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.
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.