The Lloyd Planning Board meeting was standing-room-only, with dozens of residents raising questions and airing their concerns over the proposed Mountainside Woods development, which calls for 162 homes to be built on 29 acres near the base of Illinois Mountain.
The Planning Board handed out responses, penned by developer David Weinberg and his consultants, in reply to questions and comments made at the first public hearing on Sept. 27 by residents, as well as concerns raised by the town’s fire chief and highway superintendent. Those responses also included notes from the Planning Board instructing the developer to expand further upon his answers and change or modify existing parts of his subdivision plan.
Under the direction of Planning Board chair Scott Saso, the public hearing continued to remain open, and Saso encouraged those in attendance to refrain from repeating comments already stated, but instead to reply to the developer’s comments or raise new questions or concerns.
John Indelicato, whose home borders the proposed development and has already had his property flooded and his driveway wiped out by heavy rains and an overflowing stream, spoke passionately about his fear that “There is no way this development will not create greater flooding! We’re talking about 162 homes on 29 acres. It’s not ‘Mountainside Woods’; they’re clear-cutting the mountain — it should be called ‘Matchbook Homes.’ How can they take 29 acres that currently help to absorb rainfall and precipitation, put in houses, asphalt driveways, concrete sidewalks and roads — all impervious surfaces — and claim that there will be ‘no additional stormwater runoff’?” He and other neighbors cried for buffers, and Saso noted that in the Planning Board’s responses to the developer’s answers, it too called for more buffering between the proposed development and existing homes.
Both fire chief Peter Miller and highway superintendent Richard Klotz have written letters to the Planning Board stating that the proposed cul-de-sacs at Mountainside Woods posed serious concerns for them. The chief stated that the “cul-de-sac designs do not allow for the easiest movement of fire apparatus. Further, the potential for snow storage and/or parking in the cul-de-sacs further hampers the ability of the Fire Department vehicles to move freely and quickly respond to the emergency needs within the project.”
Klotz also expressed snow-removal concerns. The developer responded by saying that his engineers “have analyzed this information and determined that the ladder truck will be able to navigate the cul-de-sacs.”
One mitigating tool that the developer is proposing is to have no parking on the cul-de-sacs or any roadways. Several residents scoffed at this idea, claiming that people would park, regardless of the law, during parties or gatherings or holidays, and in their estimation would create an even-greater impediment to emergency access. If they did abide by the “no parking” rule, the fear would be that they would clog up other roads that already are overburdened with roadside parking.
Joseph LaFiandra, a neighboring homeowner to the proposed development — in fact, directly situated next to its proposed detention pond — took issue with the developer’s stormwater and water-usage figures in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). “I’m an environmental civil engineer who works for public agencies, and my specialty is sanitary sewer systems,” he said. “I spend half my day reviewing applications like this, and what the developer has provided here [in terms of his plans for stormwater runoff, sanitary sewer, water usage et cetera) I would never accept.”
LaFiandra claimed that the developer’s estimation of how many gallons of water would be utilized on a daily average was woefully “inadequate and does not meet New York State DEC [Department of Environmental Conservation] codes.” He suggested that the Planning Board require the developer to do a “capacity analysis” that reviewed peak flows and how the current system could handle those peak flows, not just from the development but also from surrounding users. He also said that the detention pond that Weinberg had planned as part of his stormwater management plan was incapable of holding as much stormwater runoff as this “project would generate. I know. I live right next to it.”
LaFiandra also harked back to Weinberg’s proposed Crossroads development in New Paltz that never came to fruition: “His DEIS was rejected in New Paltz because the numbers and figures were not accurate.”
Another resident, Joan Taranto, said that she had just “one question for the Planning Board: Do we need this development? We have 500 homes for sale in Highland. We have Vineyard Commons, that is in default of their loan and has all kinds of problems. Where are these new homebuyers coming from? Where will they get jobs? How will we pay for the increase in school taxes? Why do we let developers come in and put all kinds of money in their pockets when we can barely afford to keep our homes?”
The Planning Board chair pointed out that if the site plan is approved, construction will be done “in four phases,” with the first phase being in the center of the 29 acres. “So if anything is not being met to the standards set out, they won’t be able to build the next phase until they remedy any potential problems,” said the chair.
Approximately 100 acres will be left as a conservation easement, as it borders the town’s watershed as well as passive recreation property owned and operated by the not-for-profit group Scenic Hudson, which has plans to link the Hudson Valley Rail Trail to its property, as well as the walking trails within the conservation easement if the development is approved.