Johnsburg Town Hall
After months of discussion and extensive public comment from residents of nearby neighborhoods, the Johnsburg Planning Board voted unanimously Monday, July 23 to conditionally approve the Ward Hill Subdivision.
To assure residents had adequate input, the board allowed those attending Monday’s Planning Board meeting to offer additional comment on the proposed subdivision even though the months-long public hearing on the proposal was closed during the June Planning Board meeting.
“I’m not going to prevent you from commenting,” Planning Board Chair Dottie Osterhout said.
A handful of residents took the opportunity to speak, though much of the commentary traversed territory covered in previous meetings.
Beverly Hudnut, a member of the Chatiemac Village Homeowners Association, thanked the Planning Board for its thoughtful and detailed review of the project. She then urged the board to take into account the sentiments and concerns of the neighbors of the proposed subdivision as the board weighed whether or not to grant approval.
But Osterhout explained that the board could only consider whether or not the proposal meets the town code. Feelings have no bearing, she explained.
“Our decision is based solely on the town code,” Osterhout said. “Not whether we think it’s a good idea or a bad idea. …If the applicant meets the town standards, we cannot legally deny them.”
The approval came with a set of six conditions, many of which were in response to concerns of neighbors in the Chatiemac, Iroquois Trail and Peaceful Valley Road neighborhoods adjacent to the proposed subdivision.
Planning Board member Roger Smith came prepared with a draft resolution that he and board member Janet Konis worked on in advance of the meeting. After some extensive discussion that included input from Planning Board attorney Mike Hill to assure that details of the town code were formally incorporated in the process, the board settled upon a resolution approving the Ward Hill Subdivision with the following conditions:
- The project must obtain all approvals and permits required from the state Department of Environmental Conservation, the state Department of Health, the Adirondack Park Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers and those permits must be filed with the town of Johnsburg.
- Given that no blasting or hydraulic breaking is anticipated by the project engineer, if, after commencing the project, conditions are discovered that necessitate blasting or hydraulic breaking, the applicant must submit a plan for doing so to the Planning Board and gain approval prior to commencing any blasting or hydraulic breaking.
- Any construction, including tree clearing, grading, road building, or any other construction activity must be limited to the hours of 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- The deed language must be reviewed by the Planning Board.
- The final subdivision map must contain a block of 175 acres designated as the home owners association designated recreation area and must clearly state that no building may occur in that area. Additionally, the applicant must provide a timber harvest plan for the area prepared by a professional forester.
- Provisions of a bond to ensure proper construction and warranty of the road, storm control measures and other construction activities must be reviewed by the Planning Board and approved by the Town Board. The amount of the bond will be determined through negotiations between the town engineer and the project engineer.
Project engineer James Easton thanked the board for its favorable decision.
“We’ll be in touch,” Osterhout said.
Throughout the process, Easton said he could not offer a potential start date for actual construction. He indicated that the decision of when or even if to construct the subdivision was solely in the hands of the property owner employing him, whom he declined to identify.
Planning Board approval is a significant hurdle. Still, for the project to go forward, Easton said, he still needs permits for specific aspects of the proposal from the Board of Health and the Army Corps of Engineers, among others.
The Planning Board will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m., Aug. 6 in the lower meeting room at Tannery Pond Community Center to hold a public hearing on an application for a two-lot subdivision for a property on Route 28. That is the only issue slated for that meeting.
The next regular meeting of the Planning Board will be at 7 p.m., Monday, Aug. 27 in the lower meeting room at Tannery Pond Community Center.