Landmark Properties has proposed carving back the hillside along the right side of Feller-Newmark Road (above), regrading the road to a more even slope and removing trees within 15 feet of the road’s edge.
Landmark Properties has proposed carving back the hillside along the right side of Feller-Newmark Road (above), regrading the road to a more even slope and removing trees within 15 feet of the road’s edge.

Subdivision developer proposes changes to Feller-Newmark road

Engineer agrees that cutting road grade, trees and hillside would provide better visibility for new road

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The developer of the proposed 11-unit development on a new cul-de-sac to be built on Feller-Newmark Road returned to the Red Hook Planning Board March 4 with more suggested changes on the controversial project.

The proposed driveway to the project, located on a tight curve, has been the subject of concern because of the sight line and the turning and stopping distances that are required under county and town law.

At the ongoing public hearing, Landmark Properties representative Michael Bodendorf described the plan.

“We were asked to survey the right-of-way lines, we have done that…. We also surveyed trees in the area that would be impacted by the road mitigation — any tree larger than 8 inches in caliper… There will be some trees that need to come down as a result of the mitigation,” he said.

The updated plan of action, which was first outlined in December, calls for cutting the road grade up to three feet to improve visibility, removing trees and bushes within the right-of-way within about 25 feet of the road center, and regrading the slope inside the curve on the south side of the road. The latter action may require a 100-foot retaining wall if the developer is unable to get permission from the landowner to work outside the right-of-way.

All the actions proposed would resolve the sight line issue, Bodendorf said. William Fitzpatrick, the independent traffic expert hired by the planning board to review the plans, was critical of the original traffic submission by the applicants at the Dec. 17 meeting. But at the March 4 meeting, he said he had reviewed an updated submission that now included the necessary information.

“They have, with this set of plans, shown they can reach the minimum criteria for sight lines,” Fitzpatrick told the board. “I am concerned that you can cut that much [from the road grade] and do your work within the right-of-way and have the drainage work on top of that, but you say you can, and [the plan] is stamped [by an engineer], so I assume you can.”

The developer is also recommending advisory speed signs of 30MPH or lower for the curves. The current speed limit along Feller-Newmark is 35MPH.

A number of neighbors from around the proposed development attended the meeting. Their opposition to the plan has cited the character of the neighborhood, concerns about drainage, the increase in traffic and the lack of access to the dozens of acres of potential farm soils on the site.

“Siting standards say that any development must be located [within the property] without impeding agricultural uses of the property,” said Robert McKeon, who owns a farm that straddles Feller-Newmark Road. “Obviously, having a private road with only a 15-foot outlet impedes the agricultural use of that property.”

Now that a plan has been proposed that could solve sightlines issue, there remains the question of which board — the town board or the planning board — decides whether to approve the changes and authorize the project to move forward. The issue is being researched by the town’s attorneys.

The project will return again at a future meeting for further discussion.

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