An aerial rendering of China City, one of three projects in the Town of Thompson which have the potential to change the face of the town.
Plans for Kutsher's, China City
Story by Dan Hust
MONTICELLO December 20, 2013 A trio of significant projects in front of the Thompson Planning Board promise to change the face of the town, if created.
And next month, the public will have a chance to comment on all three, thanks to decisions made by the board at its regular Wednesday meeting.
A college of 3,000 students
China City of America earned a positive SEQRA (State Environmental Quality Review Act) declaration from the planning board, which means the project is expected to have large impacts on the development area in Rock Hill.
Project attorney Jacob Billig said the developers have completed an environmental assessment form and scoping document for the 575-acre project off Wild Turnpike (422 acres when non-developable land is excluded).
Originally a true “city” of homes, offices and even a theme park, the smaller plan now is to construct a college of 200 buildings serving 3,000 students, according to project planner Tom Shepstone.
Thirty-six of those buildings would house 2,456 dormitory units, while the rest would include classrooms, offices, 35 “benefactor” housing units, and 96 faculty housing units.
The planning board asked a variety of detail-oriented questions before setting a January 22 public hearing date (7 p.m. at the Thompson Town Hall) on the project’s scope.
That’s expected to generate an enormous amount of comment, considering the deep interest and concern in the Rock Hill community and surrounding areas.
Indeed, the Basha Kill Area Association and others have already sent letters and inquiries to the town about the massive project, which they fear could harm the environment.
Planning Board attorney Paula Kay promised this would be just the first of several opportunities for public comment.
China City documents are available for public viewing on the town’s website: www.townofthompson.com/Public+Documents.
Kutsher’s gets transformed
Veria Lifestyle reps unveiled a sketch of their vision for the re-creation of the former Kutsher’s Resort, which the company bought last month.
The illustration shows the replacement of the main entranceway with a walled garden, a new looping entrance off Kutsher’s Road, a spa in the former dining/convention area, and a museum devoted to ayurvedic treatment techniques.
Other landscaping and gardens are intended to create a pleasing aesthetic and to grow food for the holistic health resort. Up to 232 rooms 70 percent single, 30 percent double will be available.
Notably, the plan keeps many of the natural and manmade features that made Kutsher’s famous including the main hotel complex.
“They’re going to be retained and totally rebuilt,” engineer Glenn Smith told the board.
At some point, those structures will be stripped down to their steel skeletons, he explained, then refurbished.
In the meantime, Veria is seeking the needed permits to demolish about 18 other structures on the 1,300 acres it acquired, half of which contain asbestos that will need to be mitigated.
The planning board voted to become lead agency on the project and scheduled a public hearing for January 8 (7 p.m. at the Thompson Town Hall).
Solar at the Center
The same company creating a solar farm at SUNY Sullivan in Loch Sheldrake Heliosage hopes to do another with the Center for Discovery in Harris.
To be located on 12 acres at the corner of County Route 174 (Old Route 17) and Holmes Road, the array would feature 6'x3' panels to capture the sun’s rays for use as electricity in Center facilities.
The two-megawatt system would be visible from Route 17, considering any trees or shrubbery could impede the needed exposure to light.
The planning board scheduled a public hearing on the concept for January 8 at 7 p.m. at the Thompson Town Hall.