Grafton Planning Board Meeting – Quorum Call
by Kieron Kramer
The Grafton Planning Board meeting on Monday, May 21, began 14 minutes late while Planning Board Chairman Tom Withcuskey rounded up a quorum. Luckily, there were no public hearings and no new business on the agenda. During the meeting, two items of old business were voted on and approved. One was the Boyce subdivision on South Long Pond Road and the other was the Halloran-Andriano subdivision on Clickner Road. The approval of Richard Lundy’s riding stable on Kautz Hollow Road was postponed for a month.
At the February 27 public hearing on the Halloran-Andriano subdivision on Clickner Road the two main issues were the number of lots that might result in the future from the Halloran subdivision and the clarification of Halloran’s responsibility for the upgrading and maintenance of Clickner Road. Halloran will be keeping a 25.81 acre parcel to sell and conveying a 5.2 acre parcel to his daughter.
In the meantime these two issues have been resolved to everyone’s satisfaction. Surveyor Rod Michaels, who has been representing Halloran during the subdivision process, announced at this meeting that Halloran had agreed not to subdivide the large parcel. Michaels said that Halloran had a purchaser “lined up” for this lot, and obviously it will be conveyed with a covenant on the deed against any further subdivisions. So, what was once four parcels before Halloran united and then subdivided them will end up as two parcels.
Michaels also said that Halloran, with input from Town Attorney Sal Ferlazzo and Highway Superintendent Herb Hasbrouck, agreed to put $1,500 into an escrow account to purchase gravel to upgrade 1,000 feet of Clickner Road – the frontage of both parcels. He has also given an easement, running 25 feet from the center line of the road, to the Town so that the Grafton Highway Department can put down the gravel and also do any future repairs on the road. Michaels added that there are some trees that will have to be removed to allow for a proper line of sight on the road.
After Michaels’ presentation the Planning Board voted 3-0 to approve the subdivision. Board Member Arthur Surprise arrived shortly after the vote; Board Member Scott Newell was absent. The subdivision and its terms benefit everyone. The resultant two parcels rather than a possible four means that there will be less traffic on the road. The easement and the payment by Halloran and the machinery and labor of the Highway Department will improve a Town road, and the road improvement will raise the value for the owners, not to mention their access, of the two parcels that will be formed.
Boyce Subdivision At Cranberry Pond
Last November Rod Michaels represented Bill and Elsa Boyce in their two lot subdivision application on Benker School Way. The original plan was that the Boyces would keep a lot of 9.2 acres, on which their dwelling is located, and convey the second lot of 62.9 acres to the Rensselaer Land Trust to be held as a forever wild area. There was to be a right of way along the edge of the Boyces’ 9.2 acre lot for access to the forever wild area.
At the public hearing on the Boyce subdivision, which was held in December, the owners of the abutting property, Craig Alexander and his wife Betsy Colvin, raised two major issues. Their first point was that they share the boundary line, about 2/3rds of a mile long, from the Cranberry Pond dam to the lot that the Boyces are keeping with their house on it. There is some dispute as to where the property line is since it appears in two different places in two different surveys. Surveyor Michaels had included the very long, thin, disputed piece as a shaded area on the map labeled “area of confusion.” Alexander/Colvin’s point was that this “area of confusion” is about 3.7 acres, not an insubstantial acreage, and they wanted the boundary line resolved before the forever wild area is transferred to the Rensselaer Land Trust.
Alexander/Colvin’s second concern was that people following the hiking trails in the forever wild area, which they said are used in the summer sometimes by people on ATVs and motorcycles, would cross over onto their property. They wanted some assurance that signage would be put up on the trails indicating where the public access ends.
In January’s meeting the Planning Board determined that Alexander/Colvin’s concerns had been addressed, and they voted 5-0 to approve the subdivision.
Take Back That Lot
Now, in May, in turns out that the 62.9 acre lot will not be conveyed to the Rensselaer Land Trust to be held forever wild but will instead be sold to Alexander/Colvin. No reason was given for this change of plan. However, the sale of the lot to the Boyces’ abutters solves a multitude of problems. First, and thorniest, the “area of confusion,” the boundary line dispute, no longer exists. Second, no signage will be required because the public will no longer have access to the lot since Alexander/Colvin will have control over the large lot and almost all of Cranberry Pond. They have no intention of developing or subdividing the lot in the future so it will remain, but maybe not forever, as a de facto wild area. And last, but not least, the property will remain on the tax roll.
The Planning Board voted 4-0 to approve the Boyce subdivision in its new configuration which also includes the removal of the 30 foot right of way along the edge of the 9.2 acre lot the Boyces are keeping, since access to the large parcel is no longer needed.
The Boyces will also give the Town an easement across the corner of their lot so that the turn from South Long Pond Road onto Benker School Way will no longer be practically a right angle. Highway Superintendent Herb Hasbrouck has been worried about the dangerous turn there for a while. Now the Town can adjust and maintain the road as it sees fit.
Horseback Riding Postponed
In the March Grafton Planning Board meeting a site plan was filed by Richard Lundy for a horseback riding business on Kautz Hollow Road with a one mile riding trail loop over 135 acres.
In the public hearing in April on the Lundy site plan an abutter, Doug Pratt, had serious concerns that he wanted addressed before the site plan was approved. In response to Pratt’s concerns the Board voted to approve the site plan if the following contingencies were met by the May meeting:
• the manure pile will have to be removed, but because Grafton has a right to farm law, the pigs and other animals can stay;
• the illegal burning of furniture must stop;
• a parking area will be designed and graveled so that visitors will not have to park on the narrow road;
• the dogs that roam the property, which seemed well behaved to Withcuskey, will have to be licensed;
• if food is sold a license from the County will have to be obtained;
• Port-a-Potties® will have to be rented for the riding season;
• a sign will have to be approved;
• liability insurance must be acquired, and
• Lundy will have to be responsible for the care of the horses.
In April Withcuskey had hoped to move the process along so that the riding could begin on the holiday weekend (Memorial Day). Unfortunately, at this meeting the final approval was delayed until June because, Withcuskey thinks, Lundy still has some issues with the County Health Department regarding the Port-a-Pottie® among some other details. Withcuskey assured everyone that the project is moving forward.[/private]