By Melanie Lekocevic
Capital Region Independent Media
DURHAM — The town granted preliminary approval to a controversial subdivision that has been under review for more than a year.
The preliminary plat for the controversial Bosque subdivision was approved at the town board’s April 5 meeting. If granted final approval, the project would bring 12 high-end homes and a community barn to the area of Strong and Cornwallville roads.
The project has generated a great deal of opposition in the community, with residents voicing concerns about the character of the historic district where the subdivision would be located, traffic, lighting, water supply and other concerns.
Under the preliminary approval, the development’s common-use barn will be permitted to host up to 100 people for outdoor events.
The news came as a surprise to some in the audience at the board’s April 5 meeting who said they were under the impression the community barn could only have 25 individuals on site at a time and have questioned the occupancy limits throughout the review process.
“Is it up to a maximum of a hundred people for an event? I know there are 12 families there and who knows how many events,” resident Dan Clifton asked the board. “Does that mean that on any given day, they can have up to a hundred people?”
Marriott clarified that the 25-person occupancy that had been discussed in the past applies to indoor events at the barn.
“Twenty-five was the restriction for inside the building itself,” Marriott said. “This is talking about if there is events there and people are outside, that the max is going to be a hundred.”
The restriction is more limiting than would apply to private homeowners in Durham, Marriott said.
The board unanimously voted on a 31-page resolution granting the subdivision preliminary approval.
“Since we held a public hearing a couple of months ago, we have been discussing the process and how to get to this next step and this next step is either approval or disapproval of the preliminary plat that has been filed,” town attorney Tal Rappleyea said prior to the vote. “We did receive a letter from the town engineer letting us know that in his opinion, the applicant has filed everything and complied with everything that is needed in order to at least get to this vote.”
The lengthy resolution includes documents from the applicant and their engineer, along with comments from the public.
“There are 54 documents received from the applicant and/or engineer, and 151 comments, letters and emails from the public,” Rappleyea said.
The review process included two public hearing sessions that remained open and accepting public comments for a couple of weeks.
The preliminary approval is not the end of the process, Rappleyea said.
“The preliminary approval is just that — preliminary,” the town attorney said. “There are other things that need to be done.”
Marriott said additional public hearings will be held before the project is considered for final approval.
Included in the resolution are dozens of conditions the developer must comply with.
“There are 50 conditions of approval and those conditions would have to be met — a lot of them before we get to the final approval — if we do grant approval. We don’t know that yet,” Rappleyea said.
Among the conditions is the requirement that the developer conduct another well water pump test for the western portion of the proposed subdivision. Previous water tests were limited to home sites on the east side of the project, according to the resolution.
The project’s impact on wells and the water supply of nearby homes was another sticking point for some critics of the project.