The Woodstock Jewish Congregation and the Woodstock Land Conservancy have joined Citizens Against Terramor in opposing the proposed construction of a glamping site in their neighborhood. Kampgrounds of America, which calls itself “the world’s largest system of privately owned campgrounds,” owns a pristine 77-acre property in Saugerties on Route 212 and Glasco Turnpike that borders Woodstock. KOA plans to build a 75-tent high end resort, Terramor Catskills, on the wooded land.
The three groups in opposition share concerns about noise, congestion and air and water pollution emanating from the resort, as well as harm to the endangered Indiana bat. Each tent will be on a platform and will have its own shower, toilet and fire pit. In addition, a lodge and reception area, swimming pool, wellness tent, communal fire pit, maintenance building and employee housing will be constructed if the company is granted permission by the Saugerties planning and town boards.
The Woodstock Jewish Congregation, located in Saugerties on Glasco Turnpike, recently learned that Terramor will discharge treated wastewater into a pond the shul considers sacred. They use it as a mikveh, a place for ritual immersions, and for Tashlich, a Rosh Hashanah ritual during which bread morsels or pebbles are thrown into water as a symbolic casting off of sins. The congregation has warned its members that they’re facing an emergency.
“There’s a lot of anxiety, outrage and confusion about why we weren’t tuned in earlier,” Desirêe O’Clair, vice president of the synagogue’s Board of Directors, told Hudson Valley One. “Guarding the land is a core Jewish value. We want to protect our water and our land and our neighbors’ land.” O’Clair says the Congregation trusts the Saugerties Planning Board to slow down the “snowballing” environmental review process.
In an email, Terramor told Hudson Valley One that it is reaching out to the Congregation and “have decided to find an alternative solution so we do not disrupt their pond.”
The Woodstock Land Conservancy, which is dedicated to the protection and preservation of open land, agrees that the proposed glamping development poses a serious threat and must be carefully reviewed, starting with its plans for wastewater treatment and disposal into the WJC’s pond. In a letter to Hudson Valley One, the WLC sees a threat to “the aquifer and the large, multi-municipality interconnected wetlands system, which provides vital habitat to a variety of wildlife, including threatened and endangered species.”
The WLC’s Executive Director Andy Mossey says Terramor’s current site plan, including the channeling of wastewater to WJC’s pond and all the construction on this forested land, needs revision.
At a well-attended Saugerties Planning Board meeting in late December, eight Terramor representatives addressed the community’s many concerns. The company shared environmental reports and maintained that the project would not result in “any significant adverse environmental impact.” They argued a SEQRA negative declaration (certifying no environmental or archaeological disruption) was warranted.
Citizens Against Terramor, which has gathered 35,000 signatures on a petition against the development, was disheartened to learn that they had missed the 60-day deadline to appeal the Saugerties Building Inspector’s June 2 determination that Terramor is a campground with accessory buildings and therefore allowable under the town’s zoning code.
Dr. Susan Paynter, president of Citizens Against Terramor (aka CAT), told Hudson Valley One, “our main argument is that Terramor does not meet zoning requirements.” She’d be disappointed to see the project go ahead “on some technicality.”
CAT had also hoped that the Town of Woodstock would become an “involved agency” in the SEQRA environmental review because of its shared wetlands. Terramor lawyer Charles Gottlieb argued that by law Woodstock could be no more than “an interested party” since the property is entirely in Saugerties. But the matter is not settled. The Woodstock town council is seeking guidance from the Association of Towns about a Woodstock law requiring a permit when there is activity affecting their wetland.
The next step is a January 17 Planning Board meeting at which some of Terramor’s opponents will speak. Among them will be hydrologist Paul Rubin who, working for CAT, has tested nine nearby residential wells. He will dispute Terramor’s assertion that “that the neighboring wells will not be impacted by the water usage resulting from the Project.”
Terramor told us they will review their hydrologist’s report and will “respond to Mr. Rubin’s comments within our full response to the Town.” (Terramor’s water studies and Rubin’s letter to the Planning Board are available in the resources section of the Citizens Against Terramor website or at southpeaknabe.com.
Terramor’s water studies and Rubin’s letter to the Planning Board are available in the resources section of the Citizens Against Terramor website.
The Saugerties Planning Board meets at the Saugerties Senior Center at 207 Market Street at 7:30 p.m. Organizers point out that this is an informational meeting, with each organization allowed one speaker. A more open-ended public meeting will be scheduled for a later date.