HUNTER — Jewett and Hunter held a joint public hearing Wednesday to discuss the expansion of Hunter Mountain.
The public hearing, held at Hunter Town Hall, was well-attended, Hunter planning board chairwoman Sarah Killourhy said.
“We received some excellent positive feedback from residents,” Killourhy said, adding the public hearing was required by Hunter town law.
The board submitted a negative declaration, which declared the project will have no negative impacts on the environment.
“It’s not to say that cutting down a bunch of trees wouldn’t be negative for the environment,” Killourhy said.
The study is geared more toward long-term environmental threats, like water pollution or erosion, she said.
At the meeting, the town submitted a state Environmental Quality Review for the 64 acres of land that the project, dubbed Hunter North, will be built on.
Hunter Mountain is working with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection to keep the plans moving, Killourhy said. The department sent a notice of completed application to the board Friday, which means the DEP received the negative declaration and is now looking at site plans more closely.
The project is almost entirely situated in the town of Hunter, but the village is involved because the route to the new trails will take residents through the village, Killourhy said.
“We are hoping this brings some businesses into the village as well,” she added.
Jewett Planning Board Chairman Greg Kroyer attended the meeting because the trails will infringe on Jewett’s boundary. Part of the access road and five to 10 parking spots will be in Jewett, according to the site plans. No other part of the project is crossing town lines.
“This application has been before our planning board before,” Kroyer said. “Overwhelmingly, those who spoke [at the hearing] were in favor of the project.”
Kroyer believes the board has enough information to vote on the project at the next Jewett planning board meeting scheduled for Feb. 1.
Hunter is hoping to vote on the project at its next board meeting scheduled for Feb. 6, but the board is waiting for word from the applicant, Killourhy said, adding she expects a vote to happen no later than the March 6 scheduled meeting.
“Right now, we want to make sure the site plans are what the applicant wants,” Killourhy said. “If they decide to make changes, they will have to come to the board and get those approved.”
A negative declaration probably would not have to be fixed for minor site plan changes, Killourhy said.
The expansion will build five new trails, a new parking lot with 268 spots, a pedestrian bridge and a new access road off Deming Road.
Jewett officials expressed concern over the access point at Deming Road last week. County Route 23A is a 55 mph zone, Jewett Town Supervisor James Pellitteri said. The state road is the access point to Deming Road. Deming Road’s speed limit could not be confirmed by state police Friday as no speed limit signs are posted on the dead-end road.
“I called three patrolmen up in Jewett and one told me they haven’t ever written a ticket on Deming Road,” Troop F Public Information Officer Trooper Steven Nevel said Friday. “It’s a small, windy road.”
Pellitteri could not confirm the speed limit on Deming Road either, but believes it is either 30 or 35 mph, he said Friday.
If no speed limit sign is posted, the speed limit on a road is 55 mph, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles defensive driving manual. The manual can be accessed at dmv.ny.gov.
Board members expressed concerns the parking lot would cause traffic to back up and could become a hot spot for accidents due to the heavier traffic.
“At peak hours, this road is exceedingly dangerous,” Deputy Supervisor Michael McCrary said, adding the bridge on Deming Road is two lanes, where the trail access would be.
Jewett is planning to do work on Deming Road to compensate for the anticipated additional traffic, Killourhy said.
The ski resort hopes to have Hunter North completed by the 2018-2019 ski season.
To reach reporter Kaitlin Lembo, call 518-828-1616 ext. 2513, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter @kaitlinlembo.