Yesterdays gets approval for new site

Neighbors vow to fight the construction in court

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By Linda Smith Hancharick

— The Village of Warwick Planning Board has approved the application for Yesterdays Restaurant and Bar to be built at 16 Elm Street.

The issue, though, is not over as far as some residents are concerned. “We are planning to sue,” said Gedge Driscoll, one of the organizers of nearby residents.

The projectChristison has owned and run Yesterdays on Main Street since 1984. He said he’s long outgrown the space and looked for another location within the village when he saw the property on Elm Street, owned by members of the Petrucci family, former owners of Country Chevy back in December 2016. The property is zoned light industrial, which allows restaurants. He decided to proceed with the planning process and purchase of the property.

The plan is for a 3,600-square-foot restaurant and bar with 2,000 extra square feet of outdoor deck seating on just over three acres of property. Christison made changes to the plans in January, including lowering light poles to 14 feet, removing outdoor speakers and a patio, moving HVAC equipment further away from residences and limiting seating outdoors to 9 p.m.

Not enough for the neighborsDriscoll said the group was disappointed in the planning board’s decision but knew it was coming.

“We’ve gone to all planning board meetings, holding signs because we weren’t allowed to speak except at the public hearing,” said Driscoll, a former teacher in the Warwick Valley School District who has lived on Van Buren Street for 28 years. “It was outrageous the way SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review) was answered. ‘No, the light won’t bother the residents. No, the noise won’t bother the residents.’ Of course it all will. It changes everything in our neighborhood.”

The property sits on Elm Street but reaches back to Van Buren and also boarders all of the properties on the block of West Street between Elm and Van Buren. Because parts of the property are in a flood plain, the building itself will sit at the rear of the property, backing up to homes on Van Buren Street. The home across the street from Driscoll will be about 50 feet from the building itself.

The residents are also concerned with contaminated soil from the site, which was a rail yard and paint house many years ago.

“The creek is right down there,” said Driscoll. “When they start excavating, the soil we believe is contaminated will go into the water and also become airborne.”

Christison noted that he has done soil testing at the site “that is above and beyond most measures.”

Based on the effects they expect the restaurant and bar to have on the neighborhood, the group fought the legality of it.

Conditional approvalThe planning board gave its final approval for the project on Feb. 15. The approval has several general conditions, including payment of escrow and fees, as well as specific conditions. Those conditions include:

• Granting an easement for the village to an existing drainage way;

• Limiting the second floor of the building to office use and storage;

• Not allowing temporary or partial certificates of occupancy;

• Installing privacy fencing and landscaping before the final CO is issued; and

• Setting construction hours to 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday; 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays; No construction on Sundays.

Drumming up supportThe neighbors have gathered support, both moral and financial, and are looking for more to help with the costs of a lawsuit. They’ve set up a GoFundMe page – NION-WarwickNY - to raise money for the legal battle ahead. There is also a Facebook page.

Driscoll said the group is planning to meet this weekend to come up with additional ideas to raise funds. This is not a neighborhood issue but a village issue, she said.

“This is definitely going to impact the value of our homes,” said Driscoll. “It will have an effect on neighboring streets and beyond in the village. We will just keep at it, raise the money we need and fight. That’s all we can do.”

Moving forwardChristison is ready to hit the ground running with the project. He told The Warwick Advertiser he intends to begin construction as soon as possible and hopes to have the project completed by fall.

“I have invested a great deal of time and money into this relocation,” said Christison, who said he was grateful for Yesterdays’ loyal supporters. “On a personal note, we have a long-standing reputation of investing into the Warwick community as well as the surrounding communities for over 33 years, and, for the record, we will continue to do so.”

What are your thoughts? Go to and weigh in on the issue.

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