Thursday, March 24, 2005

"Hidden Forest" Comments Welcome

At the Febuary 6, 2005 meeting of the Hurley Planning Board a developer named Richard Lewis outlined a proposal to build 652 houses on 400 acres in Old Hurley, replacing the beautiful and historic Mill Creek woods between Route 209 and Lucas Avenue. The land is owned by the Gill family. The security “pavilion” to this gated development would be where the parking lot of the Rail Trail is now. Only residents and those with permission would be allowed into this luxury site where the price of houses will range up to nearly $400,000 in current prices. The plan is to restrict residents to “active seniors” 55 and over. In other words, this is not what is normally thought of as senior housing, but a development which will include two swimming pools, tennis courts, a large community center and similar recreational facilities solely for the residents. The development's lawyer in a letter to the Planning Board states: "The project is intended to be constructed in six phases of roughly equal numbers of units over approximately six years. Each phase will include a variety of unit types. The phases will be built successively and each will include sufficient roads, stormwater management structures and practices, and utilities to support the phase. Construction of active recreational facilities, including the club house, and the sewer and water plants will be commenced at the time of commencement of the first phase." Recently, there was a great deal of bulldozer activity in the area which, the developer claimed, was digging to determine if there was sufficient water. Ulster County regulations only state that the builder has to show that there is enough water for that particular site, not if it will dry up the supply to other residents. In addition, this site is extremely close to the main aquifer for Hurley and Marbletown. The area consists mostly of highly permeable soil with a limestone bedrock, meaning that any pollutants are conducted rapidly downhill. Thus, any spilled pollutants will most likely end up in the aquifer and, thus, into our drinking water. The developer plans a nearby sewage treatment plant.