28-lot subdivision eyed for Black Meadow Road

Chester. The original application dates back to 2014.

| 09 Oct 2023 | 04:07

At the town of Chester Planning Board meeting on October 4, an application for a 28-lot subdivision returned to the board. A version of this plan had first come to the board in 2014. The proposed location is a roughly 168-acre lot off Black Meadow Road near Bairds Crossing Road. However, the applicant noted that about 124 acres would be preserved.

Right away board members noted that much of the work that the applicant had done several years ago would need to be refiled, as both the area, and the town, had changed since then, making much of the previous work moot. New studies, for example, would have to be performed on the soil percolation rate and nearby endangered species.

An applicant representative noted that a new endangered species report was in the process of being sent to the board, and that no endangered species had been found.

But questions regarding drainage, grading, water use, road setbacks, landscaping, agricultural easements, and more arose.

Planning board member Larry Dysinger also raised concerns about whether the cluster housing subdivision went against the town’s comprehensive plan, which is currently being reviewed.

“The last time you were here in March, the only thing that I see changed is you eliminated one lot. And we identified a litany of concerns and issues that needed to be addressed,” said Dysinger, “and so far, as far as I know, you haven’t addressed those. Our bible is the Chester Comprehensive Plan; that’s what we use as a guide to making decisions about requests like this. To me, cluster subdivisions...should be preserving farmland. And these lots are taking away farmland. I know it hasn’t been farmed in a few years... but it is farmland. And you chose not to do it and now you’re putting all the homes on farmland. That’s against our comprehensive plan.”

He also questioned the number of lots listed in the plan. “When coming up with a yield plan, you should be subtracting out all unusable land. That’s all the wetlands, lands steeper than 16%, and lands that don’t perc. If you did that, you’re not going to come up with 28 lots. But you didn’t do that. You didn’t subtract out steep lots and the lots that don’t perc...”

He went on to note that several of the proposed lots did not have adequate soil percolation rates, which refers to the soil’s absorption rate, and suggested that certain lots downslope of others could feel the brunt of improper drainage.

The board also raised concerns about the potential effects such a subdivision could have on the water levels of nearby wells, noting that the area has several other subdivisions currently tapping into that source.

At the end, the applicant’s representatives were given a long list of items that they needed to retest, review, and report on before the board could hold another public hearing on the project.

Other Business

An application by Bell Station Corp also returned to the board regarding the proposed construction of warehouse/office space at Kings Highway/Laroe Road.

Planning board engineer Al Fusco asked the applicant for additional information regarding drainage, retaining wall details, entrance markers, as well as lighting and landscaping requirements. The applicant’s spokesperson requested scheduling a public hearing to get the public’s perspective on the project, but board members agreed that it was too soon, and there were too many questions left unanswered at this time.

The subdivision project on Ridge Road, submitted by Ridge Road Equities, filed for a 90-day extension. In a letter to the board, the applicant said the project surveyor had been unable to sign the final subdivision plat “due to personal reasons,” adding, “We now have the maps signed and expect to be submitting them to the planning board for signature in the coming week or two.”

The planning board approved the extension.

Brian Schulzer, the owner of Neat Stuff Collectibles & Sparkle City Comics, came to the board looking to see if a lot he was eyeing could be used for his business. He explained that he sells comic books, toys, and other collectibles primarily on eBay. So his proposal was more about creating warehouse space for a mail order-type business, not a retail location.

The location he had in mind was off Kings Highway near the library. While he wanted to see whether the board could tell him if his vision was feasible, they explained that that was not what a planning board does. They noted that just about anything could be built on the lot with enough time and money. All they could tell him was that the lot he had in mind was zoned for commercial use.

He was told to come back with a site plan for review.

The next town of Chester Planning Board meeting is slated to take place November 1.