Silo Ridge seeks final approval
AMENIA — Silo Ridge Ventures announced Friday, Feb. 20, that it had submitted its final revised site plan, amended master development plan and preliminary subdivision plat to the Amenia Planning Board.
The applicants now await approval from the board, and from other agencies such as the departments of environmental conservation, transportation and health, to move forward with construction.
If the Planning Board deems the phase one application complete, there will be one more public hearing followed by a finding statement and issuance of a special use permit.
The owners hope they’ll be able to start construction by this spring or summer.
Silo Ridge Field Club was purchased by Silo Ridge Ventures from Higher Ground Farms in 2013.
Consistent in the ownership is Pedro Torres, who has been involved with the project since Higher Ground Farms purchased Silo Ridge Field Club in a foreclosure sale in 1999.
Torres is CEO of Stoneleaf Partners, LLC., the builders that make up one half of Silo Ridge Ventures.
The other half is Discovery Land Company, an Arizona-based developer with 16 resort communities. Before Stoneleaf and Discovery formalized their relationship in 2013, a much larger project was approved in 2009, when Higher Ground Farms owned the property.
That project was first proposed in 2003, and by its approval six years later, involved construction of 338 residential units and a 300-room hotel.
That project did not come to fruition, and the present-day submission is considerably smaller. Now, a total of 245 residential units and a 21-room lodge are up for approval in last week’s submission.
Torres said the 2009 plan “wasn’t financially feasible.”
“The difference is Discovery’s a partner,” added Stoneleaf’s Vice President of Construction Mike Dignacco. “They have a great niche market, they’re great at programming, they’ve got a great vision for the property, they’ve already got a great response.”
“We’re committed to building the amenities, and we’ll start from there,” Dignacco said.
Torres said Discovery came to Silo Ridge in 2012 as they were “looking to expand their portfolio to New York.”
“They fell in love with the property,” Torres said.
The application proposes 245 units and several facilities on 670 acres of land at 4651 Route 22.
The project would be phased as unit sales are made, Torres said. He estimates that 30 units will be sold a year and that construction will be finished in seven to eight years.
“I think we can sell out a lot faster than that,” the CEO said, “because we have a lot of interest already. It’s just a matter of approval.”
Units would range from $1 million to $6 million and be purchased with membership to the club. The club and its amenities, including the golf course, could be open only to homeowners in the resort.
“In order for [Discovery] to sell real estate, they have to keep the club private,” Torres said. “Otherwise how do you justify selling the units for what we’re selling them for when you can buy something outside?”
The project outlines about 160 single-family homes sized between 3,000 and 4,500 square feet; 13 town houses between 3,200 and 3,500 hundred square feet; and about 60 condominiums between 1,000 and 4,400 square feet.
There are also 56 lots designated for custom built estate homes. Lots range from three quarters of an acre to more than 2 acres.
Other facilities planned on site include a clubhouse (with a spa, locker rooms, fitness space, dining area and a pool), a family barn (with a bowling alley, theater room, lake pavilion and dining area), a golf academy, sales center and general store.
The architects would be Hart Howerton, a firm used by Discovery on other company resorts.
The plans also include a winery and restaurant that would be open to the public. That has not been designed yet and will be in phase two, Torres said, along with vineyard cottages north of Route 44.
Phase two will require another series of applications.
Silo Ridge would feature an 18-hole golf course and driving range.
Construction for five holes was approved in 2013, followed by the rest last year.
The course is already in progress, and the applicants predict it will be done in 2016.
The course was designed by Tom Fazio, who designs Discovery’s courses.
According to Torres, first and foremost in construction plans is a public overlook that will be owned and operated by Silo Ridge.
The park would offer a view from DeLavergne Hill with a path, grass and stone benches, Dignacco said.
There would be parking for the overlook so that visitors do not have to park on the inside of the hairpin curve to enjoy the view.
The park would be open through daylight hours in spring, summer and autumn.
When the winery/restaurant opened, the park would be open during restaurant hours, including winter.
The applicants also plan to clear tree growth “that was blocking the view,” Torres said.
Webutuck and community engagement
Torres said the site will host the Webutuck school system’s golf program and offer training from professional staff.
The CEO added that Stoneleaf hopes to create something to assist the school district long term.
“We are trying to put a program together to help the school with financial needs,” he said.
There are also plans to host events for the fire departments, sheriff’s office and charity organizations.
The applicants are adhering to East of Hudson Watershed Standards in their Stormwater Polution Prevention Plan (SWPPP). These standards far exceed what is required by the Department of Environmental Conservation — the agency that governs the SWPPP application — Torres said.
The East of Hudson Watershed Standards require four times as many treatment basins before water leaves the site, the CEO added.
The 2009 project committed to these standards and, despite the major downsizing, that remains intact.
“These over-the-top standards were for a much bigger project,” Dignacco said. “Now the project is significantly reduced, [but] we still have over-the-top standards, which just makes it that much better than it was.”
Fitting into the landscape
“We increased a lot of our environmental commitments from the past,” Torres said. “We increased buffers and decreased disturbances to steep slopes.”
The 2009 plan disturbed more than 35 acres of steep slopes; the new plan brings that number to 20 acres by designating flat areas on slopes for the estate homes.
Estate home owners will also be required to implement green infrastructure practices.
According to the applicants, 80 percent of the site acreage will be preserved as permanent open space by conservation easement.
The applicants prepared a full environmental assessment form under the State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA).
“What the town’s asked us to do is compare all of the impacts associated with this job, compared to the SEQRA documents for the approved  project,” Torres said.
He said a total of 50 units would be visible from the views, but noted that natural building materials will help them blend with the environment.
The applicants were required to place a reclamation bond of $80,000 in an escrow account with the town for golf course construction.
“The idea behind that is, if we were to walk away from the job, that the town could come in and get everything [restored,]” Torres said.
Silo Ridge Ventures will have to post a similar bond for infrastructure construction, as well as a completion bond for certain infrastructures, such as the site’s waste water treatment plant. That bond will allow the town to complete said infrastructure if the project is abandoned.
Last August, the Town Board established a fee of $536,000 for Silo Ridge to pay in lieu of building the workforce housing construction that is required from large projects.
The applicants predict their project will generate a total of $65 million in tax revenue over the next 10 years, including $20 million in property tax revenue in Amenia and Dutchess County, $42 million in tax revenue for Webutuck and $1.7 million for the Amenia and Wassaic fire districts.
Also projected are 3,000 construction jobs, as well as 125 full-time and 75 part-time jobs once the project is completed.
A boost for Amenia
Torres said the completed Silo Ridge Field Club “will be a major change to Amenia and the eastern side of Dutchess County. It’ll boost Amenia drastically forward.”
“A lot of the concerns people have, we’ve addressed them,” he added. “Not only have we addressed them, but we’ve actually made them better from the approved project. Whether it’s steep slopes, or it’s the SWPPP, or it’s the visual analysis, all those things we’ve made better, and drastically better in a lot of ways.”
Dignacco added that the club “is going to be a great asset for the region.”
“It’s going to be a beautiful addition to the area,” he added. “It’s a legacy kind of property.”
The Silo Ridge site plan can be accessed from www.siloridge.com.