Cochecton major subdivision approved

By LINDA DROLLINGER
Posted 9/2/20

LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — “My family has been here for four generations. We can’t keep the town as it once was, but we can keep it the way most people want it to be.” Planning …

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Cochecton major subdivision approved

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LAKE HUNTINGTON, NY — “My family has been here for four generations. We can’t keep the town as it once was, but we can keep it the way most people want it to be.” Planning board chair Earl Bertsch’s remarks were made at an August 27 public hearing, the second of two, considering the application for Pine Meadow Farm major subdivision by developer New York State Land and Lakes. After the hearing, a roll call vote by the board was unanimous for approval.

Unlike the July 30 hearing, which focused on questions about further subdivision of the 17-lot, 92-acre parcel, this hearing’s questions were mostly about stormwater planning. The discussion was kick-started by Cochecton resident and professional forester Laurie Raskin of DHW Forest Consulting in Wurtsboro. Raskin noted that a 50-foot tree buffer beside the parcel’s only stream is small by industry standards and might be insufficient to prevent soil erosion.

The board informed her that there is no legal requirement for a tree buffer of any size; it was included, per Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) suggestion, mainly because the stream is a trout fishery, and shade provided by the buffer trees should keep water temperature cool enough for trout to thrive.

Stormwater planning involves multiple parties. First, the developer must provide a stormwater plan (SWP) that meets DEC requirements for the parcel as a whole. Developer’s representative Alan Lord noted that SWP requirements are incorporated into the deed, requiring each individual lot owner to develop a SWP for his own lot. It is the lot owner’s SWP that determines, in part, how many trees can be removed and how much of the property must be lawn, to prevent soil erosion and control water flow direction.

“What about tree harvesting and clear cutting restrictions?” asked Raskin. Board member Jim Crowley responded, “About one acre of clear-cut land is required for the house, the leach field, the septic system and the well.” Bertsch added that each lot owner should consult a forestation expert before removing trees.

Before the vote to approve, the four covenants of the resolution were read aloud. They state that a maximum of one single-family home will be permitted per lot. The house can be of any size, provided that it meets the New York State minimum requirement of 500 square feet. No commercial or industrial buildings are permitted. Deed restrictions, enforceable by lot owners, prevent further subdivision of the 17 lots. All lots will be sold as vacant lots; lot owners will decide if and when to build.

The next order of business was the proposal for a change-of-use application by the new owner of what was Tony’s Restaurant. The proposal, for five one-bedroom apartments and a small commercial space for either a food vendor or retail shop, met with skepticism from the board. Their main concern is that the property doesn’t afford sufficient parking space for the proposal as currently drawn.

“Five apartments means 10 parking spaces. Then, depending on what sort of business you have, at least three more spaces are required,” said Crowley.

“All lakefront business properties have one challenge from the get-go,” Bertsch said. “Not enough parking space.”

How many spaces are available for the proposed project will depend on the DEC, which will determine how close to the water rear parking spaces can be located, and Sullivan County Department of Public Works, which will determine where the property line meets State Route 52 in front of the building.

“You may have to scale back the project,” advised board member Neil Halloran.

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