CLAVERACK–The Town Board is moving forward with proposed changes to the zoning law to add the old Claverack School building to the Hamlet Business 1 District (HB1). The property, owned by the Hudson City School District, is currently in the Hamlet Residential District and is temporarily being used as the county court while the County Courthouse in Hudson is undergoing renovations. Town Supervisor Clifford “Kippy” Weigelt said the county is expected to move out of the school building by October 25.
Claverack Town Attorney Robert Fitzsimmons said last week that the school district has an interested buyer that would use the building as a “multi-business cultivator.” But residential zoning limits commercial uses. The property borders the Hamlet Business District.
“The school does not lend itself to residential use,” Mr. Fitzsimmons said.
He added that if the town does not change the zoning of the property, it might “get stuck with an empty school building.” Including the old school in the HB1 District opens up business options for potential buyers.
The town faced a similar situation last spring, when linen manufacturer Traditions Linens made an offer for the building and asked the town to amend the zoning to permit her operations. But the sale did not happen and the town never adopted proposed zoning changes.
At last week’s Town Board meeting, Mr. Fitzsimmons said the new zoning proposal would also affect the school’s neighbor, the Peoples’ Bible Church. He said the church has not requested a new zoning designation but that parcel would also be added to the HB1 District in case the church wants to sell in the future.
Board member Katy Cashen said the interest in the school building was “exciting.”
Board member Bill Gerlach said the board “stands united” in favor of the changes.
A public hearing is being set for next month. Mr. Fitzsimmons said the proposed changes will be available on the town’s website.
Also at the July 10 board meeting, Planning Board Chair Brian Goodrich gave an update on the Ginsberg’s site plan review for expansion. The Claverack and Ghent planning boards gave the plan a negative declaration, “which means it goes forward,” he said. The next step is for the plans to go before the Zoning Board of Appeals in each of the two towns.
Last year Ginsberg’s, a regional food service company in Claverack founded in 1909, received support from the state to expand into a new, larger facility. The proposed new site is near Whittier Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing facility on state Route 66 at the border of Claverack and Ghent; about two-thirds of the acreage for the project is in Ghent. The Planning Boards of the two towns have been reviewing the plans jointly.
Ginsberg’s is seeking two site plan approvals. The first is for a “Phase 1” plan that would include the construction of a freezer to be started as soon as the company receives permits for the facility, with completion scheduled for 2015. The second phase is for a full build-out, including a warehouse to be completed by 2024.
Ginsberg’s site plans and materials can be viewed at the towns’ websites, www.townofclaverack.com and www.townofghent.org.