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Ancram Planning Board: Roundtable discussion focuses on Iron Star project

ANCRAM — After hearing their consultants’ thoughts on the site plan, members of the Ancram Planning Board had a comprehensive discussion on how they plan to move forward with the proposed Iron Star Retreat Center project.

The Iron Star Retreat Center project was first brought to the Planning Board early last year for a retreat center in Ancram with glamping facilities. The project originally proposed a project on 146.75 acres divided into four lots. After taking the Ancram community’s concerns about the project’s size and scale into consideration, the applicant submitted a new, scaled-back application contained to 36 acres of land.

Stacey Shurgin is the applicant of record and owner of Iron Star Retreat Center. She presented the reduced development proposal to the Planning Board on March 3.

The Planning Board met on Thursday, March 31, at Ancram Town Hall at 7 p.m.; a video of that meeting can now be watched on the “Town of Ancram NY” YouTube channel.

Planning Board Chair John Ingram explained the purpose was so the board could workshop and gather information from its consultants.

After doing so, he said board members would have a discussion among themselves on what to do next.

According to planning consultant Nan Stolzenburg, of Community Planning & Environmental Associates, in comparison to what Ancram’s zoning law requires for a site plan there were some minor deficiencies and other items that need to be included on the updated application.

Stolzenburg said that includes the names and identifications of homeowners across Route 82 who are adjacent to the proposed project site; the size of the proposed structures; a lighting plan; and an agricultural data statement.

Not only are these items required by Ancram’s zoning law, but Stolzenburg said they add a lot of information that the Planning Board will need as it moves forward.

She also noted the project’s existing conditions map could be improved for the Planning Board to better understand what’s on the current site.

Stolzenburg also raised a few concerns the board should consider. Among them are a proposed 22-car lot for the center’s inn and restaurant; infrastructure features (such as the stormwater basin) that don’t seem to meet the proper setback from the property line; the water and septic hookup; and whether the project sufficiently meets the definition of a retreat center.

Consultant George Schmitt from the New York State Erosion and Sediment Control Certificate Program shared his concerns about the project’s proposed uses as well as comments on its stormwater handling. He also spoke about the need to identify any potential significant adverse environmental impacts, done through the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) process.

As the Planning Board dove into a roundtable discussion at its March meeting, members were reminded its alternative purpose was to prepare for the next step in SEQRA.

As lead agency for the project, the board’s first significant decision is to make a determination of significance and issue either a positive or negative declaration in terms of Iron Star’s environmental impact.

The board went through Part I of the Environmental Assessment Form (EAF); it must also assess the potential environmental impacts and their magnitude.

Consultants suggested board members take Part II of the EAF home with them to review Part II in preparation for their 7 p.m. meeting on Wednesday, April 20.

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