December 9, 2008, Kingston Daily Freeman: DEC, town leaders discuss Belleayre Resort

DEC, town leaders discuss Belleayre Resort

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008 3:06 AM EST


A State Department of Environmental Conservation representative has contacted the supervisors of the two towns most affected by the proposed Belleayre Resort review.

The description of those exchanges differ between the supervisors of the towns of Shandaken and Middletown, but both were contacted and interviewed by a Department of Environmental Conservation representative about the project and how it might affect their respective communities.

According to Shandaken town Supervisor Peter DiSclafani, a meeting was called at the request of Daniel Whitehead of the Division of Environmental Permits for the Department of Environmental Conservation.

In Shandaken, where a large portion of the proposed resort’s property sits, the discussion was about the towns’ ability to review the imminent Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement and the socio-economic and environmental impacts of the resort, DiSclafani said.

“Among the concerns discussed was the importance of the zoning laws and comprehensive plan being in conformity, which would give the Planning Board a stronger planning foundation, and the ability of the town to have enough funding to properly review and/or proceed with the permitting process — funding that could hire professional guidance and technical support for the volume of material needed to be reviewed,” DiSclafani said in a prepared statement issued Friday.

Reached by phone Monday, DiSclafani said the state agency would not supply funds to the town to review the Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement, nor would the agency require the developers to supply funds to the town. Unlike earlier this year when the town hired a consultant at taxpayers’ expense to wade through the project plans for the first phase of the review, there will be no help this time because the town can no longer afford to hire a consultant.

“It’s going to have to be reviewed by the seven members of the town Planning Board,” DiSclafani said. He added that the planners, who may lack the expertise to handle the job, have the option of not participating in this stage of the review.

“That’s my fear,” he said.

The Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement is the developer’s response to all environmental concerns raised during several sessions in the fall of 2007.

“From our perspective, there is a formal project review process that Crossroads has carefully adhered to and will continue to adhere to,” said Joan Lawrence Bauer, a spokeswoman for developer Crossroads Ventures, on Monday. “We are confident this process will not put any undue financial burdens on the taxpayers of either Shandaken or Middletown when the Belleayre Resort proposal is reviewed by either town.”

The Delaware County portion of the project would lie within the town of Middletown, where Whitehead also spoke with Supervisor Len Utter.

Utter said Monday that he believed Whitehead was looking for general information on community character issues.

“He said he was calling to discuss the resort,” Utter said. “He wanted to know in general how the town felt about it. Nothing specific.”

Utter said he, in response, discussed “how Middletown was 50 years ago,” but did not explain further.

The proposed resort would straddle the border of Ulster and Delaware counties and would comprise two complexes — one with a 250-room hotel and 139 townhouse-style lodging units surrounding an 18-hole golf course; the other with a 120-room hotel and spa, 60 lodging units in two buildings and another 60 detached units in up to 52 buildings.

It was unclear why Whitehead, who could not be reached for comment, wanted the information.

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