Water expert talks Troutbeck expansion at Planning Board

AMENIA —  Responding to residents’ comments heard at a series of public hearings regarding adaptive reuse plans for Troutbeck, the town planning board heard a report from a hydrogeologist, who presented findings at the regular planning board meeting on Wednesday, March 8.

Following this meeting, the planning board will continue to receive input from various local agencies and organizations, including the Conservation Advisory Council and the historical society. Those comments are due before the Wednesday, April 12, meeting of the planning board.

During a series of public hearings that ended on Feb. 8, the previous meeting of the planning board, residents had voiced concerns about the water table in the area, the effect that Troutbeck’s expansion plans might have on private wells, and the area’s aquifer. A study was conducted and reported by hydrogeologist Thom Cusack, vice president of WSP-USA of Shelton, Connecticut.

Since the hearings began, the scope of the plan has been reduced to 32 bedrooms, Troutbeck representative Rich Rennia reported, adding that the plan is in agreement with the town’s comprehensive plan of development.

“We are here to discuss next steps now that the hearing is closed,” Rennia said.

Planning board engineer John Andrews said that he had focused on hydrogeology out of responsiveness to issues raised, particularly about impact on neighboring wells. He said that he had read Cusack’s report and invited Cusack to share results with the planning board.

As to potential increase in water usage, Cusack expected an increase in demand from the present level of 7 gallons per minute to 14 gallons per minute. Troutbeck is served by two wells, Cusack reported, with a total yield of 35 gallons per minute.

Two aquifers are present in the area, Cusack said. One is a sand and gravel aquifer and the other a bedrock aquifer. He reported his findings that the proposed project would not adversely affect either aquifer.

The rate of return of consumptive water to the ground stands at 85%, amounting to a maximum of 3,000 gallons per day,  Cusack said.

Management of storm water runoff was also of concern. Cusack reported that all of the storm water (hydrologic flow) would remain on site. He said that unsaturated soil will treat any pollutant, so that pollutants will be removed naturally.

Planning board Chairman Robert Boyles raised a question as to why neighboring homes had reported depletion of well water supply.

Andrews replied that he had researched well-completion reports for the area’s residential wells. He said that 12 of 13 were bedrock wells, ranging between 150 and 700 feet in depth, with varying amounts of water generation. One well was found to provide marginal supply. Any flow of 5 gallons per minute or better is thought to be adequate.

Troutbeck’s wells are surface wells, Andrews said, less deep than the surrounding wells.

Planning board member Nina Peek summarized the finding: “There is no hydrologic connection between the shallow wells at Troutbeck and neighboring properties.

“The single underperforming well is not related to Troutbeck,” she added.

Peek reviewed a list of residents’ concerns she had noted during the public hearings.

Concerns had been raised about the number of major-draw events to be held at Troutbeck, possibly impacting traffic flow. Troutbeck has indicated that large weddings would be limited to 12 per year. Andrews suggested that perhaps Troutbeck could limit the numbers of other types of events also.

Planning board attorney Paul Van Cott of Whiteman, Osterman and Hanna of Albany reviewed concerns about endangered species and wildlife in the area being impacted. He said that Troutbeck has indicated intention to follow the impact avoidance plan filed with the application. One of the key elements of that plan, he said, is to schedule construction during the winter months.

About resident’s concerns over any plans for development of adjacent parcels of land, the planning board heard that no plans exist, neither in the short term nor the long term.

Planning board member James Walsh recalled concerns about privacy and noise voiced by neighboring property owners, asking whether landscaping and buffer plantings could be added between the open areas and the neighbors. Rennia responded that the idea could be looked at.

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