Bethel Zoning Law Raises Controversy
By Nathan Mayberg
KAUNEONGA LAKE The noise last week before the Town of Bethel Planning Board meeting was supposed to be about the new law on dog kennels. And it did get a little loud on that subject. But the major impact on the town will be just as equally felt if not more so by the dozen or so development proposals brought forth by engineers and lawyers that evening.
However, to those in the dog kennel business, the new law is a major affront. There was some public protest by the owners of such kennels, or those who own more than four dogs who could be impacted by the new law.
Planning board chairman Leon Smith attempted to assuage the critics by telling the crowd that the new law would affect new kennels only. Old ones would be grandfathered in, he stated. But that may only be limited to seven years. Any expansion would have to meet the new code.
The new local law was introduced by the town board last month and was sent to the planning board for their review. The planning board voted unanimously to recommend the law. The town board held a public hearing January 18 on the law.
The new regulations are quite strict and specific on limiting the operations of the kennels. It adds 11 new requirements to the existing code. Conceivably, the code could prohibit any new kennels from ever opening again in the town. Kennels would be deleted from being considered a permitted special use in the rural farm district. Anybody who owns more than four dogs is considered to be the owner of a kennel.
For example, kennels would be required to be placed on a minimum lot size of 10 acres. No more than 20 dogs will be allowed unless there is one acre per dog. In addition, it would become unlawful to own a dog who barks for more than five minutes during the day. One of the critics of the new described it as “unconstitutional.”
Projects on Tap
The largest project in front of the board that evening was a 195-unit, single-family proposal between State Route 55 and Old White Lake Turnpike. The public hearing will take place at the board’s next meeting on February 13. It had to be delayed due to a cancellation by engineer Randel Wasson.
Other major proposals include an application for a major subdivision off Chapin Trail by Woodstone Lakes Development. Dubbed “The Preserve at Chapin Estates,” the new and final phase of the controversial project will total 180 lots. Each lot will run between five to seven acres, according to engineer Glenn Smith. The homes will be built on the last remaining section of land between Toronto Reservoir and Swinging Bridge Reservoir owned by Woodstone Development, said Smith.
Two miles of private roads will be constructed. There are approximately 70-80 acres of wetlands throughout the property. A public hearing was held last month. A draft environmental impact statement has been prepared. Smith is awaiting comments from various agencies before going forward with a final environmental impact statement. The development would be accessed by Pine Grove Road and Route 55.
At the meeting, planning board member Susan Brown inquired as to whether Pine Grove Road was wide enough to handle the project. Somebody announced it had just been widened that day.
A curious 40-lot subdivision for mixed uses on Mattison Road and Route 17B by White Lake Estates (out of New York City), was presented by engineer Steve Lopez. However, Lopez said he was under orders not to release the name of the developers.
According to Lopez, the development would entail 38 homes on 15 acres in an area zoned for multi-family use. They would include single-family homes, as well as duplexes, triplexes and even quadruplexes. In addition, 10,000 square feet of commercial space is being proposed.
A shopping center is being proposed on five acres at the corner of Airport Road and State Route 17B by Les Sharoff and Shelley Roberts. Businesses could include an 8,000 square-foot grocery store, food emporium, pharmacy, bank, hardware store and 12,000-square foot nursery.
On a connecting lot, Sharoff wants to build 10 units of multi-family townhouses in a two-story building on two acres. Engineering for a septic system has not been done yet, but that didn’t stop Smith from setting a public hearing for next month for the combined proposal.
Jonathan Hyman, of Smallwood, complained about the speedy process considering the engineer’s plans were not yet ready. He also cited the location of the project as being an “extremely dangerous” intersection. Smith responded to Hyman by telling him that he was satisfied with the drawings and that Hyman could voice his comments at the public hearing.
At Mount Hope Road, near Route 17 B, a 46-unit development of duplexes and single-family homes is being proposed by Michael Brett of New City. The plans include a pool, community building and recreational units on 45 acres of land.
Engineer Ralph Lane presented the plans of Yeshiva Tifereh to expand their existing bungalow colony by two single family units on Lieutenant Brender Highway in Ferndale. A public hearing was set for next month.