‘We are scared’: Neighbors of proposed development raise concerns about flooding

— Photo from Heather Fox 

Local residents say a development proposed near Fly Creek in Altamont will only exacerbate a flooding problem the area has. 

ALTAMONT — The Altamont Zoning Board of Appeals has kept open the public hearing on a proposed 11-lot subdivision off of Western Avenue. 

CM Fox Living Solutions LLC is looking to build 10 new homes on the 11 subdivided lots (one lot has an existing home on the site) located on 13 acres of land bounded by Western Avenue, Schoharie Plank Road West, Gun Club Road, and Marian Court.

Three properties would be accessed by a shared roadway located between 133 and 137 Western Ave.; another three would be accessed directly from Western Avenue; and the remaining four lots would be accessible by a road placed between 115 and 117 Schoharie Plank Road West.

In August, the board approved four variances allowing for four keyhole lots to be built off of Schoharie Plank Road West with less road frontage than is required by code.

The March 26 public hearing touched on issues troubling the project — water woes chief among them — since it was introduced over a year-and-a-half ago.

Deborah Johnson’s home on Schoharie Plank Road West is set to be flanked by the newly developed access road. 

“At this point in time, when the creek gets high, there’s a storm drain on the left-hand side of the corner of my property,” Johnson told zoning board members; when the overflow from Fly Creek feeds into her storm drain, it will then “back feed” onto the proposed development’s property. 

“I’ve stepped down in there without it even raining,” Johnson said, and there’s been a significant amount of standing water. A letter and accompanying pictures from her neighbors, the Foxes, appear to validate Johnson’s account. 

The letter from Heather Fox said, “The creek cannot handle any more water than it already tries to on a single day of rain. And I invite you all to visit our home after just one simple day of rain. Our property has been referred to as ‘The Island’ by members sitting at these very meetings defending that this project is going to be OK.”

Fox also wrote, “What is so bothersome in this process is that no one sitting at the table is living in our shoes nor at these exact properties to see day in and day out what happens. We are scared. We fear the fact this project will be cutting through a known flood plain right next to our home.”

Project manager Rolando Andres sought to assuage residents’ flooding concerns.

“The main concern is that this catch basin here along Schoharie Plank Road will be overburdened,” Andres told the board. “With the proposed drainage, as well as the stormwater practices that we’ve designed here, our goal is to mitigate any runoff in this area by pitching them towards our practices: the individual rain gardens as well as the drainage swale along the northeast side of the parcels here off of Schoharie Plank Road.”

Andres said, “There’s another drainage swale for the houses off of Western that will be doing the same … all in an effort to decrease runoff to any adjacent property, as well as mitigate any sort of water issues that you folks may have already.”

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