Saugerties planners set to approve resort that includes farm-to-table restaurant and cabins

Artist’s rendering of the project, showing cabins in the foreground and fields in the background.

Agawan Hospitality Group’s long review by the town planning board seems to be coming to a close. The group’s extensive plans for a Liberty Street location behind the Glasco firehouse include a 129-seat restaurant, 60 cabins, a large garden area for growing food for the restaurant, an artist’s studio and a horse-riding stable.

The Saugerties planning board “seems close to agreement” on approval of the plan, the board’s planning consultant Dan Shuster said at the board meeting December 18. He expects to have a resolution on incorporating the points the board has discussed at the January meeting ready for a vote.

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Dealing with issues of sound

How loud is too loud? Utter proposed a limit of 70 decibels between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m., with a limit of 50 decibels after 10 p.m. until the morning. This would avoid disturbing most of the neighbors’ sleep.

Shuster said that whether the sound was continuous or intermittent would affect the hearer differently. Board member Dan Ellsworth said a simple decibel reading doesn’t necessarily guarantee that neighbors won’t be disturbed. For instance, sounds in the bass range carry much more readily than higher pitched sounds of the same decibel level. Atmospheric conditions, the lay of the land – hilly versus flat – and even different materials can make a difference in the perceived sound levels.

Utter said the area where music would be playing is near the middle of the large property, which would also mitigate the annoyance from the sound of bands.

Ellsworth suggested that the venue hire its own sound man, rather than relying on bands to bring their own. This would give the resort control of noise levels, with an expert checking them, he said.

The board agreed to include a limit of two events per week. Adam Friedman, one of the partners in the project, said the limit was reasonable.

Rustic road review

The discussion also included trees to screen the property, fencing (not required), and a number of county planning board comments.

Engineer Bruce Utter presented a plan for road striping, as requested by the board’s engineer. He also noted on the map which areas are to be paved with tar and chips and which would be gravel.

The county suggested chip and seal roads across the entire property. Friedman countered that this would interfere with the rustic feel the owners were trying to achieve with gravel roads except in the entry, maintenance areas and some more traveled areas. The board voted to overrule the county recommendations, which required a two-thirds vote.

Board member Michael Tiano said the fire department’s trucks could have difficulty responding if the roads were gravel rather than tar. Tiano also pointed out that the gravel could spread to adjoining areas. 

Friedman said, “This is our property; it’s not going to affect anyone else.” Utter described the desire for gravel roads as aesthetic. “They want the farm appearance, and most farms don’t have chip and seal on the road up to the house or the barn,” he said.

Utter agreed to include the sealed roads in the service area and portions of the access roads, but not on the road to the restaurant, the parking areas or access roads to the cabins. The board voted to override the county comment that all the roads should be paved.

Conservation, lighting, access

The county recommended conservation easements on existing vegetation on the eastern edge of the site. Based on the plans showing the limits of what they intend to clear, Utter said the easement did not seem necessary. Ellsworth said the easement would formalize the protection of the wooded area. Board member Carole Furman said it would protect the area if the property were to be sold. 

The board voted to override the county recommendation.

While the county planning board recommended specific levels of illumination on the property, Utter said the plans show levels that are the same as or lower than the county recommendations. Friedman said the partners wanted relatively low levels of artificial light at night. The lighting on the plans is based on light emitting diodes (LEDs).

The board voted to override a county proposal that architectural drawings showing all the buildings in context with their surroundings. Utter noted that such a rendering of the site had been submitted at the beginning of the process.

Finally, the county suggested that access to the Hudson River be provided for the public as part of the plan, as well as to hiking trails. Utter noted that the property to the north, Solite, and the property to the south, Central Hudson, do not offer access to the public. The resort is offering access to trails and the waterfront to its guests, and public access could conflict with their use of the property, Friedman said. 

The board voted to override the county comment, with board member Carole Furman opposed. “I think the idea is to have these trails, to be able to have people able to hike across the area,” she said. Ulster County has done a good job of opening areas to hikers, and they are generally beautifully maintained, she said. “I understand it’s your property, but I believe we should all have access to water.”

Shuster summed up the discussion saying the board seems close to consensus, and at the next meeting he will have a resolution incorporating all the prior discussion for the board to vote on. Following the meeting, Friedman said he was glad to see the long process coming to an end. The project has been in front of the planning board for about a year and a half.

There are 12 comments

  1. NYArtist

    Not having stricter rules about the noise level is downright disrepectful to Saugerties. I lived 3 blocks from the Hudson on the Saugerties side and I can hear the train running through Rhinebeck and moving north. Sound carries, especially at night. And what about fireworks. The Black Swan shoots off fireworks which freaks out the dogs and wildlife. For people waking up early, having loud music until 10pm or babies who go to sleep early is not neighborly.

    Was this enterprise given the same vile tax benefits that the Diamond Mill was? Not mentioned in the article.

    What is the plan for traffic? 32 is a very narrow road. It can take forever when a slow car or truck is making it’s way to Kingston or Saugerties. There is literally no passing. Do we really need additional traffic? What about the village traffic which is already unmanageable. No plans are set for that nor for parking which the town has totally ignored even though there is space behind the shops on Partition st to expand. The old boys network is dead set against improving the situation, sadly.

    I am not a big fan of this project. It won’t benefit residents of Saugerties. Only the owners of the property and business. Is the area even going to be open to residents to enjoy? Diamond Mills was supposed to provide that and never did.

    Someone’s pockets are growing fatter I bet.

  2. Frank Mancuso

    Death of a thousand cuts. As utilities come into our beautiful valley they need development for their current. Cut by cut the valley will become Long Island with more traffic, pollution, cement until ultimately we become like every other grotesque place.

  3. Mary Ann Mays

    I believe a primary concern for any Planning Board should be the kind of community desired. The proposed development has three issues that disturb me: sound; easement between properties; and access to a publc treasure, the river.
    Sound abatement is very important. I would not deny the delight of music …even what I wouldn’t like…to many. Sound experts can help here, and limitation of “events” as suggested.
    Easement …maintenance of wood lots between properties…should be in writing. It avoids a lot of legal problems “down the road “, and maintains the community’s desired appearance.
    Public access to the river creates community. The developer may want an exclusive feel for their clients, but all they do is divide the clients from the town people they came to meet and the town they came to see. Access should be an easement. The developer could use gates for client access. Think of the Rondout waterfront.
    Recognize that if the Town Planners and the developers don’t think thoroughly of the effects on the community they will make a lot of work for the Zoning Board of Appeals, and all the expensive hassle that entails.
    FRIENDLY SAUGERTIES might be diminished.

    As an aside, an Ulster County township , years ago, turned down a developer who wanted to build a gated community. Gated communities were not in the nature of their community. Such places smack too much of “us and them” and breaks up the “we”.

  4. Gotterdamerung

    How SPECIFICALLY will this project benefit me and my family??? Has consideration been given to the effect this will have on me? Anything good? Doubt it….

  5. Mary Ann Mays

    This is a second comment, but It might be wise to recognize the possibility that commercial development that provides venue for events, even joyful events like weddings, can create a good deal of disruption in areas largely residential, especially if alcohol is offered.

  6. Lea Cullen Boyer

    Kind of looks like the “Board” override every concern or protection the community commonly expects. Would be great to have a rustic event space in town. Welcome! Would be important for the developers to insist that the board hold their project to the same standards as others.

    As for the paving. Would think that permeable paving and gravel well maintained should be the standard. This project might be the catalyst for such a change.

    Access to the river for the community already exists on this property. Despite signage etc. This project can increase commu it wealth and connection or decrease it through insuring the public’s right of access.

    Solite and other manufacturing plants were allowed to restrict access in a time when industry owned politicians. Since this is no longer the case, continuing access to all should be a no-brainer

    1. Mary Ann Arnold-Mays

      I agree that public access along the river has the potential to encourage small business development in Glasco’s more commercial areas….Main and Delaware.. Having driven through Glasco I see a basically attractive area that could be renewed to attract more people to visit.. ..get a pizza, ice cream, buy a tsochke, or a priciesr meal….The kind of businesses visitors like in older village settings.
      The project is well located for this.It quite accessible for many walkers to the business area, or a short ride.
      Town planners need to plan, not just tick off the boxes lawyers put in front of them. CONSIDER THE COMMUNITY AND ITS FUTURE.
      PS Has Scenic Hudson ever consideredthis and the other proximate sites?. Falling Waters attracts many visitors who end up on Partition Street. Why not Main or Delaware?

  7. Toby2

    I love living in Ulster County where we fight everything. It’s called development. Places get developed. Populations ebb and flow, but overall they increase.

    There is no body of water with total accessibility. Is this going to be built on the town beach? If not, buy the land yourself if you want to get down to the river.

  8. Robert

    As the NIMBYs go nuts. So you folks don’t want jobs, and I guess you don’t realize this development and those who live in it will pay property taxes – the bigger the base of taxes, the more money to run the government and provide services, taxes probably won’t go down, but any increases should be offset by more tax payers.
    To think vacant land will sit vacant just to please you folks is downright silly.
    You don’t like what’s planned there buy the land. remember if you were not born in Saugerties, developers built where you now live and where you shop and eat.

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