Store plan must study need for light

CRARYVILLE—How will a new proposed gas station/convenience store impact traffic at the intersection of state Route 23, county Route 7 and Craryville Road?

A traffic study is expected to shed some light on whether a traffic signal will be needed there.

GRJH, Inc., has an application before the Copake Planning Board seeking site plan approval for a new gas station/convenience store on the northwest corner of the intersection on the 1.7-acre parcel where the old Craryville supermarket once stood. Craryville is a hamlet in the Town of Copake.

Neighbors and other area residents have expressed concerns about the store, saying it will generate increased traffic at an already dangerous intersection. Barbara Smith, a Craryville Road resident, brought her concerns to the Town Board back in November 2017 and asked the board to make a formal request of the state Department of Transportation (DOT) that a traffic study be conducted there to assess the need for a traffic light. She also presented the board with a list of 62 names and addresses of Hillsdale and Copake residents seeking a “safety analysis.”

She pointed out in a letter submitted to the Town Board, that Route 23 is “a major state road between Hudson and Great Barrington, [MA] and is heavily travelled by interstate trucking.”

In response to her request, Copake Supervisor Jeff Nayer wrote a letter dated December 15, 2017 to the DOT Regional Director, that said many residents who travel through the intersection regularly are “extremely concerned about the increased traffic due to vehicles pulling in and out of this site…”

The supervisor noted that a new store that houses a restaurant-type business on the northeast side of the intersection will be opening soon (Homestead Market); the Craryville Post Office on the northwest side of the intersection adds to traffic concerns; morning and afternoon traffic is already an issue as buses from the Taconic Hills School travel State Route 23; and summer traffic will increase with area second homeowners passing through that intersection.

He said the town requests a traffic study to determine the need for a traffic light.

DOT Acting Regional Director Lance MacMillan, PE, responded in a February 16 letter saying, “We will require a traffic study to determine any traffic impacts related to this development. The study will necessarily include analysis to determine if signalization at the intersection is warranted.”

The study, to be conducted by the applicant’s engineering firm, is requested by DOT under the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) Act and is a requirement for the DOT’s review of the applicant’s Highway Work Permit Application.

DOT asked that the town, as lead agency under SEQR, also require the study.

The project applicant, GRJH is associated with the Cobble Pond Farms chain of gas station/convenience stores. Alicia Metz is president of the 23-year-old privately-held wholesale gasoline and oil company based in Sharon, CT.

The proposal initially came before the Town Zoning Board of Appeals roughly a year ago for a special use permit, which was granted. The matter is now undergoing a site plan review by the Planning Board. The location is in a B-2 Zoning District, which indicates Highway Business.

The site is between the Craryville United Methodist Church on the east and the Craryville Post Office on the west.

The proposal is for a 3,240 square-foot store with 48 parking spaces and three islands with two-gas pumps each. Entrances to the new store will be from Craryville Road, a town road, and from State Route 23.

Copake Planning Board Chairman Bob Haight told The Columbia Paper this week that the applicant is now conducting a traffic study. He said having the applicant do the study, which is then reviewed by DOT engineers, is standard procedure.

He said the study will look at existing traffic volume hourly, traffic patterns and estimate the additional traffic generated in and out of the new station/store and the soon-to-open Homestead Market, formerly Random Harvest, just east of the intersection. “It’s all estimates, it can’t be exact,” he said.

In recent months the applicant has modified the design of the building in response to comments by both the public and the board and has given it a “more colonial sort of look” to blend in with surrounding buildings, Mr. Haight said. Though he has not seen final plans yet, he understands from talks with the applicant, that the co-vendor/drive-through-window part of the project will be deleted.

The applicant will not appear at the Planning Board’s April 5 meeting, but will appear at board’s May 3 meeting with the completed traffic study, Mr. Haight said.

To contact Diane Valden email

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