Story by Katie Bisaro
The Village of Warwick Planning Board held a Public Hearing on Thurs., Jul. 19 to listen to the comments and concerns of residents regarding the proposed Village View subdivision to be located in the area of Locust St. and Woodside Dr.
Planning Board Chairman George Aulen explained the purpose of the hearing and the allowable commentary on the Village View matter. The hearing was being held as a result of a positive declaration of possible environmental impacts from the project.
Aulen explained that the hearing was not a question and answer session, that the Planning Board would be listening to comments to “learn what the Planning Board may not know,” and to raise issues pertinent to the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS).
He added that written comments would also be taken for 10 days after the close of the public hearing.
Overview of Village View Project
Kirk Rother, the engineer representing applicant Robert Silber, gave an overview of the project to those in attendance.
The proposed subdivision consists of 45 single-family lots on just over 20 acres. The land is currently zoned Residential and will have municipal water and sewer services. An alternative plan calls for three of the lots to be slated for two-family “affordable housing” homes.
The 45 lots will each be approximately 10,000 square feet in size (just under a half acre) and there will be 6.2 acres of open space (around 30% of the total) in the proposed neighborhood.
The homes, designed by architect Joseph Irace, will emulate cottage-style village homes, closer to the street with driveways and garages in the rear of the home. Later in the hearing, it was noted that the price point of the homes would be $450,000 to $495,000.
Potential Environmental Impacts Identified
The significant environmental impacts that were identified in the DEIS included wetlands, the stream that runs through the property, endangered species, water and sewer, schools, taxes, traffic and archeological resources.
Rother noted that the Planning Board determined that the DEIS was complete enough to take public comment so as to address these issues which would lead to a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).
The Planning Board members had no initial comments and Aulen turned the floor over to those who had signed up to speak at the hearing. Several members of the surrounding neighborhood spoke, raising concerns about traffic and safety, flooding, endangered species and lots designated for affordable housing.
Residents Express Concerns on Various Issues
Raymond and Lugene Maher of 52 Woodside Dr. had a list of three major concerns they would like addressed with regards to this project: the road that accesses Woodside Dr.; the size of the proposed subdivision; and environmental issues.
The Maher’s live directly across from where “Road A,” the road into the development, will access Woodside Dr. According to Lugene Maher, a previous project from 10 years ago had not been approved because of the access road, which is the same road currently being proposed, due to safety concerns and the road’s proximity to the wetlands and headwaters of the stream.
Safety Concerns Raised
Maher pointed out that the safety issues have not improved in the intervening years as the area has become more densely populated. Additionally, Crescent and Woodside Drives have become “cut-through” streets making the area heavily traveled.
“The intersection, as I’m sure the Board is aware, at Locust, Sleepy Valley and Woodside, has been a very dangerous intersection for years…you have three residences in very close proximity to a road in the narrowest part of Woodside Dr. with 45 homes [resulting in] close to 200 more cars,” said Lugene Maher.
Potential for Increased Flooding
The next concern addressed by Mrs. Maher was the flooding in the area during storms and hurricanes, including surrounding properties that flood and Woodside Dr. becoming impassable.
“You have flooding now with that land untouched,” she said. “Imagine when it’s developed and you now are taking down all the trees.”
The Mahers requested that the Planning Board not approve Road A access on Woodside Dr. and to conduct a traffic safety study.
Regarding the size of the proposed development and its impact on the infrastructure including traffic, water and sewer, and potential flooding, the Mahers asked the Board not approve the plans as presented and to cut the size of the development in half.
Mrs. Maher also raised environmental concerns such as the existence of a bat habitat, a natural spring and a stream on the property.
“We would like some assurance that all those wildlife environmental concerns have the appropriate protection in place before any land clearing or development are done,” she said, also mentioning the possibility of the presence of bog turtles.
Rother responded in part to the Mahers by explaining that the wetlands have been delineated by the Corps of Engineers and filed with the Planning Board. He added that the Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will be involved in the process.
Proposed ‘Affordable Housing’ Alternative
Sara Beth Chionsini, a resident of San Francisco, CA who summers in Warwick, asked whether the “affordable housing” aspect of the neighborhood was required or a voluntary action by the developer.
Rother responded that the applicant would like to build a subdivision with 45 lots, all fee simple, and none designated as “affordable housing.” However, Orange County Planning weighed in during its review and encouraged incorporating some type of affordable housing. The Village Board also asked the applicant to explore that option.
The new, alternative plan called for three of the 45 lots to be cut in half in order to build two-family townhouse units that will look similar to the single family homes. This will result in an increase to 48 dwellings.
“That plan, the affordable [housing] plan, is an alternative in the DEIS and I don’t think it’s necessarily been reconciled yet…but it is an alternative we’ve prepared at the Village’s request. It is not the applicant’s preferred alternative,” Rother said.
Storm Water Management Discussed
Joseph Krasniewicz of 63 Maple Ave. spoke about his concerns with storm water management during high rain events and storms. He pointed out, as others who spoke before him, that Woodside Dr. floods and can become impassable. According to Krasniewicz, the overflow from Woodside flows into a six-foot wide stream that leads to the back of his property. His home has flooded with up to six feet of water.
Krasniewicz also noted that two of the proposed retention ponds are north, or uphill, of the property and would do nothing for storm run-off from the development.
Vicky and Gus Hague, of 14 Locust St., concurred with questions and concerns already raised by others at the hearing. Mrs. Hague’s concern stemmed from what she felt was a lack of communication by the Planning Board regarding the project, she had only heard by “word of mouth.”
Mr. Hague added to the concerns regarding traffic and safety – the narrow “country” roads with numerous pedestrians, no sidewalks nor any place to put sidewalks so people must walk in the streets.
Hague said that the smaller lot sizes and resulting increased number of homes (from the plan presented in previous years) will add a significant number of people and vehicles to the area.
Communication Regarding Public Hearings
Rother explained, with regards to the communication issue, that the DEIS phase of the project requires a public hearing and then the subdivision application itself also requires a public hearing.
The subdivision public hearing will require that everyone within 300 feet of the project be notified by certified mail.
All information regarding this project is available in the Planning Board office. Maureen Evans, Planning Board Secretary, also noted that information regarding the current hearing was published in the Warwick Dispatch. Information regarding upcoming meetings on the Village View project will be available on the village website at www.villageofwarwick.org.
Each Issue Raised Will Be Addressed
Rother said that each comment and question raised in the public hearing process will be addressed. The answers are reviewed by the Planning Board and if they are to the Board’s satisfaction, the FEIS will be completed.
Public Hearing Held Open Until Aug. 23
On a motion from Jesse Gallo, seconded by James Patterson, the public hearing on the proposed Village View project was continued until the next meeting of the Planning Board on Thurs., Aug. 23 at 7:30 p.m. in Village Hall, located at 77 Main St. in Warwick NY.