Comments for Silo Ridge continue at public hearing
AMENIA — The Planning Board held its second consecutive public hearing for applications being sought related to the development at Silo Ridge, Thursday, Sept. 18.More than 45 members of the public from Amenia and elsewhere offered comments to the board.Planning Board Chair Joseph Fontaine announced that the hearing would remain open and a third session will be held at a date to be determined. More support for the project was heard compared to the last hearing, Thursday Sept. 4, though concerns were voiced regarding waivers that may veer too far from the town code and expose Amenia to litigation if granted.“I have deep concerns about the Silo Ridge resort community project and the way it has been fast-tracked by the Planning Board,” said resident Janet Reagon, the first to speak at the hearing. “Already, major alternations to the topography of DeLavergne Hill have been made, precursors to the fundamental changes the project will cause to the town of Amenia.”Reagon also questioned whether the applicant’s plans complied with the town’s rural development overlay requirements.Joanne Scasso from Millerton followed.“When Silo Ridge was a business in Amenia before, I had a business in Amenia. So I’m also one of those people that would consider coming back to Amenia were there more revenue and something to bring me back,” she said.Resident Wayne Euvrard spoke about the job creation and tax base potential of the completed project.“We need jobs and the added town, county and school taxes and also the taxes for the fire company to help our wonderful community move forward,” he said.Euvrard added that the developers have demonstrated commitment to the town by way of donations — the “Welcome to Amenia” Lions Club banners, for example — and Town Hall construction assistance. “So please folks, let’s move forward with Silo Ridge,” he said.Linda Kinney from Sharon, Conn., said that “it’s hard to believe that Amenia’s Planning Board would allow the destruction of one of the most beautiful scenic parts of Dutchess County.”“Tears come to my eyes when I drive up DeLavergne Hill and find that I can no longer enjoy the iconic view,” she added. “It’s heartbreaking, I think, that future generations will not be able to see it too.”Kinney asked whether the larger tax base would be worth losing the rural character of the town.Robert Rinaldi, a 2014 Webutuck High School graduate, followed.Rinaldi expressed that he did not understand the scenic argument logic.“It’s a wonderful view, it’s amazing. But you really can only see it for about what — four or five seconds if you’re not focused on driving on that road?” he asked.The Millerton resident said he recently visited the project site and was told of the developer’s plans to construct a new overlook from the hill with a parking area and public restaurant.Rinaldi continued that his experience at Webutuck was limited compared to what other Dutchess County students are provided with based on greater tax revenues.“I feel limited myself and that right now we are overlooking the younger generation and their opinion and how they will benefit from this,” he said. “It’s not fair to dwell over a scenic view when honestly we have to think about the future of everyone else.”Jillian Doran, another 2014 Webutuck graduate and current administration assistant at Silo Ridge, added that the development’s projected 125 full-time jobs — double the amount of graduating students in the upcoming class of 2015.Doran suggested this factor would give local youth a reason to stay in Amenia.Town Councilman and DeLango Automotive owner Mike DeLango emphasized the project’s potential impact on town business.“Yes it’s a gated community and yes they’re private homes,” he said. “Will I ever be able to afford a home there? No, I won’t. But my business is going to thrive. Other businesses are going to thrive. And when you have a thriving community, more businesses come.”Elyse Harney spoke about her family’s history in the area, starting out at The White Hart inn in Salisbury, Conn., and then moving to Millerton with Harney & Sons Fine Teas.“[We] were a little apprehensive about coming across the border, but it has been a wonderful move for the tea company, we employ 125 people now at Harney & Sons Tea,” she said.Harney stated that like the tea company, Silo Ridge intends to support local organizations through charitable efforts.“This could be a dream come true for the town,” she said.Resident Steve Benardete asserted that while he neither supports nor opposes the project, he does feel strongly about complying with Amenia’s zoning code.“There are countless SEQRA [State Environmental Quality Review Act] and town code procedural anomalies and violations at the scenic protection overlay district and the rural development overlay district divisions of the town of Amenia zoning code.“If the Planning Board ignores proper procedure and accommodates the applicants’ many requests for waivers and special permits, you will be inviting an Article 78 challenge,” he said.Rich Rennia, the principal engineer with Rennia Engineering, spoke about stormwater compliance on the project site.“We are out there twice a week, we are the stormwater inspectors. They’re fully in compliance,” he said.Rennia said that his company had conducted 85 stormwater inspections on site to date.“I think [Silo Ridge] has the potential to be an absolute diamond for Amenia,” said resident Andy Durbridge, “but as many people have said and has been repeated already, it needs to be done right.”Durbridge advised the board to consider the waivers at hand.“When those waivers affect something we call the greenbelt, the intention was to keep it green,” he said. “And if that’s in the zoning, we need to think very carefully about waiving anybody’s rights to change those things.”The Planning Board is still accepting written comments until the next public session.