The New Paltz Village Planning Board last week approved an application to convert an existing single-family residence to a two-family residence, but some neighbors are concerned about what the change might mean for the neighborhood.
The 2,238 square foot home owned by Jon Lazar sits on a 0.38 acre lot at the corner of North Manheim Boulevard and Henry W. DuBois Drive. In the plans submitted, the two levels of the house would be separated into a pair of units, with a garage for each.
The first floor would feature a three-bedroom unit with two bathrooms, kitchen, dining room and living room, and include access to an existing terrace of nearly 213 square feet.
The basement would be converted into a one bedroom unit with a living room and a small kitchen. The construction of a new 1,071 square foot bluestone patio in the basement is also planned.
Between each of the attached one-car garages in the plan and an existing two-car garage at the edge of the driveway, there is enough covered parking to accommodate four cars, one for the number of bedrooms proposed. Two more parking spaces in the driveway are also possible.
The scheme has already been before the Ulster County Planning Board, which has seen no impact at county level. But two neighbors of the 38 North Manheim Boulevard property shared concerns about the impact of the approval of splitting the house into two rental units on neighboring landlords, especially in a college town.
“There’s no ordinance that says you can’t, as far as I know, rent to students, but the ever-increasing student population is getting quite heavy for a number of factors,” the neighbor said. Lecia Zulak. “Noise level, parking issues, just overall I would call it a disarray. Garbage is often left out… property not maintained.
Neighboring owner Barbara Holt shared similar apprehensions.
“I really don’t like the idea of a really nice family-style house that two people are really working on to make sure it’s turned into a multi-dwelling, and I don’t think there’s a reason to that,” Holt said, “I don’t know what the balance between families and students is in our block right now, but where possible we’d like to shift the balance more toward families. It is a well-known fact that student houses are not as well maintained as rental houses in general.
Holt added that street parking, where there are no sidewalks, is already difficult for local residents who must navigate traffic on foot.
“I’m strongly against turning this lovely home into a two-family residence,” Holt said. “I don’t know what his plans would be, if he would use Airbnb or what, but I don’t approve of that.”
Zulak added that she was concerned that the drainage from the bluestone patio was sending water towards her property, but said that she spoke to Lazar and was assured that it would not be a problem, not only with the eventual design, but also with the edge of the patio being 25 feet from the lot line.
Later in the meeting, Lazar pointed out that he would be willing to consider altering the plans for the patio, including what it’s made of, to ensure it wouldn’t present a drainage problem for neighbors.
“I don’t have a decision at the moment, but if it helps the app, then, you know, we’re open to doing something that’s… less waterproof, as well as the gravel under the bluestone. We are indifferent to it as long as the cobblestones are in blue stone.
Planning Board members have agreed to conditionally approve the plans in part with the stipulation that potential patio drainage is satisfactorily addressed with the inclusion of a permeable surface of gravel under the bluestone pavers to aid in the drainage.
“If it’s not going to be a hardship for the claimant, then more drainage is better,” council chairman John Litton said. “I think it will also be very helpful in terms of your neighbor who has concerns about the drainage, and it might just alleviate some of those concerns.”
Litton also addressed other neighbours’ concerns, while adding that they were outside the jurisdiction of the Planning Board.
“The amount of non-owner-occupied housing is leaning heavily towards majority versus owner-occupied, and that’s been happening for many years,” he said. “This is something that may need to be addressed directly to the village council rather than the planning council. Our job is to make sure that they comply with the regulations that are stipulated.