Amid the presently diminishing pandemic, the beleaguered Selina Woodstock seeks permission to salvage at least part of the 2020 summer tourist season. The town board is considering a memorandum of understanding, or MOU, to allow international hotel and resort operator Selina to open a limited number of cabins at least temporarily on the former Woodstock Lodge property it purchased about two years ago.
Three cabins would accommodate 18 adults in all.
The Selina Woodstock project has been in limbo since the purchase. Last summer, the town’s zoning board of appeals ruled building permits had been issued in error. Since then, Selina representatives have met with the planning board to try to resolve ongoing issues with the property going back to former owner Michael Skurnick, who proposed changes to the property and abandoned his plans. Selina sued former owner Skurnick for misrepresenting the status of the property and assuring them all permits were in place. They were not.
Supervisor Bill McKenna said only three buildings are affected by recent decisions, and the rest of the property can be used. He said about 14 building could be operated.
“Their only alternative is to challenge the town over their right to operate, and frankly, they’d win,” McKenna said.
McKenna believes Selina wants to be part of Woodstock. “I think they’re kind of in shock as to how everything went down and generally they want to be part of the community,” McKenna said.
Under temporary operations, Selina Woodstock would require all guests to complete a questionnaire stating they have no symptoms and have not been exposed to anyone with Covid 19.
McKenna briefed the Planning Board at its May 21 meeting about the MOU discussion. “I think it gives the town more leverage over them to make sure they operate in a way that makes sense for the neighbors and propertyowners,” he argued.
McKenna said despite the issues with the property, he’s optimistic the MOU is the right move.
“We’ve all been burned by the owners. I’m a little cautious, but they’re saying the right thing,” he said.
“The fact they’re not fighting us on this and making a legal brouhaha indicates to me they’re trying to be good neighbors.”
Planning Board member Conor Wenk said the lines of communication need to remain open. “This is what happened with Michael [Skurnick],” Wenk said. “It seemed like things were relatively amicable, then we stopped hearing [from them].”
The board agreed with Wenk’s suggestion that Selina meet with them before the MOU is signed.
“The last thing we want is for them to fall off the earth once the MOU is issued.”
Planning board chairman Peter Cross said Selina needs to get started on engineering to hook up to town water and sewer, something it had discussed last summer. There are many septic tanks scattered throughout the property, some of which are not mapped.
McKenna said while Selina seemed to have backed off the water hookup, they are amenable to sewer connections. “Trust, but verify,” planning board member John LaValle said, repeating the phrase made famous by former president Ronald Reagan.