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May 29, 2018   It's been a while since there has been any news from Hudson River Valley Resorts and their Williams Lake Project. After approval of a Phase I Site Plan covering the construction of interior roads, water and sewer systems, and other 'infrastructure' back in mid-2016, there has been only minimal and gradual visible change at the site.

In January of this year, HRVR brought to the Rosendale Planning Board a new 'Phase II' Site Plan for approval. It includes a revised plan for roads and, instead of the expected hotel and spa, describes construction of 120 residential units, including three clusters of condominiums (one of which is new) and 33 single-family homes.

The total count of residential units has been reduced slightly, with 16 of the Point Comfort (South side of the lake) multi-family units changed into single-family 'cottages'. Linear roads with cul-de-sacs have replaced loop roads. The water treatment building has been moved adjacent to the sewage treatment plant, away from the lake. The existing brick building planned as part of an interpretive center is to be physically moved to a point nearer the south entrance to the property.

An enclosed Event Barn with restrooms was also part of this submission, but before April was moved to Phase III of the project, where it joined the hotel, spa, and other amenities. (Yet another phase will construct ~25 single-family homes on the west side of Binnewater Road.)

The plan changes were attributed by HRVR to 'market conditions', which were said to change the business model. While the original intent was to first have a high-end spa as the anchor for the hotel with its other resort amenities, followed by housing with a value based partly on its access to those amenities, the new model puts priority on the residential component. The hotel, with spa and wellness center inside, is now deferred to Phase III of the project. HRVR states that hotel design is underway and both hotel and spa operators have signed up. HRVR's current estimate is that hotel construction will start in late 2019, with an opening projected for 2020.

Reversal of the resort and residential components of the project has consequences. HRVR's commitment to eventual fee-based public access was contingent on the resort being 'operational'. With the delay in opening the hotel, that day seems to have moved further into the future. Reduction in the number of residential units, while reducing the impact on the land, also reduces the project revenue. The fiscal analysis done for SEQRA is now 5 years old, so the impact of the project on the Town has become even more uncertain. In a worst-case scenario, despite HRVR's assurances that the hotel is just around the corner, the project could halt with it remaining unbuilt, leaving a large residential development with ongoing maintenance costs not shared with a resort.

In February and April, HRVR returned to the Planning Board, each time asking and responding to additional questions. A public hearing in mid-May drew few comments, mostly from owners of neighboring properties. Their main concerns were the reversal of the resort and residential phases, the absence of a track record for the company, and the state of project financing, which HRVR declined to reveal. The public hearing remains open for written comments until June 1st. Comments should be sent to townofrosendaleplanningzoning@yahoo.com

The next meeting of the Planning Board is on June 14th at 7:00 p.m. At that time they are expected to approve Phase II of the project, possibly with conditions added.


Click to download Save the Lakes and The Sierra Club's full statement on the merits and deficiencies of the zoning change amendment.

IN THE NEWS:   ROSENDALE, N.Y., AUGUST 15, 2013   Many of the speakers who wanted to address environmental issues regarding the proposed William Lake resort and residential development, also known as the Hudson River Valley Resort, were stopped from speaking Wednesday and told their concerns had no place in a public hearing on zoning changes.
Read the article - in The Daily Freeman, by William J. Kemble.


JULY 11, 2013: NY State Department of Conservation issues their last comments on HRVR's Final Environmental Impact Statement, making it official. While improvements have been made along the way, the accepted FEIS remains a seriously flawed document. The Town of Rosendale must now address permit applications and zoning to enable the project to move forward.

JUNE 07, 2013: Save The Lakes, the Sierra Club, other local environmental organizations and experts have presented the Department of Environmental Conservation Region 3 with recommendations that document the serious inadequacies that remain in many areas of Hudson River Valley Resort's Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for its proposed resort and gated residential project at Williams Lake in Rosendale. Most of these recommendations are based on critiques of FEIS deficiencies by professional experts on issues of water and ecology. These shortcomings should cause the current project to be rejected by the DEC on SEQRA grounds.

Click to download Save the Lakes evaluation of Hudson River Valley Resort's Final Environmental Impact Statement.

Click to download The Sierra Club's evaluation, including the full text of the analyses of ecologist Erik Kiviat and engineer John Keith.

A synopsis of some of the unresolved issues in the FEIS follows:

There are serious deficiencies in the analysis of biological resources. These include wetlands, bat hibernacula and rare and endangered species such as timber rattlesnakes, the northern cricket frog and bog turtles, among others, which are likely to suffer adverse impacts from this development. Hudsonia ecologist Erik Kiviat writes, "Without protecting rare species and their habitats, no development can be considered green or sustainable".

On the treated sewage discharge course along Binnewater Road, where the adverse environmental impact is likely to be greatest, HRVR has elected not to conduct important baseline water quality and species assessments. This will make it impossible to accurately assess stream impacts in the future.

The FEIS should at least acknowledge the risk of droughts and significant water declines in Williams Lake during droughts, and comment on the possible resulting ecological impact on life in the Lake and the downstream wetlands and wells in proximity to the development.

The failure of the DEIS/FEIS to acknowledge that there is clearly a direct, well-defined, hydraulic connection between surface water runoff and the underlying limestone karst aquifer may have a large negative impact on future groundwater resources in terms of both quantity and quality in the surrounding area.

The proposed zoning amendment, the BLCPDA, is admittedly a request for spot zoning, of dubious legality.

The FEIS does not account for likely major taxpayer costs - potentially millions of dollars - for Town and County road repairs due to extensive heavy truck traffic caused by the project's construction activity, planned in phases over 10 years.

The FEIS does not present sufficient data to assess alternative plans for the project as required by SEQRA. A thorough analysis of economically feasible alternatives should be done. HRVR's position that the proposed development is the only economically feasible alternative lacks substantiation.

The applicant's Project will not enhance public access to the Williams Lake property. Fair and affordable access for hiking and swimming is not guaranteed in the FEIS.

The project described in the FEIS is not consistent with the Rosendale Comprehensive Plan.

Among the organizations and experts making these critiques are Save the Lakes, the Sierra Club, Shawangunk Ridge Biodiversity Partnership, biologists Erik Kiviat and Spider Barbour from Hudsonia Ltd., hydrologists Paul Rubin and James Gatherer, engineer John Keith and SEQRA expert David Porter.


MAY 15, 2013: Department of Environmental Conservation accepts FEIS

A Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS), consisting of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) by reference and appendix with supplements to the text of the DEIS, has been accepted by the lead agency. The final EIS is available for public review at DEC's Region 3 Headquarters, 21 South Putt Corners Road, New Paltz, NY 12561-1620 during normal business hours between 8:30 am and 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. Contact Brenda Griffin at (845) 256-3052 to schedule times for review. In addition, the FEIS is available for review during normal business hours at Town of Rosendale Town Hall, 424 Main Street, Rosendale NY 12472, (845) 658-3159.

Click to acces a hyperlinked EIS Table of Contents that facilitates review of the document.

The FEIS is also available online at www.WilliamsLakeProject.com/FEIS. The DEIS is now available at www.WilliamsLakeProject.com/DEIS.

Revised zoning

HRVR's proposed project includes land uses and construction practices which exceed what is permitted under current zoning. As of April 4, 2012, they have submitted three versions of an amendment to current zoning law which would designate their property as a special zoning district. Within that district, all of the use and area variances needed by the project would automatically be permitted.

Changes to zoning law must be approved by the Town Board. Although the Town Supervisor has indicated that approval of the zoning amendment cannot take place until the Environmental Quality Review process is complete, the zoning document has been provided to multiple Town Boards and Commissions for review. All have responded with requests for greater clarity in the document, as well as raising concerns specific to their area of expertise.

Click to review the draft permits

Click here for an overview of the approvals process

Click to visit Save The Lakes research pages, which include a wealth of detail and documentation on all aspects of the proposed development, including permits and zoning.

Click to download a PDF file of the DEC's August 11, 2011 DEIS comments.

Click to review all public comments made to the DEC on the DEIS.


THE BACK STORY:

In mid August, 2011, DEC sent to HRVR a report critical of their DEIS findings, and suggested that the project plan be scaled back to the "conservation resort alternative". This version, as mentioned in the DEIS, would include a spa/hotel and facilities but would greatly reduce the number of residential units placed on sensitive terrain. Aside from this suggestion, DEC detailed 55 areas in which HRVR's DEIS was found lacking, from water supply and sewerage treatment to construction impacts.

Hudson River Valley Resorts submitted their draft Final Environmental Impact Statement to the DEC on Wednesday, March 21, 2012. HRVR countered the DEC's request to consider other alternatives by offering a small reduction (4-6%) in the number of residential units, leaving the overall scope and scale of the plan almost unchanged. In our estimation, the submitted FEIS did not adequately address and mitigate numerous points of concern. Consideration of many important details regarding water supply and site development were deferred to the permitting process. On June 1, 2012, the DEC - after careful study of the FEIS - informed HRVR that "revisions and additional information are necessary".

HRVR submitted initial permit applications back on July 25, 2012 and DEC responded a month later, judging the applications to be incomplete and providing guidance on which areas needed improvement.




Special thanks to the Sierra Club
for their continuing support.
SAVE THE LAKES MISSION STATEMENT
To protect the natural resources of all the land included in the Williams Lake property and preserve it in perpetuity for the region. We work to insure that the future of Rosendale is planned in concert with community needs and values. We research information and provide data to the public and to area decision-makers.

Are you concerned about escalating property and school taxes, overdevelopment, rapid environmental degradation, increasing traffic congestion and loss of community character?

We at Save the Lakes are convinced that Hudson River Valley Resort's plan to build a gated resort community on Rosendale's beautiful Williams Lake property would bring about all these impacts.

Save the Lakes is not against development. We view development as a good and necessary thing, when it is appropriate development.

What is inappropriate about HRVR's plan?

Please spend the time to familiarize yourself with the information provided here, and join with us in charting a prosperous future for our region - a future that finds no use for overdevelopment and security gates, and preserves our outdoor treasures as community assets.
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ABOUT THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT   |    THE ISSUES AND IMPACTS    |    SOLUTIONS AND ALTERNATIVES
DOCUMENT DOWNLOADS   |    WHAT YOU CAN DO    |   CONTACT US
Save the Lakes is a member of the Shawangunk Ridge Coalition.