CATSKILL — Residents concerned mainly with the septic system at Pollace’s Family Vacation Resort attended the town planning board meeting Tuesday.
Pollace’s announced in March that the business began negotiations to sell the business. The proposed new use, a religious camp for special needs children, was presented to the planning board in March by applicant Jacob Bar-Horin.
Residents expressed concerns about an increase in traffic, noise level and an impact on the hotel’s septic system.
Project engineer Darrin Elsom said the new use would not cause problems.
“There will be no substantial increase in traffic because the children and counselors will be bused in,” he said. “There will not be an increase in ambient noise level because the property was operating as a resort. The camp will comply with the town’s noise ordinance.”
In consultation with Code Enforcement Officer Elliot Fishman, Elsom found no history of violations or complaints regarding the property’s septic system.
Resident Nick Corrado did not see how the proposed overnight occupancy of 214 guests would not cause an impact.
“I don’t see where there’s not going to be an impact in traffic and on the septic,” he said.
Correspondence from neighbors dated May 8 also outlined these concerns.
“In speaking with former employees of Pollace’s Resort, the total weekly guests averaged between 80-100 during the eight-ten weeks of the summer season,” according to one letter. “Currently, during the summer months the smell of raw sewage is apparent on many days as you walk or drive past Pollace’s Resort, especially on the south side of the property.”
The neighbors urged the planning board to complete an inspection before taking action on the project.
“The Landon Avenue residents are currently impacted for 10 weeks of the summer with increases in both road traffic, motor and pedestrian, and noise,” according to the letter states. “What will be the impact when the number of guests is doubled and the resort becomes year round?”
Resident Joseph Kozloski echoed similar remarks.
“I already have more traffic because of the school,” Kozloski said. “Parents are taking shortcuts off Broome Street. Pollace’s had 80 to 90 people. Now there’s going to be 200 or more? That’s going to add a lot more. The street is not made to handle a lot of traffic.”
The guests will not be coming and going like hotel guests, but staying for eight weeks during the summer, Elsom said.
“They will not be doing the restaurant or wedding venue, which will represent a decrease,” Elsom said.
Kozloski feels that the extended stay will only make matters worse for the septic system.
“I’m concerned with the extra people,” he said. “With the hotel they would stay for one night. Now we have extra people staying there for months. It needs to be looked at.”
Kozloski suggested a dye test be done to see if the system is leaching.
Resident Richard Schloss felt the noise of the camp would be an issue.
“The noise [at the hotel] was always contained within the building,” Schloss said. “And don’t anybody shake their head and tell me I’m wrong.”
In the proposed use, children would be outside, Schloss said.
“So were my guests,” said Charles Serro, who managed Pollace’s.
Planning Board Chairman Joseph Izzo put a stop to the debate.
“This is not a public hearing,” Izzo said.
The board members continued to review the project with Elsom.
Board member Teresa Golden asked if there was any need to upgrade the septic system.
“We are not increasing the load,” Elsom said.
Board member Thomas Decker asked if there was a way to check on the system.
“You would have to uncover it,” Fishman said. “Historically that has caused more problems than it solved.”
A 2018 state Department of Health inspection did not indicate any problems with the system, Elsom said.
Fishman requested Elsom write a letter stating that there was no aboveground evidence of problems with the septic system.
In terms of noise, Golden asked if the camp would abide by a curfew.
“There will be no late music at all,” Bar-Horin said, adding the children will go to bed at 8 p.m.
Elliot questioned Elsom’s claim that the camp would not be increasing noise levels above ambient sound because Pollace’s operating in the summer and the proposal included other weekends throughout the year.
The board scheduled a public hearing on the plan June 11. In addition to abutters of the property, the village of Catskill will be notified, Izzo said.