The last official piece fell into place for development of the Heartwood eco-resort in the Tuthilltown hamlet of Gardiner last week, as owners Shinrin Yoku, LLC received site plan approval for agritourism operations on the adjacent parcel, to be known as Heartwood Wildflower Farms. The decision at the January 26 Planning Board meeting cleared the way for construction of a barn, farmstand and small animal enclosures, as well as for growing vegetables on two acres.
Besides storage, the barn includes a gathering space for visitors to the resort to attend talks on agricultural subjects. Owner Phillip Rapoport, who plans to keep goats and chickens on the site, described the intended uses as “educational and experiential – not on the scale of an agricultural production operation.” He also reminded the board that submitting a site plan for the board’s approval was not technically required for this parcel, since agricultural uses are governed by state law, not municipal zoning codes.
Planning Board member Carol Richman, who has opposed the Heartwood project from the outset, was the only one to vote against approval. She questioned whether water uses for the agricultural operations, in combination with the needs of the resort itself, might exceed the capacity of the site’s well. Shinrin Yoku’s attorney, Mike Moriello, pointed out that a group of neighbors opposing the project had brought an Article 78 lawsuit against the town and the developers, challenging the validity of the well tests, and been rejected. “The water was determined to be adequate by the judge,” Moriello said.