Durst’s Hudson Valley Project holds its final scoping session

PINE PLAINS — Further soliciting the public’s feedback as to what should be included in the project’s scope, the Pine Plains Planning Board welcomed local residents and representatives to the second and final scoping session for the Hudson Valley Project on Saturday, July 31.

The Hudson Valley Project

Formerly known as the Durst Project, the application was submitted to the Planning Board by The Durst Organization in April, proposing a conservation/cluster residential single-family home subdivision with 237 residential lots on the 2,655 acres of property in Pine Plains at the former Carvel Country Club. The project encompasses 237 residential lots in Pine Plains and 51 residential lots on 445 acres in Milan, totaling 3,100 acres between the two towns.

As lead agency for the project’s review, the Pine Plains Planning Board scheduled two public scoping sessions: the first was on Wednesday, July 21, and the second was Saturday at 9 a.m. — both were held in the Stissing Mountain High School auditorium. 

Those who were unable to attend in-person will soon be able to watch a recording of the sessions on the Planning Board’s YouTube channel, “Pine Plains Planning and Zoning Boards,” and on the town website, www.pineplains-ny.gov.

Second scoping session

Similar to the first session, the public was given the opportunity to review plans, maps and other information in the lobby outside the auditorium and to pick up a copy of the scoping document before filing into the auditorium for the presentation. About 40 people were seated in the auditorium by 10 a.m.

Frank Fish, a planner with town consultants BFJ Planning, ascribed scoping as “the table of contents for the environmental impact statement [EIS]” and as “a comment on what you think is important to be in the scope and… what should not be in the scope.” 

Explaining why scoping matters in the required State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process, he emphasized “the key to this is no agency can take any action, at all, in terms of land use approvals until they make the SEQRA findings.”

Describing the project’s decade-plus long history and multiple incarnations, planner Stuart Mesinger from engineering firm, The Chazen Companies, said the current plan is “an as-of-right plan” that complies with residential zoning in both Pine Plains and Milan. 

Along with having most of the developments clustered around Lake Carvel, he highlighted the amenities for homeowners, the connective open space, the robust network of trails and other project amenities.

Public comments

As the first to speak, Pine Plains Superintendent of Schools Martin Handler voiced his support for the project as “an economic development engine” he believes will benefit local residents. He said he saw “only a positive impact of the economic development of this project relative to our school system.”

Drawing from the Pine Plains’ updated Comprehensive Plan, which focuses on the preservation of its rural small town character, town Supervisor Darrah Cloud asked for a study of the sustainability of said rural character.

“How do we keep being a small place with lots of freedoms?” she asked. “How do we prepare for the impact of so many people coming in, and in that, could there be a guide to us so that we can go forward, beginning soon, to prepare for something like this and keep our small rural character?”

Concerned about the environmental impact, Pine Plains Councilwoman Sarah Jones suggested expanding a section in the scoping document to include a discussion of greenhouse gases; an assessment of CO2 capacity; and a discussion of mitigation measures to reduce greenhouse gases during the project’s construction and after the development begins to operate.

Among the other comments and concerns, Gregg Salisbury voiced concerns about CO2 emissions through the construction of new homes while Brett Gold shared concerns about having the intersection of Mount Ross Road and Route 199 as an entrance.

By 11:07 a.m., the second scoping session concluded.

Comments can still be sent

Now that the scoping sessions are over, the public has until Tuesday, Aug. 10, to submit additional written comments either by email, to planningboard@pineplains-ny.gov or by mail, to Tricia Devine, Planning Board Secretary, Pine Plains Town Hall, P.O. Box 955, Pine Plains, NY 12567.

Residents may find the project description and map, notice of scoping procedures and a proposed Draft Scope for the DEIS on the Town of Pine Plains website, www.pineplains-ny.gov. Paper copies of the draft scope and project map may be found at the Pine Plains Town Hall front desk, located at 3284 Route 199, and at the Pine Plains Free Library, located at 7775 South Main St. (Route 83). Contact Devine via email or at 518-398-8600, ext. 3, for more information.

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