By Alberto Gilman
Traffic impacts, light pollution, questions about blasting, and concerns over not receiving notices were addressed during a public scoping session held by the Town of Newburgh Planning Board at the Local 17 Meeting Hall at 451 Little Britain Road on Thursday, December 15.
The scoping session was the first conducted public hearing by the town planning board to allow community members and stakeholders to comment on the project and to raise environmental issues or project concerns. The town planning board is serving as the lead agency for the environmental review for the project. A draft scope document with site plans is available on the town website for public review. Comments from the public were asked to be mailed or emailed to the town board by Tuesday, December 20.
Dominic Cordisco of Drake Loeb PLLC who serves as the planning board attorney, provided a brief overview of the scoping session process and what would follow later on. “This project [Britain Woods] requires approval from the Town of Newburgh Planning Board, as well as various other agencies. The Town of Newburgh Planning Board has already determined that this project has the potential for one or more significant environmental impact. It’s an important key distinction, because that provides the planning board and public with a process that is meant to identify the potential environmental impacts, as well as proposed mitigation and alternatives that the board can consider as the process moves forward,” Cordisco said. “There’s a document, it’s called an EIS, that’s an environmental impact statement, that will be prepared. It hasn’t been prepared yet but it will be prepared by the applicant, it will be reviewed by the board and then made available to the public for public comment and also during the public hearing. That process happens later.”
The Britain Woods project, identified at 442 Little Britain Road, was represented by Ross Winglovitz of Engineering and Surveying Properties, PC. This proposed project, on a 48 plus or minus acre parcel, seeks the development of 258 multi-family units. In total, there are 11 buildings proposed to be constructed for this project. “There’s 110, one bedroom [units] 74 one bedroom/den [units] and 74 two bedroom [units],” said Winglovitz.
Two access points were proposed to be across the street from the meeting hall and further up the road heading into the City of Newburgh. The increase in traffic called for concern from several residents.
“My concern is just the entrance, the main entrance. There’s already traffic on that road, like others have said, and my mother [who was present] herself has been in a car accident for waiting to get into a driveway,” said Tanya Zhunio.
According to Ken Wersted of Creighton Manning Engineering, LLP, the board’s traffic consultant, the applicant will need to seek a permit from the New York State Department of Transportation in regards to the location for their proposed entrances. Eight intersections surrounding the property and studies of current and future traffic patterns will be conducted by the applicant’s traffic consultant.
“It’s a lot of traffic here. We’re going to get a lot of traffic,” said Sal Vargetto. “In regards to the letters being out, the [town] tax assessor should do a little bit of a better job, maybe extend that 500 feet.”
Addressing the notices sent out, which also led to other comments from the community, the town code states that properties within 500 feet of the project are notified according to Patrick Hines of MHE Engineering. Cordisco followed up with clarification on the notification process.
“If you’re more than 500 [feet] you wouldn’t receive notice under the town requirements. So we are bound by the town code requirements that say these particular people within this criteria have to receive notice,” said Cordisco. “In addition to that, there are technically no notice requirements for a scoping session, but the [planning] board did treat this as a public hearing to make sure that notices were sent out.”
The project has shown various amenities such as athletic courts, mixed-use spaces and a clubhouse. 330 garage spaces are proposed for the project. Sewer services will be provided via the City of Newburgh’s Sewer Treatment Plant and water would be provided via an extension from Old Little Britain Road.
“I believe in your past November 3 minutes, you talked about the fact that the water main supply, they’re the sole source of the City of Newburgh water supply and they sit fairly close to the surface,” said Erika Gallagher. “I can’t imagine doing lots of blasting to level this property and do damage that’s going to shut down schools and possibly jeopardize the City of Newburgh residents water supply.”
Addressing the blasting concerns, Winglovitz stated that various tests and an investigation would be conducted to determine a need for blasting. If blasting is needed, further analysis would be conducted and residents would be notified of the blasting.
Matt Gallagher asked before the planning board why the project had not been completed as it was before the town in 2008. According to Winglovitz and Hines, the project did not proceed and had been withdrawn. The project itself was larger than what was currently proposed.
Addressing light pollution concerns, Cordisco addressed the public that the light level will be reviewed by the applicant and light fixtures and height fixtures would be reviewed also. Hines also stated that the town has specific lighting design requirements.
With no further comments from the public and planning board members, the planning board concluded the public scoping session on the Britain Woods project and will be reviewing the project heading into the new year. As people left for the evening, Erika and Matt distributed surveys to the community members who shared concerns with the project. On Tuesday, December 20, an email was sent to the town supervisor, town elected officials, regional elected officials and other town departments by the Gallaghers to further voice their concerns on the project.