A proposed 10-lot subdivision at the intersection of Ralph Vedder Road and Manorville Road could be subdivided as a “conservation subdivision,” in which the lots are smaller and placed close together to leave more of the land undeveloped, the Town of Saugerties Planning Board’s consultant suggested, but a representative of the developer was not enthusiastic about the idea.
The proposal by Catskill Terraces/HV Contemporary Homes LLC comprises three parcels, two of 44 acres each, and one 1.3-acre parcel. Of the two 44-acre lots, one would contain six building lots and the other would contain four, said Jeff Hogan, engineer for the developer, at the Planning Board’s January 19 meeting. The lots are large, seven to 10 acres, and the proposed house locations are well screened from the roadway, the site plans show.
Adriana Beltrani of Nelson, Pope and Voorhis LLC, the town’s planning consultant, said the zoning law requires that a subdivision of this size requires the consideration of a conservation subdivision, though the board could decide a conventional subdivision is OK. According to the zoning code, conservation subdivisions are intended to “preserve tracts of environmentally and scenically significant undeveloped land. Conservation subdivisions result in the preservation of contiguous open space and important scenic and environmental resources while allowing compact development, more walkable and bikeable neighborhoods, and more design flexibility than conventional subdivisions.”
In deciding whether or not to require this type of development, the board would look at areas of particular environmental value and would also identify areas where smaller lots would allow separation from steep slopes, wetlands and similar natural constraints. While noting that the amount of land in the proposed subdivision is too small to have important natural features to retain, the board might still want to reduce the size of the lots and cluster the development to avoid steep slopes or wetlands, the consultant said.
“The subdivision as laid out contains three cul-de-sac roads,” Beltrani said. “Alternative layouts may be feasible.”
Beltrani said the board may want to require a full EAF [environmental assessment form] given the number of lots proposed, which is a more stringent type of review. Information from this study could inform the board’s decision on whether to require a conservation subdivision.
The plans Hogan is showing are for a conventional subdivision, he said. “That is what the owners of the property want to do. The way the zoning is written, there’s a requirement to evaluate the provision of a cluster subdivision. If I was the owner of the property, I would not be happy if I could not do what I wanted, but it is in there, so I just have to figure out how to get through this.”
Hogan asked if he could poll the board to get a sense of whether the conventional subdivision proposed could be accepted; the result showed a general consensus in favor of a conventional subdivision.
Planning board member Carole Furman said the lots seem very large, and making them a bit smaller to preserve open space is worth considering, but “I’m fine with conventional as well.”
“I think the consensus is that this is a direction we can keep moving forward with, and not have to spend a lot of time and effort looking at the other option,” Hogan said. “I realize we have to go through the process, but let’s not try to make it too complicated if we don’t have to.”