Chester considers lower speed limits on Route 94 near Greens of Chester

Neighbor: 'It rips the heart out of this quiet area'

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  • Lisa and John Toth (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

  • Lisa Toth told The Chronicle: “This is the site plan that I have. My understanding is that this is the one the developers are using. You can see how incredibly dense it is. Our property is at the bottom on the right, marked 38, 1.5A.” (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

  • Flow of traffic at driveway’s edge (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

By Frances Ruth Harris

— The Toths say they're not safe when leaving their own driveway.

They roll down their windows and listen for the traffic they can't see. If they hear an engine, they don't pull out.

They'd like to see a 35 mph speed limit on Route 94, past their home near the Greens of Chester, a development of 431 houses that will bring more traffic to an already busy and hazardous road.

It's not just the increasing traffic they object to, but the commotion that comes with a housing development under construction, the shock of new clear-cuts, and ancient agreements dating back to the 1990s that make understanding the project difficult.

"It rips the heart out of this quiet area," they told Chester Town Board members at their Jan. 24 meeting.

Supervisor Alex Jamieson said he added the Greens of Chester to the agenda when Lisa Toth came to see him in his office before the meeting. He suggested looking into a lower speed limit on the ever-busier Route 94, where the Toths live.

Board member Robert Valentine suggested looking at the latest traffic study for the area. Jamieson said he would call NYS Assemblyman James Skoufis to see what the town can do to make the area safer. Everyone in the meeting agreed Route 94 is becoming more and more dangerous, with Coach buses zooming through as well.

John Toth said he's talked to the police and ambulance services, and they all agreed the safety problem should be addressed.

He said there have been many car accidents on Route 94 in front of his home over the last 17 years, including one fatality. Now the traffic is worse and will soon become even more intense.

'Every green tree'They Toths been doing their homework, looking at old newspaper articles and town documents that don't answer their questions about what kinds of buffers will there be around the development? And is there enough water and sewer service for all 431 homes planned? Was any provision ever made for stormwater running off the hill?

And then there's the clear-cutting.

"On Jan. 18, 2018, a John Deere feller buncher showed up behind our yard and cut down every green tree," Lisa Toth told The Chronicle. "We watched the deer run away during the cutting. It was heartbreaking. No one told us about any of this. John didn't sleep during the process.

"It was astounding to watch one man and one machine do the cutting. Now all the trees are lying in piles. No one on the perimeter of this development was notified by the town of the clear-cutting. I was told this was because this is an old project that was appropriated in 1998 — apparently public hearings were held at that time. Now many of the homes surrounding the development are owned by people who bought those properties after 1998, and none of us were here at the time of those public hearings! It astounds John and me that anyone in the late 1990s thought putting such high-density housing in the backyards of all the existing properties was an appropriate idea. To say that this changes the character of this area is an understatement."
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