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Terramor glamping site plan in Saugerties encounters large opposition at hearing - Daily Freeman

By William J. Kemble |

Twenty-one speakers and 183 mostly angry residents in opposition were not enough to convince representatives from Terramor/KOA that a sprawling glamping site was not welcome on state Route 212.

There are no plans to withdraw the application for 75 upscale camping sites that have full-service tents on 77.15 acres along the Woodstock-Saugerties town line, company Director of Real Estate Ahmed Helmi said following a public hearing.

“At this point, we’re not planning to” discontinue seeking approval, he said. Helmi added that he considered the strong opposition to be “quite unique” and was not aware of any other KOA site that had met similar resistance.

“Our position is to listen to the community and respond factually through studies, through science,” he said.

“For the most part, it’s concerns that were raised before,” Helmi said. “It’s wastewater, it’s noise, it’s water (from the) aquifer, community character. So basically it’s us preparing another response to the Planning Board in explaining our position and going further in our studies with our consultants.”

Among the information provided by speakers were comments posted on Trip Advisor about noise complaints at a similar Terramor/KOA glamping site in Bar Harbor, Maine. Speakers said they don’t believe promises by developers that neighboring property owners would not be troubled by activity from the Terramor facility.

Helmi did not dispute the complaints but noted that online comments are never expected to be entirely favorable.

“You never get 100% five-star reviews,” he said. “In any business, there is always someone who’s not satisfied. … I would say we’re very much satisfied with Bar Harbor and hoping to replicate the experience elsewhere.”

Many of the speakers were troubled by the amount of water that would be needed for the site, which plans to minimally handle 17,190 gallons that would be treated by a sewer plant. One neighbor of the site noted their well had run dry last year and another commented that creeks planned for discharging effluent from the plant had stopped flowing.

Woodstock Jewish Congregation spokeswoman Gail Albert noted that the effluent would run directly into a pond the members use for significant ceremonies.

“Both streams go dry in extreme drought, as they did last summer, which means that 100% of the liquid coming into our pond and wetland will be effluent,” she said. Hydrologist Paul Rubin said projections used by developers are not supported by science and information provided with the application contained shortcomings.

“Terramor conducted three 72-hour pumping on three property wells,” he said. “The (information) that they have provided does not include critical water level data needed to properly characterize groundwater availability. … Without any supporting data neither the town nor the Ulster County Department of Health can access what total well yield is available.”

Most of the comments were given with a passionate sense of urgency wrapped around studies and factual information. A few of the speakers discussed other concerns such as Terramor customers that may come onto neighboring properties.

“I’m afraid I’m going to have somebody wander down into my back lot,” resident Douglas Haeberer said. “I’ve got dogs…and I understand if (trespassers) get bit it’s still going to be my fault. … But I don’t want somebody to get hurt and I really don’t want one of my dogs catching anything from somebody he bites.”

Planning board members gave developers until Feb. 21 to respond to the comments, which will determine whether a negative declaration can be issued saying that environmental impacts have been addressed, or a positive declaration is made, requiring that a detailed scoping document be prepared on potential mitigation measures.

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