During the public comment session at the Montgomery Town Board meeting on Thursday, Feb. 18, residents urged the Montgomery Town Board to postpone voting on an amendment to their 2006 agreement with Vistamor at Montgomery (Vistamor).
Vistamor is an active-adult community (ages 55 and older) that was approved in 2008. It will be located on a 191-acre site off of Route 208, bordered by Goodwill Road. The goal of the amended agreement is for the town board to work with the project’s developer to make sure that there is enough water for the entire town.
Montgomery Town Supervisor Brian Maher confirmed that Water District 1 within the town currently has a capacity of 216,000 gallons per day. The Vistamor wells capacity would be 253,400 gallons of water per day, more than doubling the town’s water capacity. If through the agreement, the town allows the Fox Hill Bruderhof Community to access their water and they build a water tank at Scott’s Corners, those would increase the town’s water capacity by another 125,600 gallons per day.
“We would be looking at potentially creating more capacity for our water district, which is something that’s important for future growth...,” Maher said. “[We want] to utilize this development to maximize the benefit to our community and our infrastructure.”
When Vistamor was first proposed to the town board in 1999, residents complained about the potential impact on traffic, water and sewer services.
“You should wait until citizens can attend instead of Zoom,” Joan Buck Smith, a Village of Montgomery resident, wrote to the board. “A huge group of citizens fought this project 20+ years ago. So many people came to town hall for town board and planning board meetings, they had to be held in the VC cafeteria. ‘Citizens for Montgomery’ was the group that fought against ‘Village at Goodwill’, now called Vistamor.”
Residents were not allowed to attend the meeting in person on Feb. 18, as a town employee tested positive for COVID-19. As a result, town hall was closed from Tuesday, Feb. 16 through Thursday, Feb. 18.
Smith added that the town board should take additional time to make a decision, as none of them were on the board when Vistamor was first pitched. The town has also gone through several town attorneys over the past two decades, so there is little knowledge of the project.
Smith is concerned that when Vistamor is built, there will not be enough water for everyone in town.
“Village at Goodwill (Vistamor) had to do a water study of the effect of drawdown of their wells and the effect it would have on all of the wells of the 90+ adjacent properties,” she wrote to the town board. “I believe they guaranteed us we could get their water if our individual wells dried up. Is the town going to do that? Village at Goodwill water was to be used to supply their 400+ homes that were proposed. How many businesses will now be in the new proposed water district. They were to build a water tower on Hawkins Drive. The warehouse plans still have room for the tower. I understand the town is proposing a water tower at Scotts Corners above the Walden Savings Bank. If Vistamor is ever built, how many more businesses will be using this water?”
Maher noted that he would have Michael Aiello Jr., the engineer for the town, give Smith a call to alleviate any of her concerns regarding the water supply. Maher added that Vistamor might have to do another study on the effect of their wells on all of the wells of the adjacent properties.
Don Berger, a founder of citizens group Residents Protecting Montgomery agreed that the discussion regarding Vistamor should be held in person.
“This here discussion should not happen during a virtual meeting,” he said. “I really think that the public needs to be present.”
Out of respect to the residents’ wishes and because they were in no rush, the town board chose not to vote on the amendment to their agreement Montgomery Group LLC regarding Vistamor.
“We have no plans to vote on this tonight,” Maher said. “We are very close to voting on it and we believe we will at the March 4th meeting.”