With a deadlocked 3-3 vote the Woodstock Planning Board effectively denied a timber harvest permit applied for by Woodsy Mack, LLC, a company based in the Long Island town of North Bellmore run by John McCormack. The McCormack family has a home on the property where the harvest would take place, which sits between Easton Lane and Blue’s Quarry Road, east of the town’s main Hamlet.
Those in opposition to the permit, residents of Easton Lane, cited safety and noise concerns.
“We live across the street from the staging area, and we have a power line that stretches across the road where the trucks would have to access the staging area,” said Jennifer MaHarry. “Our cable…I believe it’s the internet cable…is 11 feet, six inches off the driveway…it was deemed someone would be lifting the line, every time a truck came through…”
“There was an estimate of 50-60 trucks, which I’m a little unclear of also. So that means that line would be lifted 100 to 120 times, and we’re worried that our power is going to be going off and on, especially in winter. We work from home, we need the internet at all times. We need our power, and that’s a real concern for us.”
Forester Anthony Del Vescovo, who, in 1999 and 2000, managed a timber harvest on the property for previous owners to clean up damage done by Hurricane Floyd from 1998, said he would do everything possible to address the cable, which is supposed to be 14 feet high by law.
But that was just one of many concerns of the neighbors.
“Something that hasn’t been mentioned yet is just the safety factor of these enormous trucks,” MaHarry said. “I was online looking for pictures of logging trucks just to see how big they really were in relation to the lane, and I can’t tell you how many pictures of trucks falling over, crashed, falling out with logs going for 50 yards rolling off…if something happened like that, if a truck did slide in the winter down the lane on ice, fell over, the logs would go tumbling into our houses,” she continued. “Most houses are right on the lane. So that hasn’t even been addressed, and that’s a real danger. What happens if there’s an accident on ice in the middle of the winter.”
After an October 29 site walk, the Planning Board had a draft resolution ready approving the timber harvest with several restrictions, prompting some neighbors to believe it was “rubber stamped” without taking their concerns into account.
In fact, that resolution had placed more restrictions than usual.
It limited the hours to weekdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., allowing only truck loading on the weekends. Trucks would have been required to use four-way flashers and limit speed to 10 mph on Easton Lane. Trucks could not use Easton Lane during school bus pickup and drop-off hours.
But that wasn’t enough to satisfy concerns of those planning board members in opposition.
A compromise to have a six-month trial run ended in a deadlock. With Planning Board member Conor Wenk absent, the vote was 3-3, thus failing for the lack of a majority. Planning Board members Judith Kerman and James Conrad and Planning Board Chairman Peter Cross voted in favor of a six-month trial run, while John LaValle, Brian Normoyle and vice chair Stuart Lipkind voted against.
“I have been probably familiar with Eastern light over the last 50 or 60 years, and the situation there is dramatically different. I have problems supporting this in any way,” Planning Board member LaValle said. “There was a time when these type of permits were logical. Harvesting timber in certain areas of town made sense. I do not think it makes sense any longer for Easton Lane…The amount of building that has gone on, on Easton Lane over the last couple of decades is significant. The traffic is significant. It’s just become more and more part of the village. We wouldn’t permit a logging permit in the middle of the village and I think we’re approaching that when it comes to this particular location.”
Del Vescovo pointed out the project will be run under DEC forest management rules, but some Planning Board members said the neighbors must be considered.
“I’ve mixed feelings about the DEC issue. On the one hand, I trust them to know what is good for the forest. On the other hand, commercial use for lumber products is something I’m somewhat less sympathetic to. That’s not a value that I place as high as some other things. And this is a difficult case, because there are people living there who have a right to expect peace and quiet,” Kerman said.
“In New York State, we are very fortunate to have the largest non-federal park in the entire country. It’s called the Adirondack Park. There are six million acres there. They are managed in a very restrictive way. This type of permit would never be considered within the Adirondack Park right now,” LaValle said. “We are in the Catskill Park, the entire town is in the Catskill Park, and I think it’s time to kind of wake up. There are other areas of this town that this would indeed be not only allowable, but probably encouraged. Not, in my book, Easton Lane.”
“There’s a number of things that humans and entities do that they think they’re doing the right thing for the land. And they’re really not. So, and I agree with John, things have fundamentally changed. So you know, I just, I don’t feel comfortable with this one either.”