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Dan Hust | Democrat

Shalom Lamm, the developer of Seven Peaks, at the end of the meeting said he appreciated all the comments, good and bad, and would respond in writing.

Piqued at Seven Peaks

By Dan Hust
WURTSBORO — March 23, 2010 — A luxury housing development planned for the top of the Shawangunk Ridge near Bloomingburg garnered few supportive comments last week.
In fact, out of 18 speakers at Wednesday’s public hearing, only five (six, if one counts developer Shalom Lamm) told the Mamakating Planning Board that the Seven Peaks at Mountain Road project would be more benefit than bane to the area.
“This project has been nothing more than a good neighbor,” said Bill Trimble, who lives with his wife across Upper Road from Seven Peaks’ planned entrance.
Trimble, formerly Orange County’s business development director, joined Sullivan County Partnership President Tim McCausland and Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce President Terri Ward in lauding Lamm’s accomplishments and noting that this 49-home development would likely put little strain on town or school services yet contribute huge tax dollars to them.
“It’s a template for responsible development across the county,” agreed McCausland, referencing Lamm’s revitalization of the Wurtsboro Airport and efforts with the Mamakating Library.
Ward said the Chamber contracted with an independent land use planning firm to study Seven Peaks’ 653-acre project, and the unidentified company approvingly noted nearly 28 acres of open space and publicly accessible trails, preserving potentially historic and naturally valuable parcels.
But the bulk of speakers felt that the entire ridge is of such value that it should not be disturbed by this development, which eventually could include a 125-room hotel.
“Numerous resources of statewide significance will be put at risk,” Keith Labudde of the Shawangunk Ridge Coalition stated.
He and others worried that not enough study had been done of the future buildout of the property, including the hotel, in the draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) being commented upon that evening.
Labudde had a particular concern about wildfire potential, but most worries focused on the availability of drinking water.
“Forty percent of the homeowners are likely to have water at less than two gallons per minute,” said town resident and former Mamakating Supervisor Fred Harding. “... It appears that the problem may well be the recharge [rate].”
“Test wells proved there is limited water on site,” added Wurtsboro resident Jackie Broder, who also worried about lack of housing/hotel demand in this still-weak economy. “... The last thing this area needs is another deserted resort complex.”
Stormwater was a concern of various Basha Kill Area Association (BKAA) speakers, including its engineer, Andy Willingham, who called stormwater calculations “cursory” and lacking actual designs in the DEIS.
Plus, he and other speakers didn’t believe the one acre allowed to be cleared around each home would ensure the desirable views that would make Seven Peaks an attractive luxury development, and they faulted the DEIS for not explaining how that would be accomplished.
BKAA President Paula Medley and Summitville resident Eileen Haworth Weil urged the planning board to require an addendum to the DEIS to address these and other questions, and then to schedule another public hearing.
“Let’s not repeat our mistakes of the past,” said Weil, who also advocated for ensuring Seven Peaks has all its other reviews and permits completed before a final environmental impact statement is issued.
Some of the speakers pointed out they’re not against development – even this one.
“I’d like to see our town have more revenue,” acknowledged 25-year Wurtsboro resident Susan Erny, a BKAA member. “... I just think it needs to be considered more seriously. ... We don’t want to see damage that’s irreparable.”
Lamm, who initially gave a presentation about a development he said will not damage the ridge and will benefit the area, promised to respond in writing once all comments have been received.
Such comments are still being accepted, in writing only, until this Saturday, March 27. Submit them to Town of Mamakating Planning Board, 2948 Route 209, Wurtsboro, NY 12790.
Copies of the DEIS and related documents are available at the town hall in Wurtsboro or at

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