Saturday, May 23, 2009

Who says Bruce Kazan can't build?

Rosario Agostaro of Gardiner wrote a letter to this week's issue of That Paper expressing frustration for Bruce Kazan, owner of the Main Course, in his quest to develop the property at 175 Main Street.  Rosario says:

As of this date, Mr. Kazan, a business owner for over 19 years in our community, has had to invest over $18,000 in legal fees to try to navigate through what appears as an endless nightmare of bureaucracy.  Should a respected member of the local business community be expected to support his vision at 5 separate Planning Board meetings, supported by an architect and lawyer on hand, to keep the discussion focused on the real issues of the project? Is it possible that we have a lack of communication between members of local government?
I'm not sure what Rosario is complaining about, actually.  Mr. Kazan received approval for his project months ago.  Then, he and his architect changed the plans significantly from what was approved, moving the loading from inside to outside, moving the kitchen to another location in the building, and making several windows into doors.  That all should have been included in an amended site plan application before the work started, but despite the fact that the work was well underway, the Planning Board then went ahead and approved the amended site plan.

So Bruce Kazan got his approval, built something much different than what he agreed to, and then got retroactive approval to use the new plan.  I myself was conflicted; I've stated both at public meetings and in this blog that I supported his idea, but ultimately I voted against the amended site plan because I felt that the modifications (particularly the outside loading) did not reflect the original compromise with the neighbors.  Even if the amended site plan had not been approved, Bruce would have be entitled to go ahead with his original plan.  (At that point it would have meant a lot of expensive changes to the building, but I have to think that this is the risk of making the business decision of building it before you get approval, instead of following the rules.)

The five planning board meetings Bruce attended, the time he spent drawing up plans, and the delays in getting his building to turn a profit could have been significantly reduced if he had elected to simply build what was approved in the first place.  Nobody has discouraged Bruce to act on his ideas, as Rosario claims - he's just spent a lot more time and money because he or his consultants didn't do things in the proper order.  And his plan is approved, so I don't know why this letter comes now.

Yes, there is pending litigation regarding the application (about which I will do my best not to comment), but it was brought by Mr. Kazan and any delays that result from it will be his choice.  He still is completely within his rights to finish his building and open for business.  If one of his tenants sells artisinal bread as he hopes, I will certainly patronize that business as well.  At the time, the neighbors weren't happy that I expressed a fondness for such bread, but all was forgiven when I voted against the amended site plan.  I just wish Bruce would go ahead and finish building according to his approved plan.


Anonymous said...

I'm just so excited for real bread in NP that I've been counting the seconds until he opens. I looked at his place to potentially rent a space there for chocolates, and found Bruce to be a fellow small business owner trying to do what he can to add value to our community. Of course, he shouldn't have broken the rules and built what wasn't in the original plan. But I don't understand why his neighbors aren't more excited by the prospect of walking to get gourmet good food in a truly nice-looking building (unlike some other schlocky monstrocities I could mention on Main St) than by the fact that the building will necessitate parking or have a sign or whatever it is people are so up in arms about.

Terence said...

I think that, once he's up and running, the type of business he runs might just make their concerns melt away. It would be great to see you with a storefront, too!

Anonymous said...

To the lead gadfly, sometimes it is better to consider the overall needs of the community over a few paranoid opponents to a valuable project. Shame on you for voting no on the planning board regarding this. It is a discouragement to others who want to do other improvements in New Paltz.