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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, December 18, 2008

Public has say on Kensington Woods

By Jo E. Prout

NEW SCOTLAND — After three years of study, the Kensington Woods planned-unit development proposal is finally before the public, but only in its initial stages.

The proposal is for a clustered residential development of 169 units on 184 acres on Hilton Road, at the site of an abandoned country club and golf course and near an abandoned gravel mine. Nearly 83 acres would be preserved as open space, according to the updated proposal.

The planning board here, as the lead agency for environmental review of the project, determined in November that the draft environmental impact statement prepared by the applicant was adequate to be reviewed by the public. The board is only required to hold one public hearing for the DEIS, but Planning Board Chairman Robert Stapf said that the board would hold two hearings, on Dec. 3 and Dec. 30.

The project met with public disapproval when it first came before the town in 2005.  At that time, the proposal was for a 282-unit development on 267 acres. The high-density project would have required a rezone in the area. A citizens’ petition signed by 170 residents asked the town board then to change the zoning at the site, but to reduce the density to lots with a two-acre minimum.

“We certainly had an interested audience in the board” and the public, said Mary Elizabeth Slevin, the attorney representing applicant Garrison Properties, after the Dec. 3 hearing.

Slevin invited the board and members of the public to continue to comment on the DEIS, prepared by Lansing Engineering of Malta. The document is 2,500 pages long.

“The task was trying to understand the information,” Slevin said about the document. The data required for the impact statement took two years to develop, she said. The town engineer then reviewed it for nine months, she said.

After the hearings, and once the planning board has accepted the DEIS, the project details will be laid out for the town. During that time, Slevin said, the applicant will present its subdivision cluster plan.

The project is to include 44 twin townhouse single-family homes, 72 moderately- to mid-priced single-family homes, 26 similarly-priced homes marketed toward families, and 27 mid- to higher-priced single-family homes, according to the Kensington Woods project narrative.

According to the narrative, the project would preserve nearly 45-percent of the site as open space. To do so, some of the proposed lots would abut neighboring property. The applicant will seek a buffer variance from the town, the narrative said.

“Long and arduous process”

Planning board member Kevin Kroencke told The Enterprise that only two members of the public attended the Dec. 3 hearing. He hopes that more people will come to the Dec. 30 hearing, he said.

Kroencke said that there is a question about the deadline for written comments. Some documents name Jan. 12, 2009 as the deadline, but board members also discussed Jan. 23 and other dates, Kroencke said.

The school district has already submitted comments. Other agencies and interested groups are also invited, or in some cases required, to give written comments, including the town and emergency service providers, Kroencke said.

Asked if the Kensington Woods project would be a good use for the site, Kroencke said, “I’ll wait and see. Until we hear back from everybody, I’m not sure.”

Kroencke said that he did not see trouble with the draft statement as presented.

“I certainly had questions,” he said.

The New Scotland planning board does not have a policy favoring cluster developments over traditional developments with larger lots, he said.

Board members had questions about the additional traffic that would be created on Hilton Road, and a possible change in the speed limit in that area.

“Everybody’s got questions,” Kroencke said.

“This has been a long and arduous process,” Slevin said. The applicant is looking forward to continuing with the project, she said.

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