Wednesday, October 24, 2018

News from the Greenport Planning Board

For those advocating for the preservation of the Gothic Revival house on Fairview Avenue, the news from the Greenport Planning Board meeting is not good.

Greenport Land Partners, a.k.a. TRG (Trinity Realty Group), the developers of the new retail center on the site of the current McDonald's, have not appeared before the Planning Board for several months. In July, Planning Board chair Ed Stiffler told the board that SHPO (State Historic Preservation Office) had determined the house, once known as "The Pines," was eligible for listing in the State and National Registers of Historic Places, and SHPO was asking that the house be incorporated into the design for the retail development, or the applicant needed "to build a very strong case for demolishing it."

Last night, Greenport Land Partners was back with what were purported to be new plans for the project. What was new about the plans seemed limited to turning lanes, a "slip lane" to access McDonald's, and drainage. There was no mention of SHPO's request until Stiffler asked about it. The representative of Greenport Land Partners told the board they had hired a historic consultant. He then said there were "two schools of thought" about the house and its importance. The house was the home of Joseph Farrand and later of his youngest son, Arthur, who played a major role in the development of the part of Hudson known as "the Boulevards" and the spring-fed Oakdale Lake. He asserted that the applicant, whom he represented, still wanted to demolish the house, and they were trying to learn "SHPO's conditions for allowing them to do it." 

SHPO also had a role in the other project before the Greenport Planning Board that Gossips has been following: the proposal by East Light Partners to build a solar array on land just south of the grounds of the Dr. Oliver Bronson House. 

In August, Stiffler requested letters from Olana and Historic Hudson "saying they have no concerns [about the project], or, if they do, what concerns they are." The letter from Historic Hudson, submitted to the Greenport Planning Board in September, asked that a comprehensive evaluation of the site by SHPO be requested. This was done, and at last night's meeting, a letter, addressed to Jamie Fordyce of East Light Partners, from John A. Bonafide, director of the Technical Preservation Services Bureau at SHPO, was submitted. The letter read in part:
As you are aware, your project is adjacent to the National Historic Landmark Dr. Oliver Bronson House and Estate property (NHL Designated 2003). Landmark designation is the highest honor that the National Park Service can bestow upon a property in this county. The Bronson estate is one of less than 300 so designated properties in New York.
Based upon our review of this undertaking, the New York SHPO has found that the project will have No Adverse Effect on the National Historic Landmark or archaeological resources. Our determination is based on a condition that project fencing be dark or non-reflective in color to minimize visual impacts. We also recommend that a mixed vegetative buffer be established along the Route 9 and the Bronson property lines. The composition of this buffer should be established in consultation with local interested parties. 
On the topic of the vegetative buffer, Ray Jurkowski, engineer consultant to the Planning Boards, told the applicants that Norway spruce, which was being proposed for the buffer, was considered an invasive species and suggested other varieties of spruce that might be used. He requested that taller specimens than the ones proposed be used: 10 feet at initial planting instead of the 6-foot trees proposed. He also suggested that some lower covering be planted an additional to the trees.

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