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Petition backs retail complex
Journal News
April 30, 2004

A local business group is starting a petition drive to support plans for a proposed shopping center on Route 311 in Patterson.

The center, called Patterson Crossing, would boost the county's sales tax revenue and provide needed shopping opportunities for residents and business owners, said the president of the Patterson Chamber of Commerce.

"Every time I need to get supplies for my business, I go over to Danbury (in Connecticut)," said Jim Mattioli, who heads the chamber and is the owner of a used-car dealership called the 3600 Corporation. "Economically, it's the only way to go."

The $100 million Patterson Crossing would include a Costco warehouse store, a Lowe's home center and several other stores, according to Carmel developer Paul Camarda. The proposed 410,000-square-foot facility would sit on 90 acres on the Kent-Patterson border near Interstate 84. Most of the site is in Patterson.

The developer yesterday said he expected to submit a formal planning application to Patterson by early June. Camarda, assisted by Matthew Bondi, unveiled his project before the Patterson Town Board two weeks ago and presented it to the Kent Town Board earlier this week. Many proposed shopping centers garner petitions, but most of those are usually aimed at derailing the project. Camarda said he welcomed the chamber's unsolicited support.

"Obviously,they recognize the dire need to create additional shopping opportunities and to increase the commercial tax base in Putnam County," Camarda said.

In addition to presenting his project to the town boards, Camarda has been meeting with neighbors of the wooded site to answer questions about his plans. He sent letters to nearby homeowners at the start of the month, offering to "discuss the project one on one." Many have expressed apprehension about expected traffic jams, construction noise and intrusive lighting.

Route 311 is a two-lane road, and one neighbor pointed to the changes brought to Route 312 by the Brewster Highlands center in Southeast. Extra turning lanes were added, and the road widened to accommodate traffic for The Home Depot and other stores.

"You can't put that in without changing the roadways," said Marie Kovacs, who has lived near the proposed site for three years and met with Camarda. "It's crazy."

Camarda also has sought support from the Town Board, asking it to write to the two anchor tenants and welcome their interest in coming to Patterson. Town Supervisor Michael Griffin sent almost identical, noncommittal letters to each company.

"The Town Board would encourage you to commence the approval process," Griffin wrote in part on on April 16. "We welcome the opportunity for town officials and the residents of Patterson to participate in the review process so we may achieve the best possible project."

The chamber expects to finalize the wording of its petition soon. Copies will then be distributed to members so they may solicit signatures from their customers. The documents will eventually be presented to the Town Board.

Anthony P. LoMeli, the chamber's vice president and a retired New York City firefighter, said the group's web site will also feature an electronic version of the petition, which supporters can sign online. That feature should be added to the web site, www.pcofc.org, by May 15, said LoMeli, a web designer who maintains the chamber's site.

"As a person who lives here, I think it's a good idea," LoMeli said. "It's a good way to offset (property) taxes and can obviously give us a benefit here."