Saugerties horse academy proposal scrutinized

Owner of proposed horse-riding academy Sharon Bach and neighbor Mary Snow. (Photo by David Gordon)

Neighbors of a proposed horse riding academy off Glasco Turnpike packed a town planning board meeting on July 17 to complain that the facility, given its close proximity to a residential and commercial area, would cause crowding, pollution and traffic problems. Chairman Howard Post said he expected several more discussions by the board before a decision was made. The town planning board has 62 days to decide whether to approve the project.   

Proposed are two arenas, one indoor and one outdoor, paddocks for boarding horses and two entrances off Glasco Turnpike on a lot of approximately 14.5 acres. There are single-family houses between the proposed riding academy and Glasco Turnpike. The Birches housing development is close by.


The main entrance would be on a proposed new road off Mary Street, which would accommodate heavier vehicles and horse trailers, explained engineer Bruce Utter. The site plan shows 31 parking spaces.

Larry Marcus, who lives on Glasco Turnpike, wanted to know whether trees that screen his property as well as adjacent properties on Glasco Turnpike, would remain. Utter pointed out drainage lines on the map. A couple of trees might have to be removed,” he said. However, the intent was not to remove trees unless they blocked the lines.

Judy Delachiesa of Glasco Turnpike was concerned about the smell of manure, the flies it would generate, and “the rodents that would come for the grain.” Utter said the manure would be stored in bins and removed weekly. 

Owner Sharon Bach said she uses a predator that eats the larvae of the flies, and over a period of several years the fly population has been virtually decimated. As for rats, Utter said the barns were kept scrupulously clean, and there were traps as well.

Stephanie Desilva asked about cars and trailers coming in an out. Utter said three or four events per year would draw traffic. Otherwise, traffic would be minimal. The events would not be comparable to those at HITS, which draws professional riders from around the country, but small events attracting mostly local people. “This is mostly for students who ride,” he said.

Mary Snow was concerned about the increase in water use. Given the number of homes in the area (with more proposed), there’d be more stress on water supplies. She also was concerned about the number of gravel roads in the development. Residents near other developments have questioned whether firefighting equipment could reach the new structures. Traffic, especially the large horse trailers, would also be a concern in Glasco, which already has traffic problems.

Snow said later that several large projects have recently been proposed in Glasco. She cited the recently-approved Farmhouse Commons, the Agawan restaurant and cabins, and “now what may not seem big for you, but that horse farm is a big deal for that area.” She asked the board to take a hard look at traffic and the protection of natural resources.

Utter said the estimates for water usage, 3200 gallons per day, and sewage use were well within the capacity of the district. The property will have hydrants for firefighting, he said. The gravel roads within the project were designed to carry the weight of fire trucks. As for traffic, Praetorius and Conrad Engineering, Utter’s employer, has studied the impact on traffic of several projects the firm is working on in the area, and this project was included in the total estimate.

Susan Weeks asked whether the proposed lighting on the property would be shielded to prevent obscuring the night sky. The carriage-style lights would not be bright, Utter replied, and should not obscure the sky.

Who would ensure that conditions accompanying issuance of a special-use permit for the project weren’t adhered to? Board consultant Dan Shuster said conditions specified in the permit could be enforced by the building department. In the worst case, violations could lead to revocation of the permit.

In response to a question, Howard Post said he expected the taxes the project pays will be taxed at the normal rates for the usage and acreage of the property.

One questioner told Utter she had heard “it’s a done deal.” “That’s news to me,” Utter replied. 

The information session was to get feedback on what the public wants to see, Utter said, and to incorporate changes. As an example, he repeated that every effort would be made to preserve the trees that border the property.

Judy Dellachiesa asked about ownership of the property. The prospective owner, Sharon Bach, is in contract to buy it if the riding academy is approved. The property is now owned by a trust. 

Additional comments or questions should be mailed or dropped off  at the planning board office in the town hall at 4 High Street, Saugerties, NY 12477. The meetings of the planning board are on the third Tuesday of each month, and the public is invited to attend – though not to comment if the meeting doesn’t include a public hearing. 

There is one comment

  1. Lea Cullen Boyer

    All projects in the Catskills and Hudson Valley should be Dark Sky compliant.

    Our community needs to step up to the task of better land stewardship. This winter we need to hold community meetings to work together to create ordinances that will safeguard our mountains and rein in the rampant suburbanization of the wilderness we love.

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