Committee to designate scenic viewsheds in Greenville

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By Melanie Lekocevic

Capital Region Independent Media

The town is seeking members to join a newly formed Scenic Viewshed Committee. File photo

GREENVILLE — The town is establishing a new committee looking at what areas of Greenville should be designated scenic viewsheds worthy of protection from development.

The town board is seeking residents to join a Scenic Viewshed Committee that will define and identify areas and views the community would like to preserve.

The issue came up during the board’s review of recommended changes by the planning board to the existing solar project law.

“In the process of going through one of the solar projects, we definitely encountered that there was some real vagueness and some lack of clerical organization in understanding what in town is seen as a viewshed,” planning board member William Bardel said at Monday’s meeting of the town council. “In the planning board report there is a recommendation that there be a Scenic Viewshed Committee established to do a comprehensive review of scenic destinations in town. It’s not specific to addressing solar — it’s more a matter of there needs to be a review in general, just to see what has been identified as scenic in town.”

Town Supervisor Paul Macko said a defined viewshed — and what would and would not be allowed — would be helpful for many types of projects.

“It can be used to address any project that comes up in that area,” Macko said. “It can be because of historic structures in the area.”

The viewshed has come up in reviewing solar projects, but would also make the issue more clear for all kinds of applicants.

“The reason for doing so is to make the application process more transparent and clear for the applicant upfront and make sure there is less ‘he said, she said’ kind of thing, where they discover it halfway down the road,” Bardel said.

Town Councilman Travis Richards agreed it would be helpful to define and determine what is included in a designated “viewshed.”

“’Scenic viewshed,’ those two words, without more of an in-depth look at what it actually is — that is pretty subjective,” Richards said.

Planning board chairman Don Teator said the board suggests setting up a committee, but that responses will vary greatly.

“The planning board is recommending that the town board set up a committee to designate viewsheds that would be used in any laws that require some looking at the views and how you decide to do that,” Teator said. “The planning board is willing to help out, but I think that if you ask five people in the town of Greenville what the viewsheds are, you are going to get a lot of different answers.”

Town Councilman Joel Rauf agreed area residents should be included in the process.

“We should definitely ask for residents’ opinions,” Rauf said. “I think the unanimous view will be ‘not in my backyard,’ but you’ve got to ask a broad section of the community.”

Town Councilman Richard Bear agreed.

“If anybody stands in their backyard and looks out towards the mountains, they would say, ‘I don’t want it’ (a development project). I don’t want something that is going to block my view,” Bear said.

Macko asked Town Assessor Gordon Bennett what the impact on sale price could be for a property that is within a scenic viewshed.

Views can impact how much a home sells for, Bennett said.

“Two houses, identical in every respect and one of them has an amazing view and one is just a regular rural view, especially in the market that we have now where it’s primarily people not from Greenville buying houses — that’s what they are looking for,” Bennett said. “Those stellar views that we have in Greenville and in Greene County mean money at the end of the day.”

Two areas in Greenville were designated by the state years ago as protected viewsheds, Macko said.

“One of them is up off Plattekill Road, that area on top of the hill, and East Red Mill Road off Route 32,” the town supervisor said. “Those are the two areas that we know about right now and they were designated by New York state.”

There was a similar committee established by the town in the late 1960s and early 1970s that looked at scenic viewsheds, Macko added.

Anyone interested in serving on the Scenic Viewshed Committee should call the town offices at 518-966-5055. 

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