Town Planning Board Moves Forward on Garrison Landing, Horsemen’s Trail Projects

Entergy Hearing April 19 

 By Liz Schevtchuk Armstrong 

In a session rendered low-key by what was not on the agenda, the Philipstown Planning Board Thursday (March 15) moved forward on details of the renovation of the former Guinan’s pub at the Garrison waterfront and set a date for a public hearing on plans for an Entergy facility in the North Highlands section of town. Initially, the board had intended to continue a public hearing on a controversial plan by the Spanu family to construct a large building on their property on Avery Road, Garrison. Because the Spanus were out of the country, the board postponed the continued hearing. When the first part of the hearing occurred in February, numerous neighbors and other critics opposed the construction of the building as currently designed, describing it as too large and obtrusive for a quiet rural area.

The board set April 19 as the date for a public hearing on plans by Entergy, operator of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, to establish a 20,000 square-foot facility along Mary Ellen Finger’s land, located on Horsemen’s Trail, a country road that curves off of and onto Route 9 in a rough “D’   shape. A Planning Board member, Finger left the room during the discussion and subsequent vote. As previously outlined by Entergy, the building would function as an emergency operations center in the event of a serious problem at Indian Point. But Planning Board members and Glennon Watson, of Badey & Watson Surveying & Engineering P.C., the applicant’s representative, noted March 15 that the facility might also serve training purposes.

R.J. Gainer, Planning Board consulting engineer, told the board that its prior concerns about landscaping and traffic had been addressed. He mentioned revisions to the original design to enhance use of greenery to screen the building and a thorough traffic study that considered such issues as visibility over distance and speed of vehicles as cars attempt to exit onto busy Route 9.

Regarding the Horsemen’s Trail and Route 9 intersections, Board Member Neal Zuckerman posed a “general safety question” about hazards without adding the Entergy facility. “It seems … it’s unsafe for anyone now,” whether the few residents dwelling along the trail, or for whatever personnel Entergy brings in the future. “I’m not saying I have an opinion about that” in terms of solutions.   “Even if you’re going in the normal flow” and not attempting a difficult left turn from Horsemen’s Trail, “it’s still a dangerous road, because traffic is flying down south on Route 9,” Anthony D. Merante, another board member, agreed.

“That’s not an issue,” Watson said. The applicant has offered “what the board thinks is appropriate mitigation,” Gainer explained. Merante concurred that steps proposed by the traffic study, such as keeping grass and growth cut back to prevent impairment of distance, would reduce any danger.

 Zuckerman also wondered if the view of the structure from the road had been minimized. “I don’t think they have necessarily minimized it,” Watson answered. “I think they’ve softened it, provided landscaping. It’s a commercial-industrial area.”

“For the applicant’s own benefit I think we would want to see it minimized,” Zuckerman replied.

Workshop sessions
Before adjourning, the board discussed, but took no definitive action on, a suggestion that the members convene in informal workshop sessions, outside of the regular monthly meetings, to meet with applicants and go over details of pending projects.

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