Village Board, Red Swan Inn applicants differ on next step

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:45

    WARWICK-The village and organizers of the Red Swan Inn project have hit a snag. The Village Board and its attorney, Michael Meth, want to move to the next step in the process, which would mean hiring planners to come up with a scoping document. That document would serve as a table of contents for what will eventually be the project's Environmental Impact Statement. That didn't sit well with Steven Spiegel, the attorney for the Red Swan Inn project. Spiegel said that is not the process that should be followed, saying the questions that would be addressed in a scoping document should not be done until the Planning Board gives the project a site plan review, something that is way down the road. Meth disagreed. He said that the Red Swan Inn petition definitely requires a type 1 State Environmental Quality Review, which would require a scoping document. "I don't know if it does require a type 1 review," Spiegel said. "This board has other alternatives. I just want to follow a process and procedure. Rushing to the DEIS is not appropriate or required by law." Last year, Spiegel and a group of others, many of them local residents, applied to the Village of Warwick to create a floating hospitality zone in order to build the new Red Swan Inn, resurrecting the original Red Swan Inn, which was built at the turn of the 20th century. It was located on the property where the Warwick Country Club now sits and was destroyed by fire in the 1950s. Now, the Village Board wants to move to the next step, which would mean both sides hiring a planner and coming up with the scop That is where the disagreement comes in. The village also has reviewed its zoning regulations, making suggestions to bring it into compliance with the newly adopted Comprehensive Master Plan. In order to adopt those changes, the village must hold public hearings and go through an entire SEQR process for that, which could be very time consuming. In its discussion Monday night, board members and Meth agreed that the zoning changes should be completed before delving into the Red Swan request. "This should not all be happening at once," said Mayor Michael Newhard. "We should have the zoning code done first, then do this application." That is not how Spiegel sees it. He said it would be unfair to make the project organizers wait for the zoning project to be completed. As a matter of fact, he said he was told by the board that this project would not be delayed until the new zoning is adopted. The nearly 11-acre property, which was the Welling Farm, is now in a residential zone. To build this project, a new zone, which is being called a hospitality zone, would have to be created. Then a zone change, from residential to hospitality, would be necessary. If the scoping document is the next step, both the village and the developer would hire a planner who would determine what should be included in the environmental impact statement—water, sewer, traffic, schools, drainage, sanitation, fire, police and other aspects. The two scopes would be combined and given to the public for review. When that is deemed complete, work on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement would begin. Demetroules, R.E., LLC is the company behind the Red Swan Inn. It is owned by Michael S. Demetroules, a lifelong Village of Warwick resident and direct descendent of Thomas Welling, who founded the Welling farm in 1750. The vision of the Red Swan Inn is as a catering facility, restaurant, and conference facility, along with retail shops within walking distance of downtown Warwick.