting, trash handling and parking for between four and eight cars.

“Does the village really need these new apartments,” Kascsak asked.

“Of course we need more housing,” local architect Roger Bennett observed, asking about any thought given to working with the existing garage structure.

“The property could be fixed up rather than demolished,” the current tenant commented.

Another resident asked whether numerous one-bedroom apartments are really necessary in the village.

“Millbrook needs more apartments. The people who work in Millbrook should be able to live in Millbrook,” another resident said.

Redl indicated that the applicant will take into account the concerns voiced by residents at the hearing and that the first phase of the project, the hardware store apartments, will be reviewed by the Planning Board at its next meeting on Monday, July 8.

The Planning Board noted that the second phase will be the subject of a separate public hearing at a future meeting.

Accessory Apartment

An application to create an accessory apartment at a Maple Avenue home was the subject of a public hearing where neighbors spoke in favor of the plan. The application by Katherine Fitta would repurpose one bay of a generous two-car garage to create a 586 square foot apartment to accommodate a family member.

One resident expressed reservations about the plan, asking how the apartment might be used in future years.

Redl commented that the plan does not call for expanding the building. The application will be reviewed by the Planning Board at its July 8 meeting.

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