The Woodstock Planning Board approved subdividing the former Lasher Funeral Home property into two lots, clearing one more hurdle for the possibility of preserving the field behind the buildings.
The property at 100 Tinker Street sat on one 4.82-acre lot. With the subdivision, the buildings and parking lot comprise Lot One, a 2.06-acre parcel, while the 2.76-acre open field behind is Lot Two, a separate parcel. “The plan is to keep [Lot Two] vacant, and keep Lot One as-is,” said Michael Morehouse, survey technician for the civil engineering and land surveying firm Medenbach & Eggers.
On the site plan presented to the Planning Board, the field is labeled as “Proposed Lot 2.” Neighbors had questions about what is planned for the lots, but Planning Board Chair Peter Cross said all that is before the board at present is the subdivision.
Kenneth Bressack, who lives near the field, attended the March 17 Planning Board meeting held via videoconference because he was curious about the property’s status. “So basically, that other lot’s going to remain forever wild?” Bressack asked.
“We don’t know that. We don’t know what they intend to do with it. It just allows it to be dealt with separately from the property that has the old buildings on it and the parking lot,” Planning Board member Judith Kerman said.
Planning Board Vice Chair Stuart Lipkind asked if the field is a buildable lot.
“It’s my understanding that it’s being used as a buffer,” Cross said. “But that doesn’t mean that an application for a building permit couldn’t come sometime down the road. We know that it’s a wet area, so it’s pretty difficult to build on, but that’s not before us.”
When asked after the subdivision was approved, real estate agent Peter Cantine, who is handling the listing and sale, said he is bound by confidentiality and cannot comment until the sale closes.
Nearby residents have been trying to formulate a plan to save the field after a deal with Woodstock Way Hotel partners Ryan Giuliani and Jesse Halliburton fell through last year. The partners had planned to develop the front parcel into a hotel and retail space and to build homes on the field. After some wrangling back and forth, they agreed to scrap plans for the field and sell it back to any party interested in keeping it undeveloped. The partners and the Peterson family, owners of the former funeral home, backed out of the deal due to timing and the impending moratorium on transient housing.
More housing in Bearsville Flats?
Also at the March 17 meeting, Town Supervisor Bill McKenna requested input from the Planning Board on allowing housing in a Light Industrial zone. The proposed change is part of amending zoning to allow libraries in the zone. The Woodstock Public Library hopes to move into 10 Dixon Avenue, the former Miller/Howard Investments headquarters.
“Light industrial was an industrial area, literally. It was Rotron…and it was industrial,” Cross said. “And so the thinking by the planning people back then was, well, you don’t want to have residential people in the middle of a commercial area, a factory or something. But that’s not the case anymore. The industrial part of it is not going to be the kind of industry that was originally seen.”
Planning Board member John LaValle noted there are 108 houses in the Bearsville Flats that are not on the town sewer system.
“We long-ago kept insisting that we should extend the sewer line up to that area to provide sewer,’ Cross said. “And that kept getting shot down because everybody in town thought that the entire Bearsville corridor would then be connected to the town sewer and could be developed.”
Board members said they are amenable to recommending housing in the Light Industrial Zone if the sewer line is extended. The system now ends at the Post Office.
But Cantine noted housing would be prohibitive for any developer if sewer is required because of the cost, unless the town found funding. “If you ask a potential homeowner to spend half a million dollars to bring the town sewer up there, it’s not realistic,” Cantine said.
“Maybe the supervisor can find some funding from the federal government with the infrastructure bill to get this done,” Lipkind suggested.