“Sleeps up to 18. Right next to our brand-new sports courts & pedal kart track, Cindy Bear’s Palace is a fantastic option for a large family getaway! Live life in luxury for a great vacation! Starting at $520/night.”
So reads the Lazy River Resorts LLC website’s pitch for rental of the most capacious (and costly) option for overnight accommodation at the Yogi Bear’s Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Gardiner, N.Y., according to hudsonvalleyone.com.
Trouble is, the building at 46 Bevier Road lies on a separate parcel from the rest of the campground and hasn’t been approved for such use by the town. A legal appeal by Lazy River of a Notice of Violation (NOV) issued on July 31 by Gardiner’s building inspector/code enforcement officer, Andy Lewis, was vehemently rejected last Thursday (Oct. 3) by the Zoning Board of Appeals (ZBA).
“The inclusion of this property, and its subsequent use as part of your campground business, constitutes an unauthorized amendment to and/or expansion of your site plan, and requires approval from the town of Gardiner Planning Board,” wrote Lewis in the NOV. “To maintain compliance with the Zoning Law, you are required to immediately discontinue the business use of this property until an application for a site plan amendment has been reviewed and approved by the planning board.”
As of Sept. 30, Cindy Bear’s Palace was still actively available to rent on the resort’s website.
Lewis explained that what he accidentally discovered on an inspection of the property on July 3 — originally scheduled for a walk through of a bathhouse being constructed under a separate building permit — “took me aback.” A large tennis court, basketball court and racetrack, he found, have all appeared on the 46 Bevier Road parcel without planning board approval.
Complicating matters further, the “new adjacent recreational facility” was apparently built since the town adopted a moratorium on development or expansion of tourism-related accommodation facilities until changes to the zoning code are worked out by the town board.
Lazy River took the position that 46 Bevier Road is a “single-family dwelling with an accessory apartment” on a separate lot from the resort, being sublet as an AirBnB, and that the amenities constructed adjacent to it should not be treated as a commercial use for the campground’s clients, despite both properties being under the same ownership.
“Let’s say a different owner rented this house. Why can’t these people walk over and use Jellystone Park?” asked the attorney for Lazy River, Charles Gottlieb of Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna LLP.
The ZBA wasn’t buying it.
“People who rent the house have full use of the [resort] facilities,” pointed out board member David Sterman.
Asked point-blank by ZBA chair David Gandin, “Do you dispute that people who go to the campground can now use the improvements to this lot?”
Gottlieb demurred, insisting that Gardiner zoning law is “vague and ambiguous” and claiming that the recreational facilities are an accessory use allowed by the town for residential properties.
“How is that not commercial?” asked board member Michael MacElhiney.
“If it smells like a duck and it quacks like a duck, it is a duck,” fellow member Joe Katz observed wryly.
“They’re really not good neighbors,” averred Suzanne Levirne, an Albany Post Road resident who lives “one lot away from the campground” and has complained to the town on previous occasions about persistent noise coming from events at Lazy River.
Noting that many uses were “grandfathered” into the original 70.8 acres of the resort, she alleged, “The campground has gotten a pass on a lot of things. What they’re trying to do is circumvent any approvals by the town. They’re buying properties down the road without getting any additional approvals. It’s an expansion of the campground. They can call it whatever they want.”
According to Lewis, recent conversations with the Gardiner Planning Board on the topic had yielded a consensus that compliance is the town’s main goal.
“We want to minimize the impact on the residential neighbors surrounding the campground,” he said. “Getting them in front of the planning board is critical to gain compliance.”
“I object to the process,” Gottlieb argued that enforcement of the NOV should be adjourned until Lazy River comes before the planning board for several other permit applications currently in process.
“I think a global solution is more useful, instead of a piecemeal approach,” he said.
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