Saratoga County

Neighbors fight planned houses

Opposition to the proposed Beaver Pond Village housing development is still going strong, four years
PHOTOGRAPHER:

Opposition to the proposed Beaver Pond Village housing development is still going strong, four years after the project was introduced.

On Friday, residents of the existing Geyser Crest development adjacent to the property called neighbors on the phone and created signs alerting them to a special meeting at 7 p.m. today for the city’s Planning Board to discuss the application’s Environmental Impact Statement.

It’s a critical point in the planning process for the 90-home development.

“We would like to stop this project, and we want to make sure that the Planning Board is looking at every bit of information that we have given them,” said Joanne Fluri, a resident of Quevic Drive whose property abuts the property that is proposed for development.

Saratoga East Avenue Associates, a group of New York City developers, cite open space that would be left as part of the project, noting that 70 percent of the 149 acres with walking trails would be left alone while the homes are clustered on 22 acres.

“We have addressed the residents’ concerns by doing this type of neighborhood and not developing the dense forests,” said Scott Varley, a spokesman for the developers.

Beaver Pond would be located just east of the 850-unit Geyser Crest development.

But residents still aren’t convinced the development is a good idea, saying any change is going to destroy wildlife habitat and add more cars to already congested roads.

“Every time I see more development, I think, ‘Did they think before they started to develop there?’ It’s just too much development,” Fluri said.

Karner blue and frosted elfin butterflies both inhabit the property, according to the developer’s environmental study. Residents said other animals that weren’t found in that study also reside on the property, such as wood turtles.

“We have pictures of them. We’ve had several wander out from back there,” Fluri said.

Lady-slippers and other endangered or rare plants live on the property, she said, and vernal pools provide a home for spring peepers and other frogs.

Geyser Crest residents know so much about the property because many believed it was a public preserve when they moved in and have gone for walks there, Fluri said. “They were told that when they had purchased their houses. They were surprised when they heard that a development was going in.”

Environmental studies conducted by the developer say impacts on wildlife and local roads, including Geyser Road, will be minimal. The new homes would put 72 more cars on the road in the morning and 97 more during the afternoon commute, the study said.

But Delarm isn’t satisfied.

“The traffic has already significantly increased on that whole road because of the over 1,000 new units in Milton,” she said.

Plus, Geyser Crest already has stormwater drainage issues, residents said.

Patrick Maher, whose Casino Drive home has sustained flood damage from runoff, said he’s worried that more development will strain the area’s already stressed stormwater system.

“Thirty years ago, they built drainage improperly in this section of the city,” Maher said. “And now, if this subdivision is approved, there will be significant additional amounts of water pushed into the wetlands, our existing homes and yards.”

Varley noted that the area is zoned for the proposed residential development.

“We think what we’ve done and our consultants think what we’ve done is create a new type of project that could be the role model for future neighborhoods in Saratoga Springs,” he said, noting the housing lots will be small.

Residents have already delivered a petition with 1,400 resident signatures opposing the development to the Planning Board and City Council.

At today’s meeting, the Planning Board could decide to accept the environmental statement as complete and move forward with the rest of the state environmental review process and later the subdivision application, reject it and end the development process, or ask more questions of the developer, said Jaclyn Hakes, principal planner for the city.

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