HENDERSON — A 4-1 vote of the town board approved lifting the moratorium on development in the Island District on March 2 has cleared the way for a potential $50 million project on Hovey’s Island by Sun Communities, which owns and operates campgrounds on nearby Association Island.
The moratorium was enacted so the town could establish a special committee to review the district’s zoning laws after some residents expressed concerns over potential development on Hovey’s Island by Sun Communities.
The lone vote to extend the moratorium was board member Matt Owen.
He said that the town “should strive to have a clear and predictable process for the citizens.”
“Six months ago, they asked for this,” he said. “We had a committee of very hardworking people dedicate a lot of time to the process, and I think the town board should’ve had a more meaningful conversation about their proposals.”
Town Supervisor Edwin D. Glaser said the moratorium allowed for some good ideas, even though there were some that members of the board did not agree with.
“(The special committee) gave us a lot of good in-depth detail to where the town should go,” he said.
Mr. Glaser said some members of the board felt that some of the ideas were too restrictive on the island.
“Those plans and the concept of all the ideas are not going to go away,” Mr. Glaser said. “There was people that worked very hard on that. They’ll be put into the town’s comprehensive plan, and changes will be made on those specific outlines as soon as the board can agree on all the changes and the details that they would like to see in there.”
Sun Communities floated the idea at the previous board meeting that about 120 sites would be built. People would buy the cabins, but Sun Communities would own the land. These structures would be seasonal homes, and would be limited to around 400 square feet.
There would also be trees along the perimeter of the island so that residents couldn’t see the structures from their homes off the island.
This concept also would not increase RV traffic along Snowshoe Road, which was a concern among residents.
“I do appreciate (Sun Communities) listening and respecting the concerns about the RV traffic, and if they go the route of those cabins, I think that’ll at least help alleviate some of the traffic concerns on Snowshoe Road,” Mr. Owen said.
Mr. Glaser said that the houses would be built off-site and transported in.
Sun Communities stressed during the town’s board meeting that the concept is still very early in development.
“They want to be part of the community, they want to participate with the community, they want to contribute to the community,” Mr. Glaser said.
Mr. Glaser said he believes the $50 million project could be a “win-win” for the town.
“How can a town turn something like that down, especially when you’re adding per se 120 sites out there?” Mr. Glaser said.
Sun Communities could also apply for a PPD, Mr. Glaser said. A planned development, according to Mr. Glaser, is when a group would ask the town board to consider the type of community.
He added that Sun Communities would still have to go through the State Environmental Quality Review Act process, or SEQR, point out the advantages and disadvantages for the community, and convince the board that it would be a good idea.
It also allows the board to limit what the developer can do.
The review during the moratorium did not result in any zoning changes that the board has approved at this point, due to the board not being in favor of some aspects of the report.
Mr. Glaser estimated the board had issues with one line on each of four or five pages out of the 104 pages.
“To have four or five pages of ideas and changes that we all have to agree on, I don’t think is that bad,” Mr. Glaser said. “Most of it has to do with setbacks and density, and what they would like to see for the area.”
He added that if the board adopted the recommendations from the committee as written “you wouldn’t have a tenth of what you have around the lake right now” as it pertains to setback and density issues.
The Department of Environmental Conservation also has wetlands setbacks already on Hovey’s Island for 100 feet on the side that faces Snowshoe Road and 75 feet on the side that faces the harbor.
Mr. Glaser said Sun Communities added additional setbacks so there would be walking trails and a buffer.
“There’s some areas where it can be 165 or 185 feet setbacks in there,” he said.
Sun Communities will be applying under the current zoning laws.
“The board will look at it and see if it’s a fit for the community, if it’s financially viable for the community, if they’re going to hire community people, it’s going to have to be a fit all the way around,” he said.
Mr. Glaser said the board will take everything the committee recommended into consideration.
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