Zoning board of appeals overrules Dutchess County to allow Stewart’s setback variance
Stewart’s at 7710 South Main St. in Pine Plains. Photo courtesy Daisy Sindelar, new Pine Plains herald

Zoning board of appeals overrules Dutchess County to allow Stewart’s setback variance

PINE PLAINS —  With a 4-1 vote on Monday, April 24, the Pine Plains Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA) has granted the Stewart’s Shops at 7710 South Main St. a front yard setback variance for a proposed 4,000 square-foot Stewart’s, overcoming a determination by the Dutchess County Planning Department that the proposal is not in keeping with the character of the town.

The plans will next go to the Pine Plains Planning Board for approval on Wednesday, May 10, which will give the project a broader look.

Necessary to grant under Pine Plains’ zoning laws, which do not allow businesses to be set back more than 25 feet from their property lines, the variance will allow Stewart’s to build its new store up to 163.5 feet from the road (the current store is 104.5 feet from the road), and place its new gas pumps in the front of the new building.

The current store and gas pumps will remain available while the new store is built, after which point gas will become unavailable for one month. Without the variance, Stewart’s alternative plans were to place its new pumps in the rear of the building, a process that would cause gas services to become unavailable for closer to three months, according to Marcus Andrews, a project manager for Stewart’s.

Dissent to the generally favorable opinions of the proposal was voiced by Scott Chase, the ZBA chairman, who argued that granting the variance would directly contradict Pine Plains’ 2019 Comprehensive Plan, as well as current zoning laws, and that there were alternative building plans Stewart’s could pursue.

ZBA member Carl Baden had recused himself from the vote due to his business ties with Stewart’s, and an additional member had been added to allow the possibility of a majority plus one vote (a stipulation required by Dutchess County for an overrule).

Under the proposed plans, additional services offered by Stewart’s would include low-flow diesel, which would not accommodate use by trucks and larger vehicles. Rich Jewett, manager of the Pine Plains Stewart’s, spoke during public comment to indicate that diesel was an often-requested service by the community, and that a “nice new store for the community, with the looks of a new store, with new landscaping and everything” would represent an investment in the community by Stewart’s.

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