Planning Board hears concerns about proposed 162-unit apartment complex in Glasco

Comments at a public hearing during last week’s Saugerties Town Planning Board meeting regarding a proposed apartment complex in Glasco ranged from concerns about the entry and exit points in the 162-unit development, to traffic, to questions from immediate neighbors about traffic flow and access to their property.

The development borders Route 9W, between Glasco Turnpike and Belknap Lane. It is adjacent to The Birches, a 60-unit affordable housing complex.

Linda Hering, who lives on Belknap Lane, said the area has flooding problems and this development could exacerbate them. Tom George, speaking for the development, said the plans will include retention ponds and drainage that would capture storm water that could accumulate on the property and prevent it from draining onto neighboring properties. Hering also said she was concerned about a number of large trees she said could create a hazard. George replied that any hazardous trees on Glasco Apartments property would be removed.

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Maurice Odder, who lives near the proposed entrance to the property, asked why the entrance was placed on Route 9W rather than on Glasco Turnpike, which carries less traffic. “With the lighter traffic, it would be easier to access from the development,” he said. “I often have to wait two or three minutes to get onto 9W with just one car. I would guess you’re proposing 100 to 200 cars a day coming out of there.” George responded that the traffic studies the developers have done showed longer wait times on Glasco Turnpike than on Route 9W, which was designed to handle the greater flow of traffic. George explained that the design would include turn lanes to handle the traffic flow and the direct connection would be safer than to have the traffic turn onto Route 9W or Route 32 from Glasco Turnpike. The state Department of Transportation has also studied the configuration and agreed that Route 9W would be safer.

Odder asked if children would be able to safely walk out to Route 9W to wait for the school bus. George explained that the development plans call for a school bus stop within the complex, so children would not have to wait on Route 9W.

Odder said he owns property which is accessible via a right of way that the development plans would block. George acknowledged his concern after checking maps and said he would discuss possible solutions with him.

Several near neighbors of the proposed subdivision referred to the existing trees and shrubbery, some of which is worth preserving, but much consists of dead trees, poison ivy and other undesirable species. George reiterated several times that the land the subdivision owns will be cleared and landscaped.

Ron Deek, the owner of six townhouses on Trinity Court, across from the proposed development, said his concern is drainage. His houses were built prior to The Birches construction. While there was standing water in the field on which The Birches was built, “we never had water in our basements,” he said. Despite extensive construction designed to channel the water under Route 9W and into the Esopus Creek, “we now have standing water in our basements,” he said. Given that his property’s elevation is as low as the lowest elevation of the proposed development, he asked that the developers meet with him to discuss ensuring that the water problems don’t get any worse.

A second problem, Deek said, is that in realigning Trinity Court, the developers are encroaching eight or nine feet onto his property. One possible solution would be to bring one building further north and bring Trinity Court further north. Again, this would need further discussion. George responded that the changes that would resolve the encroachment are already in the works.

Deek said the intersection of Trinity Court with Route 9W is especially problematic because of a hill leading up to the highway and the speed of cars on the highway. Though it is posted for 45 mph, he said the cars move much faster on this section of the road because it is a straightaway. “I don’t understand why, when you have a second exit, the secondary exit wouldn’t be used,” he said.

A representative from Passero Associates, the project engineers, explained that Glasco Turnpike will be used during the construction phase, but there is the danger of travelers using the internal roads in the project as shortcuts. The development will start with one building and landscaping, he said, then construction would proceed on the remainder. This would contribute to keeping the area attractive during construction.

In response to a question about the effect of the development on property values, the developers said that the extensive research that has been done on the subject indicates that availability of rental housing generally either has no effect on property values in the area or can actually increase them.

Peg Nau, a member of the Town Board, asked whether the project would include affordable housing – that is, housing priced to allow less affluent people to rent there. George said there would not be affordable units set aside; rental would be at market rates.

The first Town Board members polled were not inclined to keep the hearing open, but after Ken Goldberg offered examples of items that had not been fully dealt with, the board voted to keep the hearing open until the next meeting on Tuesday, January 18.

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