A new 13-home subdivision that could be the largest in Woodstock in two decades is making its way through the Planning Board process at a time when the town has enacted a nine-month moratorium to deal with short term rentals in a long-term housing crisis.
FAM Acres LLC has proposed a 14-lot subdivision on 147 acres off Glasco Turnpike. There is an existing house on the property at 1883 Glasco Turnpike, which is just southeast of the intersection with West Saugerties Road. Plans call for 12 additional homes to be built on lots ranging in size from 5 to 21 acres. A 42.54-acre lot on the property would remain undeveloped.
Two of the lots, roughly 8.98 and 21.29 acres, will be occupied by the owners, who are registered as FAM Acres LLC with an address of 267 W 11th St., NYC. A 4.14-acre lot with the existing home and a 5-acre adjacent lot will be purchased by friends, according to Barry Medenbach, the engineer who is representing the applicant.
A new private road with a cul de sac would be built to the southwest of the existing house. The location of the road is somewhat limited because of wetlands.
The road will not be turned over to the town as is the case in many other subdivisions, but it still must meet the town standards for a road, according to planning board chair Peter Cross. Once the subdivision is approved, the Building Department will work with the developer to make sure the road is built to town specifications and the process may include consulting with the Fire Department to make sure emergency vehicles have access.
Medenbach’s firm proposed moving the road further to the northwest, but the county Highway Department engineers rejected that because of short sight lines near a sharp curve on Glasco Turnpike. “And if we moved it further southwest we would require a steam crossing,” Medenbach said at a May Planning Board meeting.
The owners have shown a preliminary site plan to date and the exact location of the homes is subject to change. “The houses will probably move around because they’ll be built individually,” Medenbach said.
The Planning Board is now in the process of reviewing the general subdivision standards because of the project’s size. “This is probably the largest subdivision I’ve seen in…I couldn’t tell you…20 years,” Cross said when the site plan was first reviewed.
In a July 5 memo, town planning consultant Matthew Rudikoff noted, among other issues, that the applicant has not clearly stated the intentions for the 42.54-acre lot.
He also noted that since access roads are intended to be private, “their maintenance and upkeep will rest with the lot owners, requiring a clear and detailed road access and utility easement and maintenance agreement.”
Site walk, private communication prompts some concerns
Members of the Woodstock Environmental Commission joined a June 22 site walk and drafted a memo listing their concerns. Among them were the number of wetlands on several of the proposed lots and the ability to build.
“Some of the lots are predominantly wetlands, making it difficult to achieve the required proportion of undeveloped space while fitting in a home as well as driveway and septic,” the memo stated. “We recommend reducing the number of lots planned to keep development from encroaching on the wetlands,” it added, while noting it is difficult to make a determination without seeing final plans.
The Environmental Commission also recommended giving recreational rights to all lot owners in the subdivision to the 42.54-acre lot, creating a protected space that is shared by all residents.
“We recommend that there should be a 20-year limit before discussion could even begin about changing the use of the land,” the memo stated.
The Environmental Commission also referenced private discussions about the project and sought greater transparency.
“We were concerned to learn that the property owners had sought to have private conversations about the subdivision with individual town representatives from both the Town Board and the Housing Committee. Going forward, we feel that any outreach of this nature should be met with a reply from the entirety of whichever group is being contacted.”