What will happen to the LeVie barn remains unclear, with property owners seeking approvals for a residential development, but local officials are likely to have an extended timeframe to relocate the historic structure.
The New Scotland Planning Board on Tuesday, Feb. 4, returned to Country Club Partners’ application seeking an 18-lot residential subdivision for a 22.4-acre property, which holds the 115-year-old barn town officials are trying to relocate locally. Town Board member Daniel Mackay previously expressed frustration over how long it took to be granted access to the building and worried if there would be enough time to relocate the historic barn. Daniel Hershberg, representing the property owners, was receptive to stalling a portion of development to allow more time for relocation efforts.
The barn is located on lot 18 alongside Route 85A, so development could proceed as planned for the other 17 lots, with the roadway constructed up to the barn. Hershberg said the barn and adjacent parking area could be left alone “until the tail end of site development.” The Colonie Country Club has used the barn as a maintenance storage facility.
“The town has a very strong interest in seeing the barn preserved … not see it demolished for scrap and seeing it put to a higher use,” Planning Board Chairman Charles Voss said. “It is unrealistic to pick the structure up … but to certainly dismantle it and reassemble it somewhere would be an option.”
Fellow board member Kurt Anderson, who visited the barn with Mackay in December, said the structure was in “very good condition,” with some holes in the roof. He added dismantling the structure could be done “fairly quickly,” and it could be reused for many purposes.
“It was an extraordinary structure to be within,” Mackay said. “I would have to say, even though I work in the field of historic preservation and have seen a number of extraordinary sites in New York state, this is one of the most awe-inspiring buildings I have been in.”
Mackay is seeking to have the barn reused within the town for some agricultural purpose to fit with its history. He also believes the structure is eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, which could help secure grants.
There are “several” town residents interested in hosting the barn, according to Mackay. Frank Osterhout, a well-known carpenter, built the 60-foot wide, 120-foot long and 60-foot tall barn in 1898.
Access to the barn in the past had been an issue, according to Mackay, but Hershberg, managing partner of the engineering and land surveyor firm Hershberg & Hershberg, said the property owners welcome town officials to visit the site as needed.
“They will make (the barn) available to anybody that’s qualified to come and take it away … and make access to the site for pre-inspection and whatever has to be done,” Hershberg said.
Mackay said he is in talks with an Ithaca man to visit the barn and assess costs associated with relocating the structure. He is also looking to complete an application to have the barn assessed for National Historic Register eligibility.
“If the costs are so high and the grant doesn’t come through then we’ve made our effort and we may not be in a position to follow through,” Mackay said. “There is a certain window here to try and get something done.”
State grant funding would be known in December, Mackay said, which is foreseen to be the deadline for securing funds. The Planning Board will finalize the timeframe for barn relocation efforts, which would likely be attached as conditions to the subdivision approval.
“We would be willing as conditions of approval to delay our need to develop lot 18 … for another 12 to 18 months if we have to,” Hershberg said. “If, in fact, that would make this project move forward … it would be one lot we can’t convey free and clear title to.”
Hershberg said there are people interested in the property, but delaying the process too long could hinder selling the lots.
“We’re not trying to demolish the barn because we want to demolish the barn. It is just in the way of a developable lot,” Hershberg said. “With a project like this, the difference of leaving out one or two developable lots is the difference between a profitable project in the long run.”
Mackay is expected to submit a report on associated costs and relocation process to the Planning Board before its meeting next month. Final approval is also planned for that meeting.