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Delaware development proposal draws big crowd

By Fred Stabbert III
Posted 8/20/21

HORTONVILLE – Residents of the Beechwoods section of the Town of Delaware turned out in full force for Wednesday night’s Planning Board meeting to hear a presentation about a proposed …

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Delaware development proposal draws big crowd


HORTONVILLE – Residents of the Beechwoods section of the Town of Delaware turned out in full force for Wednesday night’s Planning Board meeting to hear a presentation about a proposed 60.3-acre, 8-lot subdivision planned for the former Long Farm at the corner of Lux and Gabel roads.

Although not a public hearing and just in the preliminary planning stages, residents not only got to listen to a presentation by Kevin Wall of Reilly Engineering but also got to meet the owner of the property, Gavin Fries, who drove up from New Jersey to attend the meeting.

Planning Board Chair Warren Blumenthal told the standing-room-only crowd, which numbered 32, that “This is not a public hearing, but I will allow a few questions.”

Zeke Boyle, a resident of the Beechwoods, asked, “Are private developers held to the same [environmental] standards [as a town project]?”

Town Attorney Ken Klein advised that the development is subject to a SEQRA review which is a NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation State Environmental Quality Review Act, which is designed to determine whether any actions taken by a development will have a significant effect on the environment.

Wall also told the planning board that the project had completed an environmental short form.

Planning Board Chair Blumenthal said the application – which was filed with the town Wednesday night – will be sent to Town Planner Tom Shepstone for review.

He will give guidance to the town planning board on what further issues need to be addressed before the plan is officially reviewed by the planning board and a public hearing is set.

Midway through the presentation, project owner Fries walked to the front of the room and introduced himself to the audience.

“I have developed many properties in New York [City] and Brooklyn,” Fries said. “Our plan is for single-family homes, approximately in the 1800-square feet, three bedroom range. Nothing too grand.”

Fries went on to say that he plans to keep the “farm in tact,” with a caretaker who will manage the farm for the owners to use. He said it could contain a greenhouse and gardens.

Lux Rd. resident Elizabeth Finnegan asked about how the new development would impact the water table in the Beechwoods.

Klein responded that engineers need to analyze that and give the planning board guidance.

Fries also spent nearly an hour after the meeting, introducing himself to his “new neighbors” and answering questions about the proposed subdivision.

Wall, of Reilly Engineering, gave residents a chance to study the drawings of the development after the meeting, and answered their questions. The plans are also available at the Town of Delaware Hall.

Residents should call Lillian Baurnfeind at 887-5250, ext. 101 to make an appointment to review the plans.

“I started spending time up here because I was doing camping trips,” Fries said, in explaining how he found the area and purchased the property back in March.

The initial project idea that the subdivision would contain dozens of homes was substantially cut back and Wall explained that the 8 lots in the current plan will average 5.8 acres in size with the smallest being 3.5 acres and the largest 7 or 8 acres.

There will be five new entrances built off Gabel Rd. to allow residents access to their properties, Wall said.

“My client picked locations that offered good views,” Wall said.


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