An email arrived this morning:
[snip]Will an updated traffic study be performed by any of the government agencies on the proposed Terramor project?
Is it advisable for residents [snip] to obtain an updated traffic study, such as the one proposed by [redacted]?
Mark’s response to the above question (lightly edited for context):
Here is a question I posed to the Town planning consultant who was with us on Tuesday (I also asked the same question of the Planning Board Secretary) :
When a new large development (in this case Terramor) has its first appearance in front of the Planning Board, does any other entity have the opportunity to address the Board at that first formal meeting? Not individual members of the public, but, say, an interested expert addressing particular parts of the formal technical submissions made to the Board
The consultant’s response to Mark’s question:
Experts are directly hired by the Planning Board to review a project if the Board feels it is necessary. For example, the Board will hire its own traffic engineer to review and comment on the applicant’s traffic report and so forth. The Board relies on these hired experts, and comments from involved agencies such as NYS DEC and DOT, to identify glaring issues, permit requirements, or items that would need to be addressed for an approvable project. The Town Code and NYS Environmental Quality Review Act provides a framework for this investigation.
The public can also provide comments from their own expert, and present those comments during public hearings.
Formal meetings are the only time that the Planning Board can discuss the project as a quorum without violating NYS Open Meetings Law, so allowing the technical review to proceed month by month at these meetings is important to the Board’s decision making process.
The Planning Board Secretary’s response to Mark’s question:
The Planning Board’s procedure is to allow anyone to speak from the public with concerns/comments only at the meeting in which a public hearing is open. If the Planning Board has an expert that they have hired for review/advice then they may invite that person/persons to speak at a given meeting. Anyone is welcome to send in a letter addressing their concerns at any time during the process for the Planning Board to review and take into consideration. The first meeting is generally to familiarize the Planning Board with the project and let the Town Planner and Planning Board members address initial concerns or suggestions. A public hearing will only be scheduled when the site plan is complete enough, which is determined by the Planning Board with the Town Planner’s guidance. A public hearing can be kept open, with the Planning Board’s approval, if concerns are raised by the public that need to be addressed with an updated site plan or additional information.
My conclusion, therefore, is that both things can be true. Private consultants *can* be hired, but the Board can also do this.
It is highly likely that if citizens tell the Board, early and often, that traffic is a concern, the Board will add that to the list of issues they want their own consultants to address.
[When it comes to traffic,] I think that there are two areas of concern here. One appears to have taken up more oxygen and the other has already been identified by the Town consultants.
First, the Rt. 212/Glasco intersection: While we all know that the Glasco/212 intersection poses concerns, efforts to take up more time and oxygen with this here are likely wasted. I do not think that we can easily link it directly to the Terramor project. It is simply too far away.
Second: the issue of the speed limit on Rt. 212 outside the proposed project entrance and the sight distances thereof. It is this issue which has already been identified by the Town consultants as an area of concern with the preliminary sketch plan. The distance from their proposed curb cut to the turn on the Woodstock side is **just** to code for a 55 mph speed zone. This will continue to be a concern and mitigation for this will be tricky. The Board will be well aware of this. This is definitely something we can and should link to the project.
It’s important to note, of course, that Rt. 212 is a state road and that the Town (and the Planning Board) has limited authority over the infrastructure and protocols on that road. Indeed, when the drainage improvements were made to Osnas, the Town Highway Dept. and their engineers were at pains to point out that the new point of failure will be the culvert under Rt. 212. There was absolutely no appetite on the part of anyone involved for discussions with the State DOT about them improving their own culvert.
I believe the most we can hope for with regard to the intersection issue is that the Planning Board will communicate our concerns about it to the State and make it part of the litany of complaints and issues contained in any proposal the Town makes to the State about Rt 212.
As to the issue of the sight distance, the Board might make them move their curb cut closer to Saugerties. They could also make the curb cut set back further and drastically cut back the foliage on either side to improve sight lines. The consultants have already suggested the latter. They have also suggested that the Town ask the State to make the speed limit 45 (likely from the Transfer Station all the way to Glasco). Of course, this runs into the issue mentioned above about the appetite for any discussions with the State.
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