Kiniry West LLC, a Saugerties contractor whose operations and construction of an office building was halted by a stop-work order issued by the local building department last November, may be one step closer to getting back to business. Months after the matter was initially brought before it in January, the town planning board in January indicated at its May 19 Webex meeting its intention to sign a negative environmental declaration in June. That will allow the owners of the properties at 1740 and 1752 Route 212 to proceed with a new site plan without a more comprehensive environmental review.
Town officials cracked down on the site after neighbors, who had been closely monitoring the property for some time due to noise pollution and dust that they say lessened their quality of life and property values. They said property owner Kim Kiniry had cleared a much larger swathe of trees on the 1740 Route 212 location than the .98 acre area of disturbance he had indicated on his original site plan.
Mark Kanter and his wife, Heather Hutchinson, live at a higher elevation near the site, They said that Kiniry’s excavation activities on the shale ledge beneath their property shook the foundations of their house and created constant, droning noise. Kim Kiniry, Kanter said, had hoped to harvest shale from one parcel to the other, where his family had intended to build their shop and parking spaces for construction equipment.
Kiniry said in January that he was not going to continue using onsite-rocks “because we don’t want to cause a ruckus.” Kiniry said that he would, instead, bring in rocks from other locations.
Kanter and Hutchinson’s lawyer, Emily Svenson asserts that the Kiniry West LLC should address a series of other issues before resuming work on the property. \Since the initial stop-work order, the couple have communicated with others through Facebook posts and chain emails imploring neighbors and concerned locals to speak out about the site’s activities. When the property was addressed by the town planning board in January, 50 individuals showed up. Disheartened by the online response to a Facebook post made about the property, Kim Kiniry revoked his site plan at the time. At this meeting, just four residents spoke on the topic.
“The addition of outdoor storage of materials and equipment [indicated on the most recent site plan] means loading and unloading trucks with rock and fill, and those things create noise and dust impacts on the neighbors as though they lived next to a perpetual construction site …. We really need better details on that,” said Svenson. “The new proposal that we have here shows large piles of material stored in front of the building in view of Route 212 [and is] also visible from my client’s property… That view is contrary to the town’s gateway zoning district, which is established for the gateways to the community.”
Gina Kiniry, who spoke along with engineer Chris DiChiaro and attorney Mike Moriello, maintained that Kiniry West LLC had taken significant steps to mitigate neighbors’ concerns.
“I don’t intend to hurt people’s feelings, I want to be a good neighbor,” she said. “My son is going to take over this business, I don’t want him to take on this animosity from all these people that hate us and think we’re ruining their property values. I planted trees, I have berms, and I’m trying to do everything possible to make it look nice. I just want this business to be in business …. We’re being treated like we’re common criminals who want to disrupt our neighbors. Yes, it’s a construction site, but it’s not a construction site now.”
Moriello suggested that neighbors’ issues could be addressed at the next public hearing for a site plan.
Corinna Geib, whose tea-brewing business plans to open off Route 212 close to the Kiniry property, was concerned about possible water pollution caused by the site being overlooked.
“Our plan is to open a retail store and a tea house there in about a month, our product is a really valued product in the area,” said Geib. “For me, there’s just so many open questions that at this point I just don’t feel comforted …. We have a responsibility, we serve food, we make tea. I just need to know about the impacts for the air quality, the water quality, the runoff, and any contamination of the water.”
The board agreed, once a negative declaration is drafted, to pass it at the next meeting. Concerns, they said, will still be addressed during the review of Kiniry’s site plans for both parcels.
“I think it’s pretty well documented that the site does not have any sensitive environmental features that would be disrupted and destroyed by development of the site,” said planning consultant Dan Shuster. “I think it’s, the concerns are more related to how the site is going to be used. Most of those are functions of the site plan that still has to come before the board. The board I think will hold a public hearing on it. The process allows for conditions on how the site is operated that can be placed on any approvals that might be granted.”
Neighbors, however, are apprehensive. Will Kiniry West LLC adhere to stipulations agreed on at planning-board meetings? “The basis of trust has been broken,” said Hutchinson. “I don’t know if I were to agree with something with hours and limitations it would even be held up.”
“The bottom line is, if you read the emails, the DEC has been really uncooperative,” said DiChiaro. “It just doesn’t seem like a big enough deal for them to be interested. They had somebody out on the site when construction started, somebody was out there and they saw no violations.”
The issue will be addressed again this month For an invite to the Webex session, planning board secretary Becky Bertorelli can be contacted.