DURHAM — The Durham Town Board on Tuesday declined a request from the developer’s engineer for a public hearing on the proposed Bosque Development project.
The housing project, if approved, would build 13 homes and one farm lot with a barn on 95 acres in the vicinity of Cornwallville and Strong roads in the historic hamlet.
The project has drawn substantial opposition from some in the community.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, Scott Ouimet from the engineering firm Kaaterskill Associates requested a public hearing for the project.
“The goal tonight is to present to the board some of the changes we have made and the ultimate hope is that we can set up a public hearing because we know there are a lot of people in the community that are eager to comment on the subdivision,” Ouimet said. “At that public hearing, we will have all of the consultants present to provide comments on all the various aspects of the project as it was submitted.”
The town board declined Ouimet’s request to schedule a public hearing.
“Definitely four days is not enough time to go over this, so we do need time,” Town Supervisor Shawn Marriott said Tuesday. “We rely heavily on Lamont [Engineers] to go over everything and talk to us. Until they say we are good, or we are set to go forward with a public hearing, I think I speak for the board when I say we are not having a public hearing until we get to that point.”
Local resident Dan Clifton, who opposes the project, agreed Wednesday it is too early for a public hearing.
“There was nobody, including the town board members, who spoke in favor of having a public hearing at this point, other than the developers,” Clifton said. “Everyone agreed it’s too premature.”
There are a number of reasons it’s too early in the process for a public hearing, Clifton said.
“They just submitted almost 1,000 pages of documents last Thursday,” Clifton said. “No one — the town board or anyone else — has had a chance to review them and respond to them, as we intend to do.”
Area residents have attended meetings for several months to voice their opposition to the housing development.
“The Cornwallville community is united in opposition to this project,” Clifton said. “It’s not unanimous — I’m sure there are some who support it, but the vast majority of people in Cornwallville are against it.”
Among the concerns voiced by local residents are the impact of the project on the community, Clifton said.
“Probably the biggest concern among the residents — not the only one, but the biggest concern — is the effect of a housing development of 13 units in the middle of the Cornwallville Historic District,” Clifton said. “We do believe it would alter the community’s character for the worse.”
Technical concerns expressed since the beginning of the process have included issues related to traffic, stormwater runoff and impacts on well water, among others.
Marriott said a public hearing would not be scheduled until the town and Lamont Engineers have had the opportunity to thoroughly review all the reports and updates.
“There is nothing that we are trying to hide or push anything forward,” Marriott said. ”I would not push a public hearing forward until we have the information we need so whatever decision we make, we can stand behind it, we reviewed everything and gave everybody else a chance to talk it over as well.”
Kaaterskill Associates on Thursday submitted updates to the board incorporating some of the comments that have come in from both the community and Lamont Engineers, the firm hired by the town to review the project.
“The design team has done a lot of work updating the plans since the last time we were before the board March 16,” Ouimet said.
Among the new submissions to the board last week are an updated report on potential impacts of the housing project on the hamlet’s historic district, a completed phase 1B archaeological report, a revised architectural plan and a preliminary subdivision plat showing how the land will be divided. A traffic report and the addition of a dry hydrant in response to comments from the fire department were also among the changes submitted to the board, Ouimet said.
“The subdivision plans have been revised to incorporate a lot of the comments we have heard to date from residents in the community,” Ouimet said.
The minimum lot size has also been increased to 4 acres, he added.