The Johnsburg Planning Board ended public comment on the much-discussed Ward Hill Subdivision proposal Monday, June 25 but deferred action on the plan until its July meeting to allow board members time to craft a draft decision regarding the project.
The 12-lot subdivision of more than 200 acres off of Peaceful Valley Road near Iroquois Trail and Chatiemac Trail has dominated the discussion at Planning Board meetings for five months as the Planning Board and project engineer James Easton worked through a host of issues. Initially, those living near the proposed project showed up en masse at Planning Board meetings to voice their concerns. Little by little, as the board worked through the issues worked to address residents’ concerns, the crowds diminished.
Monday, three residents appeared to voice their comments during the final public comment period before the months-long public hearing closed.
Stuart Hudnut wanted assurance that septic fields in the subdivision met the required minimum setbacks from streams and other natural water elements. They do.
Bob Bishoff wanted to reaffirm that there would be no blasting as part of the project construction. Easton confirmed that plans called for no blasting.
If, after getting into the project, crews discover a need for blasting, the developer will need to reappear before the Planning Board to get permission.
Ellen Smith wanted to make sure that the Planning Board incorporates residents’ concerns into its approval, including mention of the promise of no blasting, the septic field setbacks from the stream and some mention of noise restrictions in the form of hours of day crews would be allowed to work.
“Put it in writing,” Smith said.
After some discussion, Planning Board Chair Dottie Osterhout proposed deferring a decision until the board’s July meeting so that board members Roger Smith and Janet Konis could create a written resolution spelling out the conditions of approval for the project. The board informally agreed, and no vote was taken.
In other business, Wevertown resident Brian Herrington sought and received site plan approval for a self-serve roadside produce cart at his residence at 4052 Route 8. The property is the location of the former Sally’s Salon. Herrington intends to offer regionally grown produce from farms in the Champlain Valley, Potsdam area and Albany County. A couple of days a week, Herrington also proposes to offer take-out barbecue dinners.
Herrington operated a similar business in Selkirk, Albany County, before moving to Wevertown. He said he plans to be up and running as soon after July 4 as possible. His approval is contingent upon him obtaining the proper Health Department permit necessary for operating a take-out food establishment.
Sport shop, sort of
The board granted approval to a site plan application for a sport shop in Jim Masten’s North Creek barn. Masten doesn’t intend to actively operate a retail operation at the site. But he said he needs to have a sport shop in order to qualify for a Federal Firearms License. The license will allow Masten to buy and sell firearms at gun shows. His sport shop will have limited hours — the minimum number required to qualify as a retail operation. But he doesn’t intend to advertise and there won’t be a sign. Customers will be able to visit the shop by appointment only. Masten has a Curios and Relics License and has been buying antique guns for quite some time. The Firearms License will allow him to sell guns as well.
As Masten explained it, he often sees a gun he wants to buy but it’s part of a collection of, say, five guns. So he ends up buying the collection to get the one gun he wants. Then he has four other guns that he doesn’t want and needs to sell. The Federal Firearms License will allow him to go to gun shows and do that.
Iowa Pacific RR
During the privilege of the floor portion of the meeting, resident Bob Nessle urged the board to be vigilant in making sure the Iowa Pacific Railroad remains a good neighbor as it branches out into industrial rail hauling when it begins runs to and from Tahawus to bring mining tailings south.
“It’s an industrial railroad versus a tourist railroad,” Nessle said. “There’s a big difference.”
Specifically, Nessle said he was concerned that Iowa Pacific would park railcars that weren’t in service in and around the train station and the congestion could hamper the town’s tourist initiatives as well as take space from the weekly seasonal farmers’ market.
Planning Board Attorney Mike Hill suggested that perhaps the Town Board would be better positioned to reach out to the railroad and start a dialogue. As a federally regulated entity, the railroad doesn’t come under the jurisdiction of the Planning Board. Still, board member Roger Smith said he’d be happy to reach out to the railroad and share Nessle’s concerns.
The Planning Board will reconvene for its July meeting at 7 p.m. on July 23 in the downstairs meeting room at Tannery Pond Community Center.