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.


virginia said...

On Monday, March 22, a member of the Hurley Planning Board stated that the Board had heard nothing from the developer since their February meeting.


maeve said...

I look forward to getting real facts from this site,and also to share opinions maeve

Anonymous said...

I am wondering if the residents of Hurley really understand how "Gillville", as most are calling it, will change our Town forever. Visualize how long your wait will be pulling onto RT 209 as 652 reisdents head in/out to their destinations each day. What will the Hurley Post Office and Stewarts parking area look like in the morning/afternoon/lunch hours. These are just small small issues compared to the dangers posed to our aquifers that feed the wells and our homes! Think of how many gallons of water are used in your house each day and multiply that by 652. This will be water suck out of our aquifer each day and put back through a sewage treatment plant near the wetlands of Gillville.

Ned said...

Why couldn't the town issue a bond and buy the land to convert it into a park, a wildlife sanctuary or something else worthwhile?

virginia said...

Questions about the Proposed 652-House Development

1. Population: This project will increase the size of Old Hurley by 40%. Is this acceptable to the residents not only of Hurley, but of surrounding towns?

2. Water: Is there enough water for this huge project (they are admitting to a use of 260,000 gallons per day) and for the rest of the town even in periods of severe drought? If the developers claim there is, how do we know their conclusions are accurate?

3. Pollution: This project is not only situated above the streams that supply most of the water to the town, it is a very few yards uphill from the primary aquifer for the towns of Old Hurley and Marbletown. Moreover, it is situated on highly permeable soil with a limestone bedrock, which are both rapid conductors of liquids. What is to prevent construction debris and runoff, oil spills, road salt, herbicides and pesticides, paints, bleach and other toxic contaminents flowing down into the towns’ water supply, thus sooner or later forcing residents over a wide area to use bottled water for years and possibly decades?

4. Floods: With at least 85 acres of impervious surfaces planned, what is to prevent massive amounts of stormwater runoff from entering town streams, thus causing even worse and more frequent flooding than that of April 2?

5. Waste: According to their map, their sewage treatment plant for the 1,300 people will abut Russell Road. Given the problems with the plant on Kingston’s Strand, how do they plan to control the smell? What about leakages? Security? And since they are planning to dump the large amounts of effluent into Mill Creek, what about pollution, especially during times of heavy precipitation? This apparently was a big problem recently with the area around Russell Road with its comparatively few residences.

6. Traffic: The only non-emergency entrance to the development is planned to be on a curve on top of a hill. Is this not dangerous? With 652 houses, probably at least 1,300 people will be living there with 1,300 cars. Assuming each person only makes one trip a day, that is 1,300 out and 1,300 in. Further assuming one service trip per day per household that comes to a total of almost 2,000 trips out and 2,000 in or a traffic generation of 4,000 vehicles per day. What will that do to Route 209, to Old Route 209, to Lucas Avenue, Zandhoek, Hurley Avenue Extension and to Main Street? What will it be like getting into Stewarts and the Post Office, an area which at times is already dangerous to navigate? What about auto emissions and our relatively clean air, especially with cars waiting for long periods of time to enter Route 209?

7. Noise: Will we have to listen to the planned six years of massive construction noise?

8. Rail Trail: According to the plans, these 4,000 cars per day will all have to cross the Rail Trail. Many of the houses will be along the Rail Trail on both sides for thousands of yards. What will this do to the countryside concept of the Rail Trail?

9. Post Office: The 12443 Post Office claims they cannot handle 652 more houses. Will this development have its own Post Office?

10. Fire Department: The all-volunteer Old Hurley Fire Department is currently stretched to its limit, mostly with EMS calls. With a population of 1,300, all of whom presumably are over 55, what will that do to demands on the Fire Department? Will this place have its own Fire Department or will Old Hurley have to go to a paid department and what will that do to Hurley taxes?

11. Wetlands: The developers state they will not build on State-designated wetlands, but what about the federal ones and the smaller ones which the Town of Hurley has not yet protected? How much of a buffer zone will even be around the State ones? What will stormwater runoff, pesticides and other contaminents do to the wetlands?

12. Biodiversity and forests: There is a great deal of biodiversity there and many hunters use it in-season. There are also beautiful hemlock forests, glacially deposited boulders, large collections of ferns, seasonal streams, limestone outcroppings. This will all be destroyed. Is this acceptable to the town?

13.. Historic significance: According to the Hurley town historian, this area was once used by settlers in colonial times as their woodlot. It contains the remains of a mill dam, and the trail through it was once the main road to New Paltz. Does this all have to be destroyed?

14. Recreation: It is the only forested area left in Old Hurley and is the closest thing we have to walking trails and a town park. Will there be no public access at all to this natural resource? Will the entire property have a wall around it?

15. Lighting: Will there be street lights? If so, how high will they be and what wattage? Will they make the area light up like downtown Detroit?

In short, this is virtually Old Hurley’s only scenic resource. Why could it not have a conservation easement or be sold to the town through a bond or to a non-profit like the Open Space Institute or Scenic Hudson?

Anonymous said...

1) I just went for a long (well, relatively long) walk in the Mill Creek woods to see what was happening. It is so beautiful in there that I strongly urge anyone and everyone to do it while it's still there. It is posted but John Gill, who still owns it, is on record as saying it's okay for people to walk in the woods as long as they keep off the corn fields. Also, the creek is currently low enough that it's not a big production to get across it and the blackberry bushes aren't yet high enough to impede progress. Go to the rail trail parking lot (the future home of the "security pavilion") and turn left just before the entrance to the trail.

Bad things: new tractor-cut roads throughout, lots of trees chopped down, the top of the hill has been leveled, bore holes for water everywhere--I saw one labeled Bore No. 83.

Not so bad: no signs of activity over the past few weeks

Good: the hemlock woods are incredible. It is very hard to imagine that someone would be so incredibly greedy for money that he would chop these down.

Anonymous said...

Before you all jump the gun and say what you do't want listen to the facts when the public hearing comes along. You raise good questions and lets wait for the answers. No one wanted HITS in Hurley, drive up to SAugerties and see how beautiful that is.

Anonymous said...

Town-wide surveys conducted by the Comprehensive Plan Committee have shown that Hurley residents value, above all, the rural character of our community and the quality of our groundwater. These attributes are now placed at risk by overdevelopment and sprawl in all parts of town spurred by the current real estate boom.

The extent to which our way of life might be impacted will be determined by Hurley statutes governing zoning and subdivision. These laws were enacted in contemplation of the regular and moderate growth that has been the historical norm and will not protect us from the profit-driven fever that has beset our town.

I urge all concerned people to contact the Town Board to request that a moratorium be imposed on further development for a fixed period of time to allow for a thorough discussion of positive and negative aspects of growth by all of Hurley's residents and the subsequent encapsulation of that public sentiment in local law. If nothing is done, it will be impossible to reverse the consequences and regain our community as we know it.

Anonymous said...

Okay, so now Saugerties is seriously considering an enormous casino and we have a developer trying to build what is most likely the only GATED community of expensive houses within a good 50 miles of Saugerties for whom? The Mafia?