Entry visibility for Feller Newmark subdivision not adequate, engineer says

E-mail to town highway department also suggests lower speed limit needed

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Revised sight distances for the entrance to a controversial proposed development on Feller Newmark Road show that the visibility falls short of required minimums, according to the developer’s engineer.

In addition, the engineer said, the road itself should have a lower speed limit and “dangerous curve” signs.

The new sight readings and recommendations are contained in an email that was sent by Michael A. Bodendorf of Hudson Land Design to Red Hook’s highway superintendent three days before last month’s overflow public hearing, at which residents overwhelmingly opposed the project.

The message, dated Friday, Aug. 17, was acquired through a Freedom of Information request and forwarded to The Observer. The letter was not received by the planning board office until the day of the public hearing on Aug. 20 and, since the applicant did not attend the meeting, no deliberation on the project by the board occurred at that meeting.

Bodendorf works for Landmark Properties, the developer hoping to build 11 homes on a cul-de-sac off Feller Newmark Road. His new measurements of sight distances at the proposed private road that would lead into the development were also taken on Aug. 17.

According to Bodendorf’s message, the measured sight distances are 189 feet to the left and 204 feet to the right. They were originally 193 feet to the left and 494 to the right.

“All sight distances do not meet County or AASHTO (American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials) standards without vertical [alignment] improvements and road shoulder improvements along the opposite side of the road,” Bodendorf wrote.

Minimum standards require at least 300 feet of visibility in both directions. The original distances were a source of contention during the Aug. 20 public hearing at the Red Hook Planning Board, attended by more than 90 people.

In addition, Bodendorf said that the road near the project is “deficient for a 35 mph speed limit” because of the tight curve. Based on AASHTO standards, Bodendorf recommends reduced speed sign as well as dangerous-curve signs.

He is also looking at changes that could be made to the road to improve visibility for the project entrance.

“The vertical curve just east of the entrance should also be flattened and the slope cut back on the opposite side of [Feller Newmark] Road to maximize sight distance,” he said.

Opponents of the project believe that adding an entrance on a “blind curve” for 11 homes, which are projected to generate 110 car trips a day, would be too dangerous and have urged the town planning board to reject the cul-de-sac plan and allow only three lots with a shared driveway. Neighbors have also said that the additional traffic on Feller Newmark would disrupt local farm operations.

The public hearing on the project continues on Sept. 17 at 7:30pm at Red Hook Town Hall.

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