Letters: Feller-Newmark proposal should be a wake-up call

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When developers put pen to paper to garner approvals they often highlight a community’s lack of preparedness in ensuring safe and appropriate development. Such is the case with a Long Island company’s proposal for a major subdivision off Feller-Newmark Road.

The plans call for construction of a new intersection at the most dangerous curve on our roadways. Just how severe is it? The developer’s own engineer has said the horizontal curve cannot be made to meet guidelines for the traveling speed of the roadway. There’s a reason why four cars have left the road just during the course of the review period alone – it’s an incredibly severe curve that many drivers can’t navigate.

Fortunately, these accidents have been without incident, since the vehicles simply end up on the neighbor’s lawn. Approval of the project however, would place 106 cars each day in that very path – virtually guaranteeing future injuries and fatalities. So then how is it possible that this could be legal? The Town’s Highway Specifications and Planning documents don’t prevent the possibility of intersections being proposed for the portions of our roadways that are substandard in safety design – they can happen anywhere a developer proposes them and we’re left to suffer the consequences.

In response to the tragic accident that claimed the lives of two young college students, our local officials have pledged to address road safety concerns. There’s a quick and simple step available to them and we hope they act.

The Town’s Highway Specifications are currently being rewritten and any update should include establishing criteria for where intersections can take place. In the meantime, the Town Board should consider instituting a moratorium on new roads until such minimum standards are established and adopted. Once built, dangerous intersections, such as the one proposed, will continue to pose an obvious risk to our residents. It’s our hope that the Planning Board will also in the meantime use its authority to deny the application. To do otherwise would be reckless.

Many of our residents have inquired how a major subdivision is even possible on this property since it is part of the new Agricultural Business District. The primary reason for the establishment of a Centers and Greenspaces Plan was to protect our important farmlands, and therefore a major subdivision isn’t even possible. Or is it? A highly watered-down adopted zoning that allows for as many as 40 homes on the Greig farmlands, for instance, — with lots of flexibility thrown in — may actually lead to more development of and on our unprotected farms, not less. This reality does not sit well with many who have learned the specifics of the new zoning and exposes the risk to our valued agricultural and scenic assets.

Our local officials should re-examine their resolve to ensure their compromise does not compromise away our future. We hope you and they agree that Red Hook is a place well worth fighting for. Its future should be one where safety and community preservation are key components. After all, don’t we have the obligation to our children to ensure that for them?

The Red Hook Community Preservation Alliance

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