NEW WINDSOR — A Zoning Board of Appeals interpretation of a word in the town zoning code has encouraged residents opposing the construction of four warehouses in the midst of their homes.

The ZBA was asked for the interpretation by the town Planning Board, after some residents questioned whether the code was being applied properly to the project.

Former planning board member Henry Van Leeuwen wants to build four warehouses of various sizes, with a total area of just under half a million square feet, on about 120 acres at Little Britain Road, also known as Route 207, and Toleman Road.

That area is zoned for offices and light industry, but aside from a storage business, the immediate area is occupied only by homes. Residents say the warehouses will not fit in the neighborhood.

Town code says a warehouse or distribution center can be built in that zone, ”if it is incidental to the main purpose of the business.”

The ZBA was asked to interpret the meaning of “incidental” in that context.

The ZBA unanimously ruled that it meant “subordinate to” the main business, not related to it.

Residents had argued in favor of that interpretation in letters to the board. Ronald Eaton, who lives on Toleman Road, said the ZBA made the right decision.

“The warehouses would be 97 percent of the project,” Eaton said. “By sheer size and function, they’re not incidental.”

It is unclear what the next step might be.

Van Leeuwen could challenge the ZBA interpretation in court, ask the town to rewrite the zoning code, or submit a new plan.

mrandall@th-record.com