BETHLEHEM — A community group plans to oppose developments surrounding Five Rivers Environmental Education Center.
The Philipin Kill Manor subdivision in Delmar is one of many planned around the local nature preserve that the Friends of Five Rivers citizen group is protesting; The Creekside development in New Scotland is another.
The citizens group was formed to support Five Rivers, and provides a portion of funding and volunteers to the state-run facility. In an emphatic open letter sent by the group Monday morning, Feb. 22, President Maggie Moehringer plead for greater attention to be paid to preserving the nature found at the center.
“Preserving open land and protecting streams around the Five Rivers Environmental Education Center has been a continuing labor of love in the face of intense and inevitable development in the towns of Bethlehem and New Scotland,” stated Moehringer.
“As evidenced by the intended development of Philipin Kill Manor, the preservation work continues.” While Moehringer said the plans for Philipin Kill currently before the Bethlehem Planning Board represent an improvement over previous plans, this development and the Creekside Development, which crosses the Vlomankill and Philipinkill rivers, whose waters flow through five rivers, are still concerning to preservationists.
“We of the Friends of Five Rivers are worried and watchful of the prospect of even more development projects bordering this natural treasure and the effect they will have on its educational mission,” Moehringer said. As Friends of Five Rivers has done with this public message, the group will continue to raise public awareness concerning projects being proposed to surround Five Rivers, and participate in public hearings advocating for mitigated development around the preserve.
Philipin Kill was originally proposed in 2008 and approved for a planned development district in 2010. Over five years later and the project has now appeared again at the Planning Board, as developers still need to submit for final subdivision approval. This process divides the approved development district into lots for each home. The project will place 49 homes on largely undeveloped land off of Fischer Boulevard, a location bordering Five Rivers Environmental Education Center on 56 Game Farm Road in Delmar.
A new cul-de-sac called Carrington Court across from Swan Place will include 38 townhouses and another cul-de-sac off Prestwick Drive will include four single family homes. Seven additional “estate” homes with larger lots and longer driveways that will be constructed off the Prestwick extension and off Orchard Street.
Developer William Cade, of Slingerlands, is a lawyer who once sued the Town of New Scotland and won for an instance where his proposed 169-home development on Hilton Road, the site of the Colonie Country Club and the Hilton barn at LeVie farm, was initially denied planning board approval. The suit cited failure of municipal boards to coordinate throughout the lengthy approval process, and his project was approved.
For the Philipin Kill development, Bethlehem Planning Board is requiring Cade to place a section bordering Five Rivers in preservation, and create a number of trails connecting the development to the nature preserve. The location of these trails was discussed at the Feb. 2 Planning Board meeting.
The land is “conserved as part of rezone process in coordination with balance of land, by allowing a buffer between the development and Five Rivers,” said Bethlehem Planning Director Rob Leslie. Cade will develop on 44 acres and place the remaining 86 acres of the land he owns there in conservation.
Meanwhile, the Creekside Development in New Scotland from developer Bruce Boswell was approved just this past December. Boswell is approved to construct on 16 lots off of Miller Road, also bordering Five Rivers Environmental Education Center.
The project was originally proposed in 2009 and was approved by the New Scotland Planning Board after Boswell agreed to replace some 100-year-old pipes in the area and attach four neighboring sewer and water users to the pipe.
William Cade will continue to appear in future Bethlehem Planning Board meetings. Bethlehem Planning Board will meet next on Tuesday, March 1.