More work ahead on HVFS move, Horton Road subdivision
The Philipstown Planning Board welcomed fall by continuing its review of two large pending projects on Route 9: The Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival plans to transform The Garrison golf course property into its new home, and Horton Road LLC’s efforts to create an upscale 25-house subdivision in North Highlands.
Both projects consumed most of the board’s 2.5-hour Zoom meeting on Sept. 16. The panel’s next scheduled meeting is Oct. 21.
HVSF plans to relocate next year to The Garrison site from Boscobel, where it had held summer performances since 1988. It plans in several phases to create a cultural-arts campus on the property, which was donated by Chris Davis, who owns The Garrison. The golf course is closing. Along with Planning Board approval, HVSF needs a zoning change from the Town Board.
With approvals, HVSF plans to open its 2022 season in a temporary tent; repair entry roads; install a driveway and stream crossing from Snake Hill Road; upgrade the parking lots; add lighting; and do basic landscaping.
The Planning Board has been plowing through the project’s state-mandated Environmental Assessment Form, which, with appendices, fills 68 pages.
On Sept. 16, Aaron Werner and Chris Robbins, from AKRF, a consulting firm retained by the town, asked for more information from the applicants on the temporary tent; how the plans align with the zoning code’s Scenic Protection Overlay; and more on HVSF’s assessment of any wildlife habitat fragmentation.
In addition, Planning Board Member Neal Tomann and town engineer Ron Gainer inquired about the status of a small dam on the property; Gainer also sought more information on stormwater management.
Neal Zuckerman, who chairs the board, asked about vehicle trips to and from the site. “The volume of traffic is my primary concern,” he said. “I’d like to see the total number of people and, therefore, vehicles” when all operations are underway – performances, weddings and events, a hotel and restaurant, diners and so on.
Launched in 2014, plans for Hudson Highlands Reserve, envisioned as a small community with a horse-riding center, were addressed at a 2019 public hearing, where some residents expressed misgivings.
The project, on about 210 acres bounded by Horton Road, Route 9 and East Mountain Road North and South, then went into hiatus, as the sponsors, the New York City-based Horton Road LLC, drafted responses to the feedback. It scrapped the equestrian center, moved the location of a couple of homes and prepared a draft Final Environmental Impact Statement that the Planning Board took up in July.
AKRF advised the applicants to provide more details on the development’s effect on Route 9 traffic and the reaction to the plan by the state Department of Transportation, which must grant a permit. It also wanted more on stormwater management, wetlands-related matters and fragmentation and penetration of forests.
The developers’ recent mention of East Mountain Road North as an option for accessing the site drew attention. “I’m certain that coming out onto East Mountain Road North is something the public will not react to in a positive way,” said Board Member Kim Conner.
Richard O’Rourke, an attorney for Horton Road LLC, said using East Mountain Road North is only a possibility and that “it’s up to the Planning Board to decide what the access should be.”
Glennon Watson of Badey & Watson, a local surveying and engineering agency, said the developers would tinker further with the environmental impact statement before presenting a revised version to the board.